CO2 Regulation and Speed Limiters

From 2015 to 2016
This study focuses on both the traditional speed limiters as well as the more advanced Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) systems for new light commercial vehicles (LCVs). The current situation is explored (costs, fitting rates, and compliance). Furthermore, the study explores the competition of LCVs with heavy duty vehicles (HDVs), evaluates the co-benefits of implementating speed control devices (traffic safety and air pollutant emissions), and explores legislative options for incentivizing speed control devices.

The analysis builds upon a review of vehicle brochures, literature review, a survey among stakeholders and Member States, interviews, mystery shopping, data analysis and modelling.

Speed control devices in HDVs have been mandatory for many years. We found that they can also be a cost-effective way to reduce green-house gas emissions from LCVs; especially in the case of a speed limiter set at 110 km/h or an ISA system.

Two systems of speed control devices are the most prominently offered for LCVs: separate speed limiters and cruise control with speed limiter. The separate speed limiter is installed by the OEM and generally cannot be adjusted by the driver. For the cruise control with speed limiter, however, the speed limiter is a functionality of the cruise control system which can always be adjusted by the driver. The combination of speed limiter and cruise control is an option in the price range of €150-€347 excluding taxes. Separate speed limiters (i.e. without cruise control) are installed at the factory for a price in the range of €25-€139 excluding taxes. All prices are based on the brochure review for the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The costs for the OEM to install a separate speed limiter are low. ISA is currently not yet on the market for LCVs.

Their use would also positively impact the emissions of other air pollutants and traffic safety. There could be a problem of enforcement; as fraud cannot easily be detected. Moreover, specialized companies claim that they can remove the speed limiter completely for virtually all new vans. However, the price for adjusting the speed limiter is relatively high compared to the price of a separate speed limiter. A range around €260-€435 was indicated in the interviews. The companies had no experience with ISA.

A speed limiter set at 110 km/h has the highest effect on CO2 emissions and air pollutants. If the choice would be between a speed limiter set at 110 km/h or one at 120 km/h, it is clear that the first one is much more cost-efficient. It does however have a much lower impact on safety than the ISA systems, as ISA has an impact on all road types. Given that ISA systems have a much higher positive impact on traffic safety, CO2 emissions, and air pollutants; they do not impose lower speed limits for LCVs, and hence are much more acceptable, the best option seems to incentivize the use of ISA.

Given that ISA cannot be included in the test procedure, this means that the only option to incentivize the use would be to account for the reduced CO2 emissions separately. It is also not clear if ISA would classify as an eco-innovation. However, consideration is currently being given to the post 2020 regime for regulating car and LCV CO2 emissions. As part of this, the eco-innovation system could change or even be replaced with a different approach. Depending on the final regulation, such a system could incentivize the implementation of technologies more easily. This may lower the administrative burden on both the regulatory authority as well as LCV manufacturers. Hence the best option seems to be to incentivize the use of ISA granting credits under a new system.


From 2015 to 2016


European Commission, DG CLIMA


CE Delft, TNO

Our team

Lars Akkermans, Eef Delhaye
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