Sep 28, 2023

Will Fleets Go Green in Europe? It’s Not as Simple as it Seems

Road freight is responsible for over nearly three-quarters of gas emissions within the transportation sector in Europe

At the end of 2020, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) published a unified decision to ensure all new trucks sold by 2040 are fossil-free and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. This is a lofty goal, but as governments and transportation leaders around the world have begun to realize the action needed to address climate change, these are the ambitious targets that can make a difference.

Road freight is responsible for over nearly three-quarters of gas emissions within the transportation sector in Europe, making it a focal point for overall carbon-neutrality targets. Opting for refreshed fleets that run on cleaner energy is one of the best ways to make an impact. However, professionals that work in transportation, logistics, and related fields know just how challenging these changes will be to implement. The intentions for fleets to go green in Europe are there, but it truly be achieved?  

Green Fleet in Europe

Many Challenges Ahead

Road freight volumes in Europe are expected to continually increase year-over-year, totaling a 36% increase between 2019 and 2050. To complicate matters even further, in 2021, electric and hydrogen vehicles only accounted for 0.5% of medium and heavy-duty commercial registrations, and 0.2% of long-haul trucks. Since it takes roughly 10 years to renew entire fleets, the work has to start now to reach the goals outlined by the European Parliament and the ACEA.

A study was conducted in partnership with the European Clean Trucking Alliance to identify gaps in targeted green goals and the current landscape, and leaders in the trucking industry highlighted many challenges with successfully going green:

  • Lack of Available EV Chargers

Fleets are often required to transport products over long distances, but with the lack of EV charging infrastructure throughout Europe, supporting large fleets of electric vehicles is impossible with the current number of chargers in the EU. Governing bodies will need to invest in EV charging infrastructure that goes beyond passenger cars and can support long-haul freight trucks.

  • Supply Struggles

Currently, the EV market has limited options, especially for freight transportation vehicles. With very little competition in the market, prices are high and options are limited, making it difficult for transportation companies to find trucks that fit their parameters. Some members of the ECTA pointed out that securing large orders from manufacturers is next to impossible, adding more obstacles to replacing an entire fleet.

  • Zero-Emission Performance Visibility

Long-haul electric vehicles haven’t been around for long; getting an accurate understanding of expected lifespans and mechanical problems is incredibly difficult within the current landscape. Many fleets are 10-20 years old, but can fully electric fleets last this long? It’s unclear. This also makes the resell market for long-haul electric vehicles shaky and adds another barrier to entry for smaller transportation companies.

  • Investment Capital

Upgrading an entire fleet from diesel or gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles is costly, and in an industry that operates on tight margins, capital can be hard to come by. To enable a major shift along this timeline, the EU will need to provide financial benefits to transportation companies that go green.  

Trending Green

Despite the road ahead being riddled with bumps, the sector is showing promise. Major transportation giant, Amazon, just announced that over the next five years, it will invest €1,000,000,000 into an electric truck and van fleet across Europe. An industry leader backing green initiatives on this scale will drive innovation and make it more possible for others in the space to go green as well. Amazon will invest in EV charging infrastructure and partner with auto manufacturers to supply its fleet.

United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp have made commitments to investing in zero-emission vans and trucks as well. As manufacturers are given more reason to bolster their own infrastructure, manufacturing speed will increase and EVs will become more available for large fleets all over the continent.

The Future Landscape Looks Greener

For the EU to reach its carbon emissions goals, a lot of work has to be done in not a lot of time, and the transportation sector is only one part of the equation. Even if leaders in the space are willing to do what it takes, governing bodies need to support the transition with infrastructure investments across the board. The journey won’t be easy, but all signs point to the fact that fleets in Europe will go green, building a roadmap for the rest of the world to follow.

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