By on December 14, 2020

An alliance of European truck manufacturers have pledged to stop selling vehicles that produce any emissions by 2040 — pushing up its previous target date by a full decade.

The group, which includes Daimler, Scania, Man, Volvo, Daf, Iveco, and Ford, have all signed a pledge to focus on developing hydrogen and battery technologies so that petroleum-derived propulsion can be phased out of the trucking industry.

Up until recently, the world’s relationship with the internal combustion engine has been reminiscent of the scene in every movie where the villain is too busy explaining the plan to effectively execute one. The gasoline motor is strapped to the table while a coalition of corporate executives, environmental activists, and politicians explain their over-complicated plan for eliminating it. In their grandstanding, they failed to realize that double-o-combustion has slipped away and are forced to revise the plan and re-synchronize their watches.

It’s one reason you see such extreme environmental measures receive hard targets that are never met and immediately recycled once the industry is sure everyone’s forgotten. Part of this is our fault, too. We’ve gotten wise to the empty promises the automotive sector seems contractually obligated to make and simply shrug our shoulders whenever we hear corporate commitments.

But now the industry actually sees an opportunity to profit off EVs by digitizing the automobile and leveraging the increased amount of control that brings. Once cars are electric, automakers can more easily control the data they produce, adopt new subscription models for features, and even build their own proprietary charging networks. That, in addition to massive financial investments into firms pushing new technologies, have made electrification look far more appetizing to the industry — especially since the alternative is often a sizable fine for not complying with ever-expanding emission regulations.

Europe’s truck-producing manufacturers are acting under the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) and are reportedly working with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research to decide which programs should be funded. The industry will spend about €50-100 billion on new technologies, Scania chief executive Henrik Henriksson told the Financial Times ahead of the pledge announcement.

From FT:

The pledge signed by the chief executives of the [semi] truck and van businesses also calls for widespread investment in energy grids and a higher tax on carbon across Europe to help drive the change.

“If we can make this happen, we need to work all together,” said Mr Henriksson, who chairs ACEA’s commercial vehicle board.

The pledge comes as European regulators and governments seek to phase out emissions from road transport.

The EU plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 per cent by the end of the decade.

The UK has said it will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars including hybrids by 2035, and will consult on trying to end the use of diesel [trucks].

“[Freight deliveries are] the backbone of any society in the world today, but we have to recognise that they are very dependent on the internal combustion engines to transport all the goods of every industry,” said Professor Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute.

[Image: Volvo Trucks]

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28 Comments on “European Truck Manufacturers Ending ICE Production in 2040...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    I know TTAC commenting has almost universally been extremely bearish on the future of hydrogen but it seems like large commercial vehicle manufactures are leaning more towards fuel cell development versus BEVs. My big question is, how possible is it to replace or supplement the existing ICE infrastructure with hydrogen filling stations?

    I think the biggest appeal of hydrogen vehicles is that it seems to require the smallest amount of lifestyle changes from people. You show up at a station, hook up a nozzle, and in about 5 minutes you are on your way with 300+ miles of range. There’s no having an electrician rewire your garage, there’s no charging port adapters you need to carry around, there’s no using an app to find a charging station at a farmer’s market, there’s no plugging in and “checking emails or having a meal” for 30-60 minutes while your vehicle charges.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    All this sounds promising but if the goal is to reduce carbon emissions, how those trucks are charged becomes a big deal. If you are burning coal to generate that electricity that goal is lost. Also where to put the batteries necessary for the needs of trucking? Trailers are swapped so I am assuming in the tractor…but where? I think the vast majority of the world saw how much better our atmosphere was when the pandemic cut fuel consumption so the goal is laudable and worthy of the investment but if the “well to wheel” calculations aren’t showing a net reduction what has been accomplished?

    …Once cars are electric, automakers can more easily control the data they produce, adopt new subscription models for features, and even build their own proprietary charging networks…

    Why would data be more easily controlled for electric cars as opposed to any other fuel source? Charging networks sure – they could grab location and distance since last charge for example, but the same can be done with an Onstar type of system…neither of which I want anything to do with…

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Due to economies of scale, even coal power is more efficient than burning fuel in individual vehicles. That’s why we have regional power plants instead of home generators.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “even coal power is more efficient than burning fuel in individual vehicles”

        Not exactly.
        “The only exceptions are places like Poland, where electricity generation is still mostly based on coal.”
        https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/electric-cars-better-
        for-climate-in-95-of-the-world

        However, I think it is extremely unlikely that coal plants will be an expanding energy resource, especially if battery technology has advanced to the point that BEVs can realistically be 100% of the new vehicle fleet. It is more the “war” on natural gas that I question.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Yes, coal seems to be getting legislated out of use.

          I’d like to see even more efforts to make it clean, because it is just so cheap and plentiful, and very safe to handle until it is pulverized.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Battery technology is always in the intermediate future, like these promises to end the ICE. The real bottleneck is the exotic/rare/expensive materials needed to scale up battery production.

  • avatar
    mcs

    ” You show up at a station, hook up a nozzle, and in about 5 minutes you are on your way with 300+ miles of range”

    It does disrupt your lifestyle because you have to go to the station rather than having a vehicle that can be fueled at home. Fueling at home is a huge advantage plus the range of EVs is about to get beyond the 400 mile range. Toyota and QuantumStates say their solid-state batteries can charge in ten minutes, so what’s the advantage?

    “there’s no using an app to find a charging station at a farmer’s market,”

    Because there is no way a farmer’s market could afford or deal with a hydrogen station. They could afford a NEMA 14-50 outlet ($35) or a level 2 charger that could make them some extra money.

    “You show up at a station, hook up a nozzle, and in about 5 minutes you are on your way with 300+ miles of range.”

    Not if you’re the car that gets there just as the previous car exhausts the pressure and you have to wait an hour for re-pressurization. I’ve heard it’s every one to three cars depending on the station.

    The other issue is that you’re depending on the entities that can’t maintain a tire pump to maintain a 10,000 psi flammable gas dispenser. Everytime you fuel, you will be taking your life into your hands and hoping the cheap chinese parts the station used last maintenance are as good as the originals and were installed correctly. Remember, 10,000 psi. I guess the good part is that you’d probably die from the shrapnel before being fried to a crisp.

    https://www.fleeteurope.com/en/new-energies/norway/article/norway-hydrogen-explosion-mystery-solved?a=BUY03&t%5B0%5D=Hydrogen&t%5B1%5D=Fuel%20Cell&t%5B2%5D=Safety&curl=1

    https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/hydrogen-fuel-cell-car-california-explosion/

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed on all your points, but this 10-minute claim by Toyota means a megawatt charger with a 1000-Amp cable. That’s a significant jump over anything available today, and a very serious design, safety, and deployment hurdle.

      Cables which can handle that kind of current are not small, even if they are cooled, and they present meaningful challenges just to handle something that size in a consumer’s hands.

      I’d like to see an explanation of how Toyota expects this to be practical.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Maybe the owners of my luxury gated complex will install it for us? In places where renters in apartments are helf the households or more, “at home” recharging is not an option.

        Of course the rich will have home chargers for their luxury electric cars, but most people will be unable to afford an electric car at all, and have to use mass transit.

        Funny thing about financing all the infrastructure: it’ll be paid for by “carbon taxes.” If everyone is using electric cars, who’s paying the taxes?

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        They state these are solid state batteries. No messy chemicals. Must be one helluva of a capacitor :)

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “It does disrupt your lifestyle because you have to go to the station rather than having a vehicle that can be fueled at home. Fueling at home is a huge advantage plus the range of EVs is about to get beyond the 400 mile range. Toyota and QuantumStates say their solid-state batteries can charge in ten minutes, so what’s the advantage?”

      It is already my lifestyle to go to a 3rd party location to refuel so no adjustment required. Assuming my driving habits return to the 2019 baseline at some point it’s probably still going to be a frequent occurrence for me even with a BEV. Also, “about to” and “say” are doing some very heavy lifting in that paragraph, lets’ see these things actually exist for consumers first. And even then, there’s still not enough plugs to go around (although there is *definitely* not enough hydrogen stations to go around right now either).
      ___________

      “Everytime you fuel, you will be taking your life into your hands”
      “I guess the good part is that you’d probably die from the shrapnel before being fried to a crisp.”

      I get that you love your EV and that from past comments you’ve made that your employment involves battery technology but I generally expect more from you than fear-mongering. Keep this in mind the next time you protest a story about BEVs catching fire.

      I’m not saying hydrogen is the answer to anything but I don’t think manufacturers would *still* be pushing for it if there was only downsides compared to BEVs. Meanwhile the BEV backers seem to have a very visceral reaction to mentions of hydrogen.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    For commercial use the hydrogen or fuel cells would make more sense than for individuals. Large trucking companies, large fleets, and companies like Amazon could set up their own refueling and the larger truck stops could as well.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      So you are thinking there will be two separate major transportation infrastructures? In that case would a “plug-in hydrogen EV” be a thing that could exist?

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        I think that fuel cells or hydrogen would work better for commercial trucks than for individuals. I don’t think costwise that an EV tractor trailer makes as much sense for commercial fleets especially for long hauls. As for which choice will eventually be the winner that is something that I cannot predict if it will be fuel cells or hydrogen but either make a lot more sense for long term operating costs than a pure EV especially for long distance hauling. For an individual owner a pure EV might be the better choice.

        Maybe a plug in hydrogen would be a good compromise but who knows for sure what the eventual choices will be.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Eventually there will be Mom and Pop charging stations in every neighborhood. Parking lots will have them, and you’ll be able to fill up with electrons while you wash your clothes in the laundromat, buy your groceries or load up on Chinese junk at Walmart.
      Apartment complexes will put them in and sell the electricity to their tenants at a hefty mark-up.
      There might be drive-over charge plates built into the parking places, and your car will automatically link up with the pay system.
      The change will come, and today’s cranky Luddites will wonder at how we used to survive having to deal with filling up at a smelly Shell station (“remember those?”).

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The ambiguous word “eventually” is doing some extremely heavy lifting within this comment.
        From your last paragraph though you seem to think that the EV infrastructure needed to accommodate all apartment dwellers will be completed while most of us are still above ground.

  • avatar

    I do not know how realistic is to get rid of ICE in trucking but we are talking about 2040. A lot of things may happen by then. E.g. European civilization may collapse, Europe may be invaded by infidels, dark energy may be discovered in CERN and be put on commercial use. Regarding current technologies – BEV is not well suited for commercial trucking because of heavy weight which does not change even when battery is empty, time it takes to charge such a huge battery, cost of battery and etc. Fuel cells seems to be a more effective solution because of lighter weight which goes down as hydrogen is consumed. The only problem is cost of production of hydrogen and difficulty of storing and transportation. As of today I do not see how ICE can be replaced with electric motor in long distance trucking without forcing lot of people into poverty.

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      “As of today I do not see how ICE can be replaced with electric motor in long distance trucking without forcing lot of people into poverty.”

      Then its should fit in fine with the plans of the powers that be. You almost make it sound as if that would be a disadvantage.

      It seems to me that there is a lot of underestimation of what’s involved in going from the current very limited use of EV’s (or hydrogen) and actually getting to where that is the what everybody uses. Scaling up to that degree is complex and at times full of surprises (which in the technical world rarely seem to be good surprises).

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    Hydrogen, chemical batteries and solid state batteries share one characteristic. They are means of storing energy. If you have a wholesale switch, where will the extra energy required originate?

  • avatar
    markf

    All these “pacts” and predictions are always made just far enough in the future (10-20 years) that people will completely forgot about them when they are not met or don’t come true.

    It makes the companies feel virtuous and satisfies the gov regulators and enviro lobbyist but in 2040 we all know trucks will still be burning diesel

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