The new reduction targets are firm. Especially if we translate this into numbers of vehicles.

Speaking through European Commissioner Frans Timmermans, the European Commission presented stricter plans aimed at gradually setting stricter requirements for the CO₂ emissions of all new heavy vehicles from 2030 onwards. This has led to critical reactions. The necessary transition to zero-emission road freight transport is unfeasible without clear objectives and tight control from the government and the energy sector on sufficient charging infrastructure.

According to Bart Banning, Sector Banker Transport & Logistics, all stakeholders within the transport sector must actively contribute to achieving the climate goals. For example, by 2050 almost all vehicles on our roads must be emission-free. The climate law demands it, our cities demand it and truck manufacturers are preparing for it. In his tightened plans, Timmermans states that from 2040 the emissions of new trucks must be reduced by 90 percent compared to 2019. Reduction targets of 2030 and 2035 percent apply for 45 and 65 respectively. Feasible or utopian?

The new reduction targets are firm. Especially if we translate this into numbers of vehicles. Banning notes that the European manufacturer's umbrella organization Acea has calculated that the latest Timmermans scenario means that 2030 zero-emission trucks must have been sold in Europe by 400.000. And that from 2030, 100.000 new zero-emission trucks must be registered annually. For the Netherlands, this also requires significant steps, based on the current number of registrations of 143.000. Based on previous European criteria, the ElaadNL knowledge center estimated the total number of electric trucks required in 2022 at 2030 in 24.000. To put things in perspective: at the beginning of 2022, the Netherlands had just under 300 electric trucks.

European Commissioner Frans Timmermans

The transition to zero-emission freight transport means a significant investment for the sector. The average purchase cost of an electric truck compared to a diesel truck is a factor of two to three higher. A report published last week by the National Agenda for Charging Infrastructure shows that the purchase and operational costs of suitable charging infrastructure, often on private property, require a substantial additional investment. The costs for purchasing the charging infrastructure, civil works and installation are highest for heavy trucks with an average of 33.500 euros per vehicle. The operational costs are mainly in maintenance and repair of the charging infrastructure, and for fast chargers in insurance costs. It is clear that these costs cannot be borne by the transport companies and are therefore passed on to clients.

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without electricity, no transition

In itself, the replacement of the equipment and the higher costs, according to Bart Banning, are not the problem. The manufacturers have the knowledge and production capacity to supply sufficient electric trucks and clients who want to contribute to a cleaner world together with their carriers will be willing to bear the higher costs. The real question is whether we are able to install sufficient charging infrastructure at the locations of transport companies in a timely manner. This really is a matter that should not be tackled by the carriers and shippers, but by the energy sector and government. The energy sector must provide knowledge and charging capacity, the government is needed to facilitate the infrastructure with faster permit procedures. And, as the RAI Association states in their 'charging station alarm', the government must also concretise purchase subsidies and provide support to strengthen the energy network and expand the charging and refueling infrastructure.

The transition to zero-emission transport is a complex issue that not only requires expertise, cooperation and responsibility from all participants, but also direction in this phase. There are sufficient reports available that clearly describe the challenges regarding availability, costs and required charging capacity. The question is how many more reports we need to take constructive action. After all, the first measurement moment in 2030 is just around the corner. The leading role does not lie with the manufacturers of zero-emission vehicles or their users. They will. That gauntlet for clear direction must now be taken up by a decisive government in collaboration with a decisive energy sector. Only they can make the difference and give speed. No transition without electricity.

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Bart Banning

Bart Banning is a sector banker Transport and logistics. In his role, he has a lot of contact with entrepreneurs and supports sector colleagues within the bank. To this end, he writes publications with a thematic approach, such as cybersecurity. And he maintains his network with companies and industry organizations such as TLN, BLN, Dinalog, NDL and Connekt. He also writes columns and expert articles for Nieuwsblad Transport en Logistiek.

Important challenges for the sector lie in the field of strategy formation, tightness in the labor market, the limitation of CO2 emissions and the impact thereof on business operations. It requires a more efficient use of available capacity. Technology and digitization are becoming key factors in driving the sector forward.

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