The European Commission has a new set of fuel use rules which are sure to stimulate the development more fuel efficient trucks, likely to become available in Australia, over time. This follows similar moves in the US mandating improved carbon emissions performance and, consequently, better fuel economy.
A computer simulation tool has been developed in Europe, VECTO, to assess carbon emissions from new vehicles. Legislation will be introduced soon to mandate any new truck entering the European market has to be certified, reported and monitored, in carbon emissions terms.
Later, the plan is to introduce rules setting a carbon emission limit for trucks. The European Union already has a mandatory limit on carbon emissions for cars and this is to be extended to the trucking industry for newly registered vehicles.
The European Commission may choose to use fuel taxation legislation and incentives to encourage the use of alternative fuels. Subsidising alternative fuel infrastructure along with tax breaks could push more operators into the natural gas, biodiesel camp.
The Commission is looking for a 30 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from the trucking industry in Europe. This would seem to be a tall order for road transport to achieve but the environmental benefits will also be matched by productivity gains as fuel consumption lowers.
This initiative has been flagged for some time in Europe and the research arms of the major truck manufacturers are beavering away to bring down fuel use. With the introduction of the new rules we can expect to see a number of new designs on the roads of Europe.
Any kind of mandatory limitation on fuel consumption in Australia is way over the horizon, in fact, repealing the carbon tax is a step in the opposite direction. However, the availability of fuel saving technologies coming on stream from both European and North American truck builders will mean real fuel saving technology should start to appear here.