Smart Freight Center: Low emission fuels and vehicles for road (2020)

More governments and companies are setting climate targets. The end goal is zero-emission transport for all road transport, and in this transition phase road freight transportation with low emission fuels or electric vehicles (LEFV) is an important part of an effective strategy in the transition to net zero emissions. However, it is often unclear what ‘low’ or ‘zero’ emissions really means.

The ‘Low Emission Fuels and Vehicles for Road Freight’ report serves as an introductory guide for different stakeholders who all have a role to play in this transition: freight transport operators (‘carriers’), freight transport buyers (‘shippers’), energy and infrastructure providers, vehicle and engine manufacturers (‘OEMs’) and policy makers.

The aim is to create a common starting point for these stakeholders in order to make emission calculations more consistent and reliable, and to inform better and aligned decision-making regarding uptake of low emission fuels (natural gas, biofuels) and electric vehicles (electricity and hydrogen) for the road freight sector.

Key messages are:

  • Companies need to balance what they can do in the short term (e.g.biofuels and urban electric freight vehicles) with preparing for a full switch to electric/hydrogen for the entire trucking fleet.
  • The true climate impact from fuels and vehicles can only be determined by calculating emissions from the full fuel/energy life cycle, or ‘well-to-wheel’ rather than fuel combustion only or ‘tank-to-wheel’.
  • The total emissions of operation (TEO) should be considered alongside the total cost of operation (TCO) of electric freight vehicles so that companies can be assured that their investment makes economic and environmental sense.