Between passenger cars and road freight transport, urban duty vehicles, including waste collection, construction and delivery trucks, is an important category that unlocks enormous potential for lowering emissions from the transport sector. This is a sector that is especially fit for electrification, as these vehicles drive shorter distances than heavy duty freight vehicles. Larger investments in fully electric duty vehicles not only provide a solution to health-threatening air- and noise pollution, but also offer the benefit of lower maintenance costs and fuel savings.
The technology is here
The range of a current battery electric truck varies, depending on the load it carries and the capacity of its batteries, from 80 to 200 km per charge. Urban delivery trucks, which travel short and well-defined routes, are less constrained by battery range and therefore ideal candidates for full electrification.
Following the Nordic EV Summit in Drammen, Norway on 7-8 February last week, the county of Sarpsborg in Norway will be the first to have introduced two fully electrified waste collection trucks, which will be in operation from September. Although these have an initial purchase price three times higher than the conventional trucks, their total cost of ownership is much lower, making this a clear economic benefit. Electric waste collection trucks will also help reduce health damaging air- and noise pollution in cities.
An electric waste collection truck such as these in Sarpsborg, will result in the reduction of approximately 60 tons of CO2 emissions per year. A conventional truck driving in urban areas, uses on average seven litres of diesel per 10 km. With Norwegian hydropower and low electricity costs, the total cost of ownership for these cars will prove far lower than the conventional ones.
Electrifying trucks (and other ‘bigger’ vehicles) will make even more sense economically as well as environmentally (than lighter duty vehicles). Trucks consume on average up to 10 times more fuel per kilometer and travel over 10 times more than passenger cars. Since they require more maintenance, and consume more fuel, the incentive to electrify them will be much greater. This economic driver to go ‘electric’ is even more important for heavy duty vehicles as commercial operators are more strictly focused on performance and cost.
Food delivery trucks charging with solar power
This comes after the introduction late last year of Norway’s first electric food delivery truck, operational from the storage facilities to the nearby towns and Oslo city centre. Despite its initial purchase price being the double of a conventional truck, it finally saves 0.5 million NOK (the equivalent of € 564,100.00) during its lifespan, while cutting down emissions of CO2 and air pollutants. For the electric food delivery trucks, Asko in Norway has developed double-sided solar panels that the trucks utilise for charging when they come back from duty. These are especially adapted to Norwegian light conditions, maximising the intake even of light that is reflected from the clouds and the ground.
The key role of green public procurement
Currently, all purchases of services, works and supplies by public authorities in the EU account for 14% of GDP. This makes green public procurement (GPP) a key tool public authorities can use to build trust in and stimulate demand for low- and zero-emission vehicles. Moreover, GPP is an important driver of economic growth, jobs and competitiveness.
Clean vehicles, meaning vehicles with low- or zero-emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, have increasingly become available on the market. Yet decisions to procure them are constrained by their cost. The EU’s Clean Vehicles Directive (CVD) requires public bodies to consider certain energy and environmental impacts when purchasing road vehicles. The Commission is currently carrying out a public consultation on options for a possible revision of the Directive to better support achieving EU policy objectives on climate change and air pollution and to stimulate the market for clean vehicles.
This offers an ideal opportunity to address some of the weaknesses of the CVD, namely its limited scope in terms of vehicles covered, lacking definition of a ‘clean vehicle’, absence of minimum procurement targets, as well as lenience and ambiguity with regards to its transposition into national laws. Together, these have resulted in the fragmentation of procurement approaches across the EU and the limited uptake of clean vehicles via GPP.
Norway already revised its law governing green public procurement. The Norwegian state owned entity Enova now subsidises companies which choose to invest in electric vehicles.
Road freight transport
The next challenge will be to bring the electric revolution to long-distance heavy duty transport. With increased volume of electric medium- and heavy duty vehicles, lower costs and further technological development will make them more accessible.
One of Europe’s biggest challenges is its ever increasing road freight emissions. The EU is lacking fuel economy standards for its heavy duty vehicles, and while trucks only make up less than 5% of the EU’s road vehicles, they are responsible for 25% of total road transport CO2 emissions. Bellona is encouraging the development of electrification of this sector.
While battery range remains an issue, increased investment in urban duty vehicles and further technological progress will take us there. Just last summer Mercedes-Benz and Daimler Trucks launched a prototype ‘Urban eTruck’, a heavy-duty pure-battery-electric truck for urban deliveries. The truck is said to have a range of 200 kilometers, in other words the range deemed sufficient for the typical daily delivery tour. These are expected to go into production in the early 2020s.