Market analysis and fuel efficiency technology potential of heavy-duty vehicles in China

Published: 2017.07.20

Oscar Delgado and Hanyan "Ann" Li

This study examines the HDV market in China and investigates the potential for currently sold vehicles to reduce fuel consumption through the adoption of known efficiency technologies. For this study, we obtained and analyzed 8 years of HDV registration data in China. We extracted information on registered models, including model year, vehicle manufacturer, engine manufacturer, and various vehicle and engine technical specifications. Based on the results of this analysis and additional data and using vehicle simulation software, we specified and modeled two representative, top-selling 2015 baseline vehicles: a tractor-trailer and a rigid delivery truck. Technology packages were then established to represent applicable technologies that are either currently commercialized or forecast to become available during 2020–2030. The potential for reductions in baseline vehicle fuel consumption from phasing in these technology packages was then modeled to determine the technology potential for new HDVs in China.

Figure ES1


Figure ES-1 shows the potential for lowering tractor-trailer fuel use substantially more than mandated by China’s currently proposed Stage 3 fuel consumption standards. The Stage 3 standards would reduce new tractor-trailer fuel consumption by about 3% a year until 2020. After 2020, China could further reduce fuel consumption by 21% through the application of technologies used in the U.S. Phase 2 HDV GHG regulation, such as engine efficiency improvements, low rolling resistance tires, and tractor-trailer aerodynamics. China could lower HDV fuel use by a total of almost 45% from the 2020 level by also applying in-development technologies that are expected to be commercially available in the 2025–2030 timeframe, such as waste heat recovery, integrated tractor-trailer aerodynamic designs, and hybridized powertrains.

The findings from this study lead to several recommendations for future policies to reduce China’s HDV fuel consumption:

  1. If China’s currently proposed standards are implemented effectively, there will be significant reductions over the next few years. However, China needs to make additional advances for its HDV market to match that of the U.S. on technology and efficiency. There is potential to significantly further lower fuel consumption by new vehicles using known technologies. More stringent standards based on these technologies with longer lead times could ensure that manufacturers apply advanced technologies effectively.
  2. The freight-hauling fleet in China is not using the most efficient vehicle logistics as compared with the U.S. and the EU. Policymakers should consider policies or incentives to encourage the use of tractor-trailers and the use of box-style trailers and their drop-and-hook capabilities to improve efficiency. This could reduce empty miles driven, incidence of overloading, and the number of vehicles on the road, allowing for a more modern national logistics system.
  3. China’s current HDV fuel consumption standards do not fully cover the HDV market, leaving 15% of all new HDVs unregulated. The trailers, which by themselves can have a large impact on fuel consumption, are also unregulated unlike in the U.S. China could obtain further reductions in HDV fuel consumption by extending its regulatory framework to include these segments. These represent some of the opportunities for China to significantly improve the efficiency of its on-road freight system over the next 15–20 years.