Commercial fleet renewal programs as a response to the COVID-19 crisis in the European Union

This briefing provides recommendations to maximize the effectiveness and environmental benefits of potential truck fleet renewal programs adopted at the national or European level.

Fleet renewal programs that incentivize the purchase of new Euro VI trucks without consideration for the environmental impact of the vehicles they replace will fail to advance the environmental agenda of the European Union. The economic, climate, and air quality benefits of fleet renewal programs can be optimized by tailoring the incentives to the vehicle segment.

Experience from the 2008 global financial crisis suggests that the tractor-trailer segment could recover the fastest from the current economic downturn. Although tractor-trailers have the highest market penetration of Euro VI vehicles, they have seen little improvement in fuel efficiency. In addition, they have a limited impact on urban air quality, as they are used for long distance transport. Therefore, fleet renewal incentives aimed at tractor-trailers warrant a CO2 component. Such a measure would also aid truck makers in meeting the upcoming CO2 standards for heavy commercial vehicles.

Construction and urban delivery vehicles (under 16 tonnes), which were affected the most by the last global economic crisis, have the lowest market penetration of Euro VI vehicles and impact urban air quality more directly. Although Euro VI trucks have a much better pollutant emissions performance than older technologies, they still exhibit poor performance during urban operation. Therefore, fleet renewal programs targeting urban trucks should only incentivize the latest implementation of the Euro VI standard, step E, and should include additional incentives for zero-emission technologies.