Freight in Brazil: An assessment and outlook for improving environmental performance

This report is a non-exhaustive, exploratory survey of the truck market in Brazil. We considered the particularities of the road freight transportation system in an effort to evaluate possible obstacles and opportunities for the application of a green freight system similar to the EPA’s SmartWay and other initiatives related to energy efficiency and the reduction of emissions from transport. We examined the operational characteristics of freight transportation, recent truck sales and the profile of the truck fleet, and the perceptions of transporters. Given the relevance of road freight transportation in Brazil and the impacts on the economy due to the increase in the price of diesel, there are clear opportunities to advance the theme of green freight.

Highlights of key findings and lessons are summarized below.

  • Performance of technologies: Neutral entities that study and quantify gains in energy efficiency from different technologies could be important in stimulating adoption of green technologies. HDV labeling under the Rota 2030 program brings certification of parts, components, and vehicles and is to be implemented by 2023. INMETRO, a national certification body, is well positioned to implement this for heavy vehicles, the data from which can serve as a basis for future green freight programs. But there is still no news of efforts in that direction.
  • Emissions in transportation: The identification and dissemination of a methodology to quantify emissions by transported product or by customer (shipper) would help to incorporate actions to reduce GHG emissions in this stage for companies that have already set reduction targets.
  • Pilot programs: The number of participants in GHG inventories and even green freight-like programs has grown in recent years. Although still a small portion of the large universe of transporters that operate in the country, these are important as pilots and can be leveraged to form more comprehensive programs.
  • Eco-driving programs: Among the ways to improve energy efficiency, the ecological management programs stand out. In addition to contributing to the reduction of emissions and fuel consumption, eco-driving programs bring benefits such as the professionalization of the road transport sector and its drivers and greater safety in traffic. The growing interest in these programs makes them relevant to a future green freight agenda.
  • Contribution to fuel efficiency standards policy: The current pressure on transportation costs and the role of fuel in this equation also bring fuel efficiency standards for HDVs to the agenda. Voluntary green freight programs can provide support for the design of these policies, especially with regard to the possibility of making data available.