White paper

Heavy-duty trucks in India: Technology potential and cost-effectiveness of fuel-efficiency technologies in the 2025–2030 time frame

Phase 1 fuel consumption standards for heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) took effect in India on April 1, 2023. While they are an important first step, they do not exploit the full potential of already existing technology to reduce fuel consumption from heavy-duty trucks (HDTs). Additionally, vehicle technologies are expected to continue to advance. This paper makes policymakers and others aware of the potential benefits and costs of fuel consumption reduction technologies and provides evidence of technical and economic feasibility to support a future, more stringent fuel consumption standard for HDVs in India.

The authors analyzed the baseline fuel consumption, technology potential, cost, and cost-effectiveness of technology packages for five different vehicle segments, four rigid trucks and one tractor-trailer. Results suggest that improvements in internal combustion engine (ICE) technology result in fuel consumption reductions of up to 43% for rigid trucks and 49% for tractor-trailers in 2030 over model year 2022 vehicles. Hybrid technology reduced fuel consumption by 4% for the rigid trucks and 2% for the tractor-trailer, largely because they mostly operated on highways and not in stop-and-go traffic. In terms of energy consumption, electrification provided a 77% reduction for both rigid trucks and tractor-trailers.

Based on the technology potential, the authors also modeled carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from HDTs and oil demand under different policy scenarios (see figure). Without further policy intervention, India is projected to more than quadruple HDT emissions by 2070. However, with the combined benefits of the ICE technology packages and increased market penetration for battery-electric trucks, India can avoid up to 85% of annual CO2 emissions and 22% of economy-wide oil demand in 2050; up to 75% of cumulative emissions between 2022 and 2070 can be avoided under the High Ambition policy scenario. Importantly, India also has the potential to use cost-effective technology to reverse the emissions trend of HDTs as early as 2032.

Line chart shows emissions under the Business As Usual scenario in brown, the Moderate Ambition scenario in yellow, and the High Ambition scenario in green.

Figure. Annual CO2 emissions from HDTs under the three scenarios.