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UK publishes roadmap for reducing CO2 emissions from commercial and off-highway vehicles

The roadmap features parallel technology streams depending on duty cycle. Click to enlarge.

The UK Automotive Council has published a long-term strategy aimed at helping manufacturers of commercial vehicles and construction equipment move to low-carbon solutions. These technologies include hybridization, more efficient powertrains and alternative fuels; the “Low carbon Commercial Vehicle & Off-highway roadmap” features parallel technology streams depending on duty cycle.

The roadmap, the work of the joint industry/government Automotive Council, is the first to be published in Europe at this level of detail and outlines the drivers and timescales of technology development across the sector from delivery vans to bulldozers.

The roadmap is intended to be a tool in determining research priorities as well as helping vehicle manufacturers and the supply chain draft long-term business plans.

An initial assessment of categories and duty cycles provided four main commercial/off-highway vehicle classifications:

  • Light-duty vehicles up to and including 3.5t GVW and up to ~120 kW with a typical engine displacement of 1.5-3 liters;
  • Medium-duty vehicles from 3.5-26t GVW, both rigid and drawbar, from 90-200 kW, with a typical engine displacement of 4-7 liters;
  • Bus/coach-heavy duty engine but lighter, from ~ 180+ kW with a typical displacement of 4-12 liters; and
  • heavy-duty vehicles, from ~26-44t GVW, rigid & drawbar, from ~ 180+kW and with a typical displacement of 7-16 liters.

The roadmap assumes that CO2 regulations will be implemented within the next decade, and will trade-off with emissions regulation. Overall, the objective and outcome will be that tailpipe emissions have zero impact on air quality emissions by 2030-2050.

The roadmap outlines core technologies that will apply to all duty cycles, as well as duty-cycle specific technologies. Key points in the roadmap include:

  • While there are many common technologies shared between on and off-highway vehicles with similar technical and commercial barriers, the relevance to specific products will be based on many other factors such as specific duty cycle and power requirements; refueling and range requirements; and total cost of ownership.

  • Reducing CO2 emissions for long haul vehicles and high power products in the foreseeable future will be dependent on improvements in conventional powertrains and transmissions. Accordingly, a key requirement will be affordable and sustainable low carbon fuels.

  • The shift to alternative powertrains and transmissions such as electrification will be limited to light-duty products and short range/endurance products but will benefit from technologies developed for the passenger car market.

  • Centrally refuelled vehicles and products may offer opportunities for the introduction of low carbon fuels or electrification where this can be cost effective.

  • There are clear opportunities and benefits available form an integrated approach and the introduction of intelligent logistics for both on-highway and off-highway vehicles.

Work on lowering carbon emissions from cars is well underway. Now we need to look at other parts of the sector and how they can help meet our long term obligations on CO2 and air quality targets. This roadmap will help companies make the right investment choices as well as promote UK innovation and technology.

—Business Secretary and Co-Chair of the Automotive Council Vince Cable

Heavy Goods Vehicles contribute around 20% of overall UK transport greenhouse gas emissions. Research conducted by the Department for Transport (DfT) has shown that the most significant emissions savings from road freight will come from use of lower emission technologies such as hybrid and electric technologies and alternative fuels (biomethane and compressed natural gas).


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