Government zero-emission targets drive electric truck market

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The market for medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks is forecast to reach $203 billion by 2041, as more governments across the globe introduce zero-emissions policies.

This is according to a new report by IDTechEx, titled : "Electric Truck Markets 2021-2041", which provides a COVID-19-adjusted, 20-year outlook for both the medium-duty truck (MDT) and heavy-duty truck (HDT) markets, with separate forecast lines for battery-electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and fuel cell electric vehicle at the global scale.

As the global trucking industry faces pressure from governments to move to zero-emission drivetrains within the next two decades, fleet owners are also introducing complementary zero-emissions policies to shift a portion of their vehicles to zero-emission vehicles.

The majority of manufacturers (including Tesla, Daimler, VW and Volvo) are investing heavily in all-electric trucks, while smaller minority players (Toyota, Hyundai and Nikola) have chosen to focus their efforts on fuel cell EVs as the powertrain of the future, according to the report.

“In June 2020, the California Air Resources Board adopted new standards which mandate that 75% of new Class 4-8 ridged trucks and 55% of new tractor truck sales must be zero-emission by 2035. This legislation will be a significant driver not only for the Californian electric M&HDT market, but will act as a catalyst for the US, whilst setting a benchmark for the rest of the world,” says the study.

Despite M&HDTs representing only 9% of the global vehicle stock, large diesel truck engines combined with high average annual mileage means the truck sector contributes 39% of the transport sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, which equates to about 5% of all global fossil fuel derived from carbon dioxide emissions, according to the study.

“It is this disproportionate contribution to emissions which makes trucks a target for governments. If the global community is going to meet its targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit the impact of climate change, then it is clear that a rapid decarbonisation of the truck sector must be a priority,” says IDTechEx.

This means the days of the fossil-fuel-powered combustion engine are numbered. Governments around the world, recognising the potentially catastrophic repercussions of unfettered climate change and witnessing the detrimental impact on human health from vehicle exhaust pollutant emissions in urban environments, are taking decisive action that will, in the coming decades, drive vehicle manufacturers to zero on-road exhaust emission powertrain solutions, the report points out.

Norway, the world’s biggest EV market, has long been hailed as a leader in the race to adopt electric cars, with battery electric vehicles at 30% of market share and plug-in hybrids at 19%. This is largely attributed to the country’s many incentives and tax benefits for EV owners.

The UK government has stipulated that 60% of all cars and vans need to be EVs by 2032 and completely carbon-free by 2035.

A few years ago, the Chinese government introduced policies which include a target of five million EVs on China’s roads by 2020, as part of its climate change policies. The Chinese government introduced several incentives to encourage growth of the EV market, including EV quotas for vehicle manufacturers and importers, manufacturing subsidies, tax exemptions, government procurement, and support for the construction of EV charging stations.

Other countries that have introduced EV policies and are well on their way to implementing them include the Netherlands, France, Spain, Denmark and Germany.

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