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Electric challenge of the logistics industry

Many countries have declared war on vans and trucks with combustion engines. Even newer combustion engines will soon no longer be allowed to enter some zones. The industry must act quickly.

Just recently, the Netherlands announced that they will no longer allow vans or trucks with combustion engines to enter 14 cities from 2025. While the trend away from older diesel vehicles such as Euro 3 and 4 has existed for some time in many countries, these rapid changes mean enormous challenges for the industry. In less than 4 years, many companies serving the Dutch market will have to change completely. As the Maasvlakte environmental zone is part of the port of Rotterdam, it could also be affected. Some Dutch cities have announced a tightening for trucks even before this date. In Utrecht and Eindhoven, only diesel trucks and buses with Euro standard 6 will be allowed from January 2022. Likewise, an environmental zone will be introduced in Haarlem on that date, banning diesel trucks, i.e. N2 and N3 vehicles with Euro standards 0 to 5.

And it is not only the Netherlands that is getting serious with its measures against heavy diesel vehicles, which contribute strongly to nitrogen oxide pollution in the cities.

France has also decided in a new climate package that vehicles with a category 3 sticker will no longer be allowed to enter over 40 conurbations from 2025. All cities with more than 150,000 inhabitants are affected. The ban on this sticker excludes diesel trucks with Euro standard 5 and vans with Euro standard 4. In some environmental zones, such as the Arve Valley, it has even already been announced that sticker 2 will also be banned from 2025. Even the newest diesel trucks with Euro standard 6, however, do not get a better sticker. A ban thus points to the complete exclusion of diesel vehicles. Possibly, Euro standard 7 could be introduced from 2025. Vehicles with this Euro standard could then possibly get a better sticker.  Even then, however, truck fleets would have to switch completely to the new Euro standard and companies would no longer be allowed to import vehicles purchased today. Strasbourg has also already announced the ban on sticker 2, but has not yet set a deadline.

As also reported in today's newsletter, strict rules will also apply in London from this week onwards, which will only allow lorries with Euro standard 6 to enter the city. Similar rules will apply in Bath from 15 March and in Birmingham as soon as the low emission zone comes into force. A date for this has not yet been announced.

With the stricter rules, especially for heavy vehicles, it seems as if the cities are shifting the problem of poor air quality onto the logistics sector. The failed transition to green mobility in many cities in recent years, for example through the expansion of public transport, safe cycle paths and car-sharing options, means that many people in urban areas continue to travel by car. E-cars are also not yet as accepted as desired in many countries. Not least because the charging network is lacking. It is difficult for many politicians to deny citizens entry, because environmental zones and driving bans are unpopular. The logistics industry, which does not necessarily belong to the direct electorate, can be given a leg up.

From a technical point of view, there are still many hurdles for transport companies to switch to electric models. For example, the range problem of a battery-powered truck is still unresolved. Hydrogen drives could be the solution, but here, too, the technology is not yet fully developed. Truck manufacturers Scania, MAN and others have already set themselves the goal of bringing only zero-emission trucks onto the market by 2040 in order to meet the European Union's climate target. To do so, however, they need their support, among other things to ensure a seamless charging and refuelling infrastructure in Europe.

The decision to phase out older trucks in order to improve air quality is certainly the right one. But the changeover should probably either have been started earlier, or must now be carried out at a reasonable pace that reflects the state of the art and that the industry can handle.

You can also use our Green Zones app for trucks and vans. The truck subscription and the option to create multiple vehicles allow you to safely navigate your fleet in Europe's environmental zones.