Heavy-duty vehicles (HDV) are among Europe’s most significant sources of CO2 emissions, primarily due to the sector’s reliance on diesel vehicles. While numerous alternative technologies and fuel options exist to mitigate these emissions, their market development will mainly depend on their economic performance.
A new ICCT study compares the total cost of ownership (TCO) for various European truck classes and technologies to diesel. The TCO encompasses the costs of truck acquisition, European-average fuel prices, maintenance, and European-average road tolls, taxes, and levies.
The analysis covers the most common truck types in the region, ranging from long-haul to urban delivery vehicles. It investigates seven truck decarbonization pathways for combustion or electric powertrain technologies with different fuel options.
Key findings from the ICCT study indicate that:
Battery electric trucks are projected to be the least-cost decarbonization pathway for most truck classes before 2030. Medium- and light-duty urban battery electric trucks are already at TCO parity with their diesel counterparts. This is due to their lower operational expenses than diesel, which counterweighs their higher upfront cost. TCO parity with diesel is expected to be achieved between 2025 and 2026 due to the more expensive upfront costs driven by the large batteries needed to meet high daily driving ranges for heavy-duty long-haul trucks.
Fuel-cell trucks powered by green hydrogen are expected to become cost-competitive with diesel trucks by 2035. Given the expected reduction in the price of green hydrogen fuel in the 2030–2040 timeframe, fuel-cell trucks will reach TCO parity with diesel trucks by 2030 for medium- and light-duty urban trucks and by 2035 for trucks operating in the long haul. In the long term, fuel-cell trucks will record a 10% to 20% higher TCO than battery electric trucks.
Conventional trucks powered by alternative low-GHG fuels such as HVO, e-diesel, and bio-CNG will struggle to match the economic performance of diesel trucks. They will record a 15% to 45% higher TCO than their zero-emission counterparts by 2030. A combination of high fuel costs and low vehicle energy efficiency results in a much higher TCO. Trucks running on e-diesel or bio-CNG are expected to record the highest TCO among all considered decarbonization pathways and across all truck classes. Trucks running on 100% HVO will record a better TCO than those powered by e-diesel and bio-CNG, but they would still be 20% to 30% more expensive than battery electric trucks.