EU Tightens CO2 Emission Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles, Setting New Industry Benchmarks

In a significant regulatory shift, the European Union has formally adopted new CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles. This move, which amends and strengthens existing EU rules, aims to accelerate the reduction of CO2 emissions from road transport, setting new targets for the years 2030, 2035, and 2040. The decision underscores the EU’s commitment to its climate objectives, while also seeking to ensure the heavy-duty vehicle sector remains innovative and competitive on a global scale.

Industry-Wide Implications and Strengthened Targets

Under the updated regulation, the scope has been broadened to encompass almost all new heavy-duty vehicles, including smaller trucks, urban buses, coaches, and trailers. This expansion ensures that a wider segment of the transport sector contributes to emission reduction efforts.

The regulation retains the 2025 target, requiring a 15% reduction in emissions for heavy lorries over 16 tonnes but introduces more stringent targets for subsequent years. By 2030, a 45% reduction is mandated, escalating to 65% by 2035, and achieving a 90% reduction by 2040. These ambitious targets are not just goals but are integral to the EU’s strategy to combat climate change and transition towards sustainable mobility.

Zero-Emission Urban Buses by 2035

A notable aspect of the new rules is the 100% zero-emission target for new urban buses by 2035, marking a significant step towards cleaner urban environments. This target aligns with the broader EU objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and reflects an understanding of the critical role public transport plays in urban centers.

Business and Economic Perspectives

The revised CO2 emission standards are expected to have broad implications for the heavy-duty vehicle industry, prompting manufacturers to accelerate innovation and adopt cleaner technologies. “These new targets signal a clear direction for the future of heavy-duty vehicle manufacturing,” said Markus Becker, an automotive industry analyst. “Companies will need to invest significantly in research and development to meet these standards, potentially leading to a surge in technological advancements in the sector.”

The regulation also presents opportunities for businesses in the green technology and renewable energy sectors, as demand for zero-emission vehicles and related infrastructure is likely to increase.

Next Steps and Future Evaluations

With the regulation set to enter into force shortly, the industry is preparing for a period of adjustment and transition. The EU has planned a review for 2027 to assess the effectiveness of the amended regulation and explore the development of methodologies for assessing full lifecycle CO2 emissions of new heavy-duty vehicles.


The formal adoption of stricter CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles marks a pivotal moment for the European Union’s environmental and transport policy. By setting ambitious reduction targets and expanding the scope of the regulation, the EU is positioning itself as a leader in the global effort to combat climate change. For businesses within the heavy-duty vehicle sector and related industries, the new standards represent both a challenge and an opportunity to lead in the development of sustainable transport solutions. As the EU moves towards its 2030 climate objectives, the impact of these regulations will undoubtedly be watched closely by industry stakeholders and policymakers alike.