The “Final Drop of Diesel” Cartel


After I joined T&E in 2011 there was a consensus: truckers would have the final drop of diesel. They might be the final sector to decarbonise. If ever. The opposite consensus – in our group – was that rail was the reply to all freight’s issues.

Clearly there was an issue. The final drop of diesel method was incompatible with local weather motion. The “rail to the rescue” story was contradicted by the details. Typically rail merely can’t compete with street freight, which is why it had been in decline for many years.

It was time for us to simply accept that vehicles had been right here to remain.

Our preliminary goals had been restricted. We centered on security and aerodynamics, providing the trade flexibility to enhance on these by permitting them to design rounded cabs. Absolutely the truckmakers would assist effectivity and fewer street deaths?

Boy, was I improper.

At first I didn’t perceive why the truck trade was towards design flexibility. Then in 2016 Iveco, DAF, Volvo/Renault, Daimler and MAN had been fined by the European Fee for operating an enormous cartel. They got report fines for colluding, fixing costs and holding again the introduction of applied sciences that might reduce emissions.

As soon as I understood the truck trade was a cartel, issues made extra sense, though not simpler to simply accept. Again within the early 2010s T&E and security campaigners proposed direct imaginative and prescient requirements for vehicles that might have saved 1000’s of cyclists and pedestrians by now. The truck foyer killed them.

Quick ahead to 2017. Falling battery prices and improved electrical truck efficiency had been about to vary every little thing. We ran the numbers and located that it will quickly be cheaper to run vehicles on batteries than on diesel. Truckmakers stated we had been out-of-touch Tesla fanboys.

Reacting to the launch of the Semi, Daimler Truck boss Martin Daum famously stated: “If Tesla actually delivers on this promise, we’ll clearly purchase two vehicles — one to take aside and one to check as a result of if that occurs, one thing has handed us by….However for now, the identical legal guidelines of physics apply in Germany and in California.” 

In that very same yr, Daimler & co ran a determined marketing campaign to cease the EU from introducing CO2 limits for vehicles. They opposed penalties for breaching the air pollution limits and wished solely an ‘indicative’ goal for 2030. There was no want, they stated. The market was working simply high-quality – I’m not making this up! Due to the cartel scandal that yr, few lawmakers believed them and the EU launched its first ever truck CO2 regulation.

A yr later the EU Fee introduced the European Inexperienced Deal. Internet zero by 2050 clearly made the “final drop of diesel” narrative arduous to keep up. So truckmakers did the unimaginable, that they had a go at being a part of the answer, not the issue. In 2020 they pledged to promote solely local weather impartial autos by 2040 and corporations – sure, together with Daimler – made massive bulletins promising to impress their lineups.

This gave the impression of actual change.

However previous habits die arduous. When the Fee pushed for mounted targets for 2040, those self same truckmakers ran round Brussels saying that was completely unattainable. How may they presumably cost or refuel their zero emission vehicles in Lapland? How may they ever cross the Alps with out Diesel?

They acquired their means. Kind of.

The initially proposed 100% CO2 discount goal for truckmakers was watered right down to -90% and loads of truck varieties had been excluded.

Now that they’ve killed the 100% goal, truckmakers have set their sights on watering down the -45% by 2030 CO2 goal. They’re additionally operating a scandalous marketing campaign attempting to eradicate the brand new Euro VII emission requirements that would scale back poisonous diesel fumes and slash untimely deaths from air air pollution.

Trying again to these days within the early 2010s, I’m struck by how improper truckmakers have been on nearly every little thing I’ve ever labored on. Europe’s lawmakers would do nicely to do not forget that after they get a go to from the representatives of the “final drop of diesel” cartel.

Initially revealed on T&E. By William Todts, Govt Director.


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