Ditching diesel will not happen overnight, say truckmakers

Truckmakers are committed to making unconventional powertrains the norm, but the transition will take time. By Freddie Holmes

No sector within road transportation is more reliant on diesel than heavy-duty commercial vehicles. In the European Union, more than 97% of new medium- and heavy-duty trucks sold run on diesel. A similar figure can be seen across North America.

Special report: When will the trucking industry be ready to ditch diesel?

A gradual transition away from diesel is inevitable. As a fossil fuel, it will eventually run out. When used in an internal combustion engine, it also produces harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). Advanced emissions reduction strategies have improved things, but regulations are in place to ensure that a growing quota of heavy trucks are not just ‘low emissions’ but zero emissions.

The task is to make strategic investments in technologies that are poised to dethrone diesel, but high up-front cost, a lack of clarity on performance and a lengthy return on investment makes it fraught with risk. It leaves truckmakers in a difficult position, but they are tackling the issue head on.

Scania BEV truck tested in cooperation with ASKO
A Scania battery electric truck being tested in cooperation with Swedish retailer ASKO

Meet the contestants

There are two obvious zero emissions alternatives to diesel, both…