The trucks and the environment


The trucks and the environment

Trucks are contributing towards the sustainable transport of goods.
Through an infographic, discover the continuous progress made by the truck industry to reduce the environmental impact of vehicles.

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Essential to modern economies and development, trucks account for 75% of the goods transported overland in Europe every year, or the equivalent of 100 kg per person per day. Flexible, fast and efficient, the truck nevertheless has an environmental impact which manufacturers and operators are continuously working to reduce.


    Truck manufacture is primarily an assembly process that has very few adverse effects. Production sites with ISO 14001 certification, usually have an environmental management system in place, where waste is managed and recycled. The truck is made from a significant amount of recycled materials.


    Almost the entire environmental impact of the truck results from its operation, generating pollutant gases and carbon dioxide (CO2).

    Atmospheric pollution: some spectacular reductions
    In Europe, the battle against air pollution caused by trucks has been fought effectively by the manufacturers for 25 years as Euro emissions standards have developed.

    Euro standards for heavy-duty vehicles

    Standard Vehicle entry
    into service
    Euro 0 1st October 1990
    Euro 1
    1st October 1993
    Euro 2
    1st October 1996
    Euro 3
    1st October 2001
    Euro 4
    1st October 2006
    Euro 5
    1st October 2009
    Euro 6
    1st January 2014

    Between 1990 and 2014, trucks have reduced their emissions spectacularly:
    -98% for nitrogen oxides (NOx),
    -95% for unburnt hydrocarbons (HC),
    -89% for carbon monoxide (CO)
    -97% for particulate matters (PM)

    In 2014, Euro 6 came into force, imposing a five-fold reduction in nitrogen oxides and six-fold reduction in particulates compared to the Euro 5 standard.

    Greenhouse gases: continued reduction in fuel consumption
    Although air pollution remains an issue, the biggest challenge for the truck is to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases, in this case, carbon dioxide. CO2 emissions are directly related to the fuel consumption of Diesel engines. In France, when a truck burns one litre of diesel, it emits 3.07 kg of CO2. (1)

    Through continuous improvement of truck productivity, manufacturers have made it even more frugal. Since 1960, the average fuel consumption of a road transport rig (tractor and semi-trailer) has been halved, whereas power output has almost tripled.

    These gains have been made despite the technical complexity introduced by the emissions standards. Euro 6 truck trucks consume no more fuel, in some cases up to 5% less according to the manufacturers, compared to previous generations.

    Vehicle unit fuel consumption has reduced and despite an increase in the distances covered, CO2 emissions for road transport remain constant throughout Europe.

    Fuel and CO2: additional savings are possible
    To help hauliers further reduce their fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, some measures can be taken at the operational stage: optimum configuration of vehicle equipment (optimised drive trains, aerodynamically designed accessories and "intelligent" functions); eco-drive training for drivers; long-term measurement and analysis of truck fuel consumption figures using suitable software; improvement in performance throughout the life cycle (adjustments and checks, rebuilding and upgrade, genuine parts, accessories, eco-lubricants, etc.). Together, these measures can reduce fuel consumption by up to 15% (2).

    Alternative solutions to diesel in the battle against urban pollution
    The battle against urban transport pollution calls for a range of solutions. Engines running on natural gas, electricity (100% or
    Diesel-electric hybrids) or bio-diesel mixed with diesel or replacing it completely, enable transport with zero or significantly reduced CO2 emissions and pollutants.

    Significant noise reduction
    Today, 32 trucks together are required to obtain the volume of noise produced by just one vehicle from 1970. The progress achieved on the Diesel engine and all mechanical components, the exhaust system and contact between the tyres and the road, have all contributed to this result. A truck running on natural gas is 2 dB quieter than its Diesel equivalent, whereas a 100% electric truck is practically silent (-63 dB).


    A road tractor weighs 7 tonnes on average. Mostly made from metals, it has a very high recycling rate, in the order of 95% (3).


    Truck manufacturers have the technologies to reduce truck fuel consumption figures by just over 1% a year between now and 2025. These gains can be achieved by optimising the drive trains but also by further reducing the drag coefficient of road transport rigs.

    Although Diesel engines will continue to dominate over long distances, the progress made in electrical transport, natural gas and bio-fuel.



(1) This emission factor takes into account emissions during the operating phase and emissions during the upstream phase (emissions relating to oil extraction, oil refining and distribution of fuel). Source: Decree of 10 April 2012 for the application of articles 5, 6 and 8 of Decree No. 2011-1336 dated 24 October 2011 relating to information on the quantity of carbon dioxide emitted by a transport system


(3) Life cycle analysis of a Renault Trucks T 460 4x2 tractor