Monthly newsletters from the Vice Presidents of the HVTT Forum.

March 2024 Newsletter

Dear HVTT Forum member,

Time really flies! Even though it feels not so long ago when I met many of you at fantastic HVTT17 in Brisbane,  it has already been nearly 5 months. Looking ahead, I would like to start this newsletter to remind you the call for abstracts for HVTT18, which will take a place in Québec City, Canada next year. Short abstracts (300 to 500 words) are due on April 19, 2024 covering one or more of the conference topics, from theoretical to practical applications. Submission of ongoing research is encouraged if meaningful results are expected before the full paper submission deadline. More information on conference topics and submission procedure can be found on here.

As for the weather in Europe, we are just entering a nice spring period after a fairly mild winter with very little snow throughout the continent and varying levels of precipitation per country. The biggest drop in average precipitation is seen in Spain, which currently lacks a lot of water especially in Catalonia, not giving the best outlook for the upcoming summer period. Here in the Netherlands, we had plenty of precipitation… as usual, so everything is turning green now, and the blooming tulip season is about to start.

Writing about green spring brings me to the ‘Greening Freight Package’ which sits highly on the political agenda of the European Parliament. In this month two key voting’s have happened which I would like to highlight in this newsletter, since they may potentially change the future face of European of road freight. It goes on the revision of the Weights and Dimension Directive and the new emission norm EURO 7.

The revision of the Weights and Dimensions Directive

To help the commercial road transport industry achieve its decarbonisation objectives through the market uptake of the zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), namely battery electric and hydrogen powered trucks and buses, European Commission started already last year a revision of Weights and Dimensions Directive. The main reason is that the current directive is no longer suitable and penalizes Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs), which are typically heavier than existing diesel vehicles. Therefore, the revision legislatively opens the door to wider deployment of ZEVs to allow these vehicles to exceed standard limits without sacrificing payload performance. Next to sufficient availability of the charging infrastructure, this is currently considered as one of big barriers, which significantly influences the competitiveness and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). After all it is the TCO which will eventually drive the adoption and implementation of ZEVs, since it is primary decision-making criterium for most end users when buying such a vehicle.

Nearly two weeks ago the European Parliament’s plenary took a historic decision to support the report on the revision of the Weights and Dimensions Directive. The approved version refines the incentives proposed by the European Commission on weight exemptions for ZEV’s but also additional incentives for vehicles used for the road legs of combined and intermodal transport. Next to those the directive revision also aims to legislatively support the ability to use 44-tonne combinations and High-Capacity European Modular System (EMS) vehicles, i.e. 25,25 meters long, for cross-border transport between countries where such vehicles are allowed. In Year 2034 this permission should be phased out for diesel hauling units and allowed only to ZEV-EMS. Even though the cross-border transport of 25.25m long EMS vehicle is not entirely banned in Europe, making it explicit part of revised directive would greatly ease the implementation by all member states. This represents big change in the mindset of the European Parliament which was always very reluctant to officially support the wider deployment of EMS vehicles, manifesting now the commitment to use all means to reduce the emissions in the road freight.

It became a good habit here in Europe over past decades that whenever a discussion about High-Capacity Vehicles starts, the rail sector is always ready repeating the ’’evergreens without a proof’’ regarding reduced safety on the roads, increased wear of the infrastructure, additional CO2 emissions from transport, and fatal blow for the rail freight sector due to massive modal shift. This pattern persisted in the recent discussions as well. So, let’s see how the situation unfolds this time. The trilogue discussions involving the Council and the European Parliament are set for June 2024, however there is still lot of hesitation in the Council when it comes to the incentives for zero emission vehicles.

If the agreement will be found, there will be possibility of a second reading afterward, meaning the final decision will be taken under the next parliament after the June elections.  If the directives are adopted, they will come into effect as soon as 1 January 2026.


In the middle of March, the European Parliament has also approved the new EURO 7 standard for vehicles. This standard consolidates emission regulations for cars, vans, buses, and trucks for the first time. Besides the exhaust emissions known for all previous Euro standards, EURO 7 newly introduces limits also for particles emitted from tyre and brake wear, especially for electric vehicles, along with regulations for batteries’ performance.

However, there is criticism as the EURO 7 limits for cars and vans remain the same as in EURO 6, while the limits for buses and trucks are lowered. In addition, there will be requirements also for the trailing units like semitrailers to reduce CO2 footprint. This should be achieved through aerodynamics enhancing devices and/or electrification. Despite concerns, the new norm aims to reduce road vehicle emissions and facilitate the industry’s transition toward banning nearly all combustion engine car sales by 2035. The Euro 7 standard will take effect no earlier than 2027 for cars and vans and four years later for buses and trucks, pending formal approval by member states.

To conclude, I would like bring to your attention, to the proceedings from the 10th International Workshop on Sustainable Road Freight, which were recently published can be now accessed.


Best regards from Europe and happy Easter,

Karel Kural
Vice President, Europe