Europe’s medium and heavy-duty truck markets continue to electrify

28 June 2024

The electrification of Europe’s medium and heavy-duty truck sector is growing, with more models available, enabling increased registrations and lower emissions. Przemek Kolasa, data manager for commercial vehicles at EV Volumes, explores the figures with Autovista24 special content editor Phil Curry.

The EU transport sector is responsible for more than a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in the bloc. However, in the commercial-vehicle segment, the transition to zero-emission mobility is well underway.

Domestic vehicle manufacturers are contributing to this move, working heavily on the electrification of their products. Most have already launched zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) for different commercial applications.

However, there is a greater need to accelerate this transition. In February 2024, the European Commission increased the target reductions in CO2 emissions for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. In 2030, levels must be 45% lower than those recorded in 2019, while this increases to a 65% reduction in 2035, and a 90% reduction in 2040.

Helping the market is the development of national strategy frameworks, which implement EU regulations on the expansion of the bloc’s charging and hydrogen infrastructure.

This is aimed at enabling the rollout of fast chargers, reducing the charging times for carriers. The medium-duty sector will benefit from this the most, with EV Volumes data showing that the average range of a vehicle in this segment is 220km.

For heavy-duty trucks, the average range is 330km on a single charge. To help fleets in this market, a transition from the current Combined Charge System to the Megawatt Charge System (MCS) is being studied. This will help to drastically reduce charging times for larger vehicles, as the MCS can deliver up to 3.5 megawatts of power.

MDVs lead the way

In terms of primary application, the majority of ZEVs in the medium and heavy-duty vehicle market belong to the medium-duty van (MDV) segment. This is made up of panel vans above 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight (GVW), and holds a 48% share of zero-emission deliveries.

This is followed by rigid trucks with a 37% share of ZEVs, then comes semi-trailers (7%). The remaining 8% is shared amongst other applications, such as refuse collectors and fire trucks.

In terms of share by segment, the electric medium-duty truck market held a 7% share of the overall market in 2023. This was an increase of 3.7 percentage points (pp) over its 2022 figures.

Most electric medium-duty trucks are MDVs, and the ability to drive one of these vehicles up to 4.25-tonnes GVW with a category B driving license is boosting sales growth. New regulations in Germany are also helping. Vehicles with a GVW above 3.5 tonnes travelling in the country will be subject to road tolls after 1 July. The rate per kilometre will be around €0.25, and will depend on the CO2 emission class and Euro classification.

In 2023, the medium segment was dominated by Ford, followed by Daimler Truck Group and Maxus. The OEMs are offering strong products for MDV applications, such as the Ford e-Transit, Mercedes e-Sprinter and Maxus eDeliver 9, which held a 41%, 17% and 11% market share respectively in 2023.

A positive start

The first quarter of 2024 saw further growth for medium-duty electric models. Compared to the same period in 2023, the market has grown by 2% in terms of volumes. However, the market share has dropped, with the three-month figure sitting at 7.7%, down by 0.4pp compared to the previous year.

Between January and March, Ford continued to hold the top spot in the charts, with a 61% share of deliveries, an increase of 10pp year on year. The manufacturer was followed by Daimler Truck Group, which saw its share fall by 10pp to 7%. CHN Group took third place, with a 6% market share doubling what it held at the same point in 2023.

Heavy-duty growth

For the heavy-duty segment, electric trucks above 16 tonnes GVW captured a 1% market share in 2023, increasing by 0.6pp year on year.

Volvo Truck Group has been a market leader in the electric heavy-duty market for a while, and continued this trend in 2023, registering a 61% share. They were followed by Daimler Truck Group with 11% of the market, and Volkswagen (VW) Group, which took 10%.

The lead for Volvo Truck Group was helped by its strong electric lineup. The manufacturer offers the Volvo FE, FL, FH, FM and FMX as well as the Renault D and T series to customers, which have proven popular. Meanwhile, Daimler Truck launched the eActros, the eAtego, and the eEconic, which is mostly for refuse collector applications. Finally, VW Group is offered the Scania G/L/P/R/S series and the MAN eTGM and eTGX.

During the first quarter of 2024, the electric heavy-duty truck market also saw growth. Deliveries were up 19% in terms of volumes, with a market share of 2.2%, up 0.4pp over the first quarter of 2023.

Volvo still led the market at the end of the quarter, but its 50% share was 15pp down compared to the first three months of last year. Daimler Truck Group increased its market share by 15pp, as it rose from 6% last year to 21% for this period in 2024. Meanwhile, VW Group captured 15% of electric deliveries, down by 6pp year on year.

Fuel cell extension

Hydrogen fuel-cell technology is a good option to extend the range for heavy-duty transport as it transitions to zero-emission mobility in Europe. While electric trucks can travel 330km on a single charge, it will most likely be 2026 before the market sees batteries that can offer up to 550km range.

In Europe, the fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) share is dominated by Hyundai with its Xcient FCEV. A total of 150 units will be delivered by the end of 2024, with Germany likely to be their biggest market. However, many units will also be going to Switzerland, among other countries.

Overall, it is clear that the electrification of the medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicle market is increasing, both in manufacturer developments and fleet purchases. Domestic manufacturers in Europe still lead the way, yet the potential of Chinese brands looking to enter the market, with a focus on the medium segment, could alter the future picture.

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