Slovak carriers without green trucks will lose clients

The Slovak Electromobility Association (SEVA) has released a new report that looks in detail at the electrification of road freight transport. This comprehensive document provides a thorough overview of the current state of the art in this area at home and abroad, a set of recommendations based on the experience of developed electrified countries, an analysis of the challenges, as well as the necessary legislative measures towards a more sustainable future in the field of heavy goods transport. An alarming finding is the threat to Slovak hauliers, who may soon face a loss of competitiveness.

In 2016, Slovak truckers still accounted for 30 000 million kilometres of international transport in the European Union, which ranked them fifth in the Union. “By 2022, they had gradually dropped to tenth place and lost a sixth of their performance,” says Patrik Križanský, director of the Slovak Association for Electromobility, warning, ” Now they are at risk of further loss of markets unless the state helps them to remain competitive in the transition to zero-emission vehicles. In Germany, for example, a toll system is being launched in December that will give green trucks a major advantage on the road.”

Germany and Austria will be the first countries to implement the Eurovignette Directive, which will also takeCO2 emissions into account when calculating tolls. In Germany, for example, all vehicles over 18t registered before 1 July 2019 will automatically be in the highest Class 1, where tolls will increase by 83% in just a few days – from €0.190 to €0.348/km. By contrast, an electric truck registered in November 2023 will pay no toll until the end of 2026, which could mean a saving of more than €100,000 for the haulier over that time compared to a diesel tractor, and that’s just in toll fees. According to SEVA, other countries, including Hungary, are also planning to introduce the Eurovignette directive soon.

In fact, reducing emissions from freight transport is starting to be taken more and more seriously on the European market, which could quickly put our hauliers under international competitive pressure. Multinational logistics outsourcers, and consequently their providers, are beginning to demand a certain proportion of zero-emission vehicles in the fleet of hauliers. The aim is to reduce the carbon footprint by selecting carriers that make an effort to reduce emissions. Indeed, emissions from road transport continue to rise and trucks account for up to one quarter of them. The European Union’s targets, known as Fit for 55, and the revision of the regulation currently under discussion governingCO2 emissions from heavy goods vehicles, make major demands aimed at transforming the entire sector.

An important part of this, however, must be support from the state, which is still lacking in our country – both in the passenger and freight transport sectors. The SEVA report therefore proposes specific forms of state support: legislative measures, tax rules and a proposal for a system of direct subsidies to help bridge the currently large gap in the cost of acquiring electric vehicles. “The state can – and in our view must – make a significant contribution to the transition to electro-mobility through targeted measures to facilitate the purchase and use of zero-emission trucks. It can also use funding from the Recovery and Resilience Plan for part of these measures,” Križanský stresses.

Another interesting fact from the SEVA report is the statistics on domestic transport in Slovakia, where up to 63% of the total weight is transported within a distance of 50 kilometres. ” This entire volume can already be realised today with the help of electric trucks and tractor units available on the market with a range of up to 300 km, which are primarily charged at depots,” says Križanský. By increasing the range of trucks to 500 km, which will come on the market from 2024, electrification will gradually make its way over longer distances. However, this requires building high-capacity charging hubs for freight transport on major European road corridors, which is also required by the adopted European legislation focusing on infrastructure for alternative fuels.

According to the latest statistics from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), sales of zero-emission electrified heavy-duty vehicles, which include buses as well as trucks and tractor units, are starting to grow, especially in Western Europe. In the first three quarters, 3,918 electric trucks were registered in the European Union, an increase of 321.7%. 3,405 fully electric buses were also registered. “These figures show the growing interest and demand for zero-emission vehicles, which is an encouraging sign for the whole industry,” says the SEVA director.

“SEVA’s report on the Electrification of Road Freight Transport is intended to serve as a guide on the way to better understanding and implementing electrification in a sector that has traditionally been very important for Slovakia. We are ready to communicate our proposals with the new Slovak government and we positively perceive the attention given to electromobility in its programme statement,” concludes Patrik Križanský.

Case study from the SEVA report

Support for the purchase of emission-free trucks from the Recovery and Resilience Plan in Austria

The programme “Emissionsfreie Nutzfahrzeuge und Infrastruktur” or also ENIN , which is funded from the Austrian Recovery and Resilience Plan package, supports entrepreneurs in converting their fleets of commercial vehicles in categories N1, N2 and N3 to emission-free vehicles, including the necessary infrastructure. The total allocation of € 365 million is spread over several calls between 2023 and 2025.

ENIN support takes the form of a subsidy for the purchase of vehicles and associated infrastructure amounting to:

1. 36% of the acquisition cost for N1 vehicles;

2. 80 % of the additional investment cost for N2 and N3 vehicles, where the additional cost is the difference between the purchase price of the zero-emission vehicle and the average purchase price of a conventional Euro VI reference vehicle;

3. 40 % of the acquisition cost of the infrastructure, which can increase up to 60 % for transport terminals.

Battery electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and vehicles drawing traction current via overhead line collectors are supported. The obligation to operate and maintain is at least 5 years. The scheme also supports the financing of vehicle purchases through leasing. For infrastructure support, there must be a direct link between the infrastructure and the procurement of vehicles, infrastructure alone is not supported by the mechanism.

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