Mercedes-Benz eActros 300 Sattelzugmaschine in Tirol Mercedes-Benz eActros 300 tractor in Tyrol

The US Government has signed an agreement to achieve 100 per cent zero-emission bus and truck sales by the year 2040, in a move announced at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt last week.

TheGlobal Memorandum of Understanding which is a non-binding  agreement on Zero-Emission Medium-and Heavy-Duty Vehicles plots a road map  a path to an electric and hydrogen-powered future for heavy vehicle segments.

A total of 16 other countries signed the MoU, including the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Uruguay, Turkey, Austria, Canada, but not Australia yet, as far as we can tell

“We have to work together across oceans and borders to meet our clean energy goals,” said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, at the summit.

“This global partnership will leverage the billions of dollars in clean transportation investments provided by President Biden’s agenda to drive technological innovation, lower vehicle costs, and reduce transportation emissions,” Granholm said.

The signing of the MOU by the United States follows a bicameral letter to President Biden, led by  US Democrat Senator Martin Heinrich  from New Mexico, along with and 15 other US  politicians, urging the president to take action to reduce emissions produced by trucks and buses.

A number of large companies, including truck maker Scania and logistics giant DHL, have also endorsed the non-binding MOU.

“As a global leader in logistics and delivery services, DHL Express has long recognized the important role that our industry plays in decarbonizing the transportation sector,” said Greg Hewitt, CEO of DHL Express USA.

Over the past three years a number of truck makers have rolled out battery-electric trucks, as have a number of bus manufacturers. however the success of the take up ion ZEV depends on purchases by end users, as well as the creation of charging infrastructure specific to long-haul trucks.

Just over the past year we’ve seen a surprising number of debuts from Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and a handful of other truck makers, including the Benz eActros LongHaul,  with makers trying to turn long-distance EV trucking into a reality.However the manufacturers themselves acknowledge the types of routes served by trucks matter quite a bit at this stage, as fleets have to invest in charging infrastructure at both end points.

Daily routes of a round 300km by heavy-duty EV trucks are possible at the moment, and they are being planned by fleet operators between ports and warehouses, allowing for a predictable charging schedule.

The situation with buses is a bit more complex in the USA. Unlike Europe and a number of other regions, the US has not invested heavily in trolley-buses or battery-electric buses, and offerings from manufacturers remain modest. The issue of charging infrastructure is perhaps less problematic than for long-haul trucking, as buses tend to charge at their own depots and serve a limited geographic area.

So it will certainly be a while before we see a battery-electric Greyhound bus travel for hours at a time between charging stations.

Of course, there is no penalty if this goal is not reached by 2040, after all, a non-binding memorandum of understanding is just that, non binding! As this is several presidential administrations into the future, the non-achievement of this target could be later explained away by market factors, as we’ve seen with other such long-term agendas.