Reducing GHG Emissions and Saving Fuel: The Benefits of Driving Heavy Goods Vehicles at 80 km/h in France

2023-10-18 04:00:09

Driving heavy goods vehicles at 80 km/h on motorways in France instead of 90 km/h would make it possible to save fuel and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – and all without direct cost to carriers! Transport (passengers and goods) is the sector which emits the most greenhouse gases in France, with a share of 32%. It is also the only sector of activity of the French economy whose emissions have not fallen compared to 1990, while national emissions were reduced by 20% at the same time.

France is going through a purchasing power crisis which is affecting individuals, and businesses are suffering in this tense context. This is also the case for the road freight transport (RTM) sector, which is also facing a shortage of drivers, an increase in operating costs, including salaries and the price of fuel, and the need to reduce GHG emissions.

What short-term response can the TRM provide to curb the increase in its emissions in this tense economic context and global climate emergency? Is it possible to reduce energy consumption and GHGs? And at what financial cost? A speed of 80 km/h for heavy goods vehicles (HGV) on motorways allows a reduction of around 5% in fuel consumption compared to the current maximum speed of 90 km/h. This gain can be obtained quickly, without prior technical intervention – you just have to decide and apply it, for example via the cruise control/speed limiter.

A reduction of 1.2 million tonnes of CO₂ emissions

According to the French Road Union (URF), 73% of the annual distance traveled by HGVs is on motorways. Applied to 73% of total HGV consumption, the 5% reduction in consumption gives a saving of 389,450,000 liters of diesel and a reduction of around 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

With total TRM emissions of 41 million tonnes of carbon equivalent (CO2eq) in 2020, this reduction represents more than half of the annual 5% emissions reduction target. The limitation of 80 km/h for HGVs on motorways is one of the measures proposed by the ecological transition agency Ademe, in its Objective CO2 program for transporters.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers “The decarbonization of road transport remains a blind spot in public policies”

What would be the direct cost for carriers? With an average highway HGV consumption of 33 liters/100 km, a 5% reduction in consumption gives 31.35 l/100. At the average cost (excluding VAT) of a liter of diesel in August 2023, the saving would be 2.48 euros per 100 km. And of course the more the price of diesel increases, the greater the savings made.

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