By Julia Fioretti
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Trucks in the European Union are no more fuel efficient than they were more than a decade ago, according to a report released on Thursday, as calls increase for emissions from heavy duty vehicles to be regulated in the same way as cars.
The study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) found that the fuel efficiency of heavy duty vehicles, which are responsible for one third of CO2 emissions in the EU but only a small fraction of vehicles on the road, had remained unchanged since the early 2000s.
The report comes as EU antitrust regulators are investigating some of Europe's biggest truck makers for price fixing and coordinating the introduction of new emissions technologies, according to a copy of the statement of objections seen by Reuters.
The truck manufacturers accused of operating a cartel, Daimler, Volvo, Iveco, Volkswagen-controlled Scania <VOWG_p.DE>, MAN and DAF, could face fines of up to 10 percent of their annual revenue if found guilty.
The study by the ICCT, the same group that uncovered German carmaker Volkswagen's <VOWG_p.DE> manipulation of diesel nitrogen oxide emission tests, found that the share of CO2 emissions from trucks was growing in the EU.
In contrast, the United States in June proposed tighter standards on truck emissions which the researches estimated could lead to a 33 percent reduction of fuel consumption rates from 2010 levels.
Industry group the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) said fuel consumption per tonne-kilometre of today's trucks had been reduced by at least 60 percent since 1965.
"Per ton transported, this has resulted in fuel consumption of as little as nearly one liter of diesel per 100 tonne-km, delivering a significant reduction of CO2 emissions," said Erik Jonnaert, Secretary General of ACEA, whose members include Daimler, Renault, and Volkswagen.
Jonnaert pointed to a study by the research institute Transport and Mobility Leuven that showed the industry was on track to meet its commitment to reduce fuel consumption from new vehicles by 20 percent by 2020, compared with 2005.
The ICCT study analyzed sales trends in the EU showing that more heavy and large vehicles were being sold in the 28-country bloc, similar to those on the U.S. market.
The study goes on to recommend setting fuel efficiency standards or CO2 limits for heavy duty vehicles to bring down emissions. The EU has introduced a limit of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g/km) by 2021 for cars and vans but has so far not done the same for trucks, although several countries have called for it.
"Truckmakers claim we can trust them to deliver more efficient trucks," said William Todts, freight manager at campaign group Transport & Environment.
"The reality is that for the last decade they've made virtually no progress in fuel efficiency while for much of that time they are alleged to have operated a cartel. It's high time we shift gears and introduce U.S.-style fuel economy standards," he said.
(Editing by Greg Mahlich and Mark Potter)