The IRU has defended the environmental role of the coach and suggested that future power options will require the use of ‘renewable fuels, including bio-LNG and HVO as well as diesel-electric hybrids.
In its new Coach of the Future report, the IRU analyses the different alternatives to diesel becoming available to coach operators from an environmental and economic perspective, and assesses the conditions needed to accelerate the shift to greener fuels. It points out that such fuels used to power those coaches need to be suitable for long-distance journeys and the charging and refuelling infrastructure needs to be readily available.
The IRU Coach of the Future report identifies that bio-LNG, HVO blends and diesel-electric hybrids represent more sustainable options that are, or soon will be, technologically available. The international trade body calls for efforts to overcome the main barriers to implementation, namely the high costs of investment in new vehicles and the lack of suitable infrastructure. The IRU claims that battery electric vehicles will not be suitable for long-distance coach transport services owing to their range and battery constraints.
“More and more cities are introducing bans on diesel vehicles and coaches are being unfairly caught up in those initiatives, despite already being part of the solution to pollution and congestion,” says Matthias Maedge, who leads IRU’s activities in the EU. “The sector is more than willing to play its part in supporting greener cities, but for the moment it has no obvious alternatives. Sufficient time must be provided to ensure that greener vehicles are available on the market, suitable infrastructure is fully developed, and policies supporting fleet renewal are in place before pushing ahead with blanket diesel vehicle bans.”
The Coach of the Future report shows that, if all the required conditions are met, the European coach sector could replace half of its existing diesel fleet with bio-LNG, HVO and diesel-hybrid vehicles by 2035 at the earliest.
“Rushed bans would only result in negative costs for society and transport operators, with a resulting detrimental effect on the environment,” adds Maedge. “City authorities must therefore recognise that there are limited technology and fuel options available for trucks and that such alternatives are still non-existent for coaches.”