The conversion of the transport sector to sustainability, that is to a framework respectful of both the environment and the health of the inhabitants of the planet, is one of the greatest challenges of this century. In the past, road, sea and air transport, and in a large part, railways have needed, in order to develop, to draw heavily on fossil resources. Transport is indeed one of the most hydrocarbon-consuming sectors nowadays. Although the growth of transport has been one of the key enabling factors for the industrial revolution for a hundred and fifty years, allowing many countries to emerge from poverty, it has in the meantine contributed to the deterioration of air quality in cities in the world and to an increase in CO2 emissions, thus to global warming.
For decades to come, both local, national, and even supranational public authorities will mobilise to encourage the transport sector to renew their fleet of vehicles in depth, towards clean motorizations. Individuals will also be directly concerned, through the tightening of emission standards to which car manufacturers are subjected. Here are some examples. The EU has just decided to reduce truck emissions by 30% by 2030. And public bus markets will have to comprise up to 45% of clean vehicles in 2025. Across Europe, North America and Asia notably, many municipalities are imposing low-emission areas in their city centres.
This rapid change leads to a questioning of the models of design, production and use of transportation means as we had known them throughout the 20th century. Moreover, the advent of artificial intelligence is gradually introducing a large degree of driving autonomy, an additional factor of disruptive evolution for transport.
What issues is this situation raising for the players of the transportation sector, notably for road?
A first range of issues relates to the kind(s) of clean motorizations to pick: the alternatives are indeed plentiful, from natural gas (CNG, LNG) to LPG, electric (fast or slow recharge, hybrid or full-electric...), hydrogen, biofuels…They display different features such as various levels of technological maturity and adequacy to uses, all of them to be carefully scanned.
It is also necessary to study the models of commercialisation and financing (one-off sales, leasing…) and marketing. Additionally, it will be essential to plan carefully the R&D plans, industrial Investments and the much needed partnerships over the value chain, from the procurement of materials to end-of-life and recycling.