Position paper – Review of the Weights and Dimensions Directive

The European Commission plans to revise Council Directive 96/53/EC on the maximum weights and dimensions of heavy-duty vehicles (‘Weights and Dimensions Directive’) with the aim of aligning it with targets set for the reduction of greenhouse emissions from transport.

Zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), namely battery-electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, will have to become the backbone of road transport if the sector is to reach its decarbonisation targets. These new powertrain technologies come with additional requirements with respect to available space in the vehicles, total vehicle weight and axle weights. These differences to conventionally powered vehicles should now be addressed to enable and support the market uptake of zero-emission vehicles.

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) therefore welcomes the revision of the Weights and Dimensions Directive as it provides the opportunity to address several shortcomings, including removing inconsistencies and barriers that hinder an accelerated market uptake of ZEVs.

This revision should focus on two key elements:

  1. Specific provisions on vehicle dimensions, total weights and axle weights to accelerate the market uptake of ZEVs.
  2. Longer and heavier vehicle combinations: European Modular System (EMS).

The objective of ACEA’s recommendations is to remove barriers that hinder the market uptake of ZEVs and place them on a level playing field with conventionally powered vehicles with respect to payload, etc. The review also needs to be carried out in the context of the wider regulatory framework. In particular, it needs to be accompanied by revisions (ideally made simultaneously) to other relevant regulations, eg (EU) 2021/535, Annex XIII.

ACEA would also recommend that the text and structure of the Weights and Dimensions Directive is thoroughly analysed, clarified and simplified to reduce complexity and minimise potential confusion and contradictions.

The revision of the Weights and Dimensions Directive should simplify as much as possible the structure of the existing regulation, as it currently includes a range of different provisions for several very specifically defined vehicle segments.

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