Daimler & Volvo Group Efforts to Delay Clean Truck Transition in US Draw International Criticism

Letters to Daimler & Volvo Group CEOs Highlight Their Interference In Advancing a Strong Federal Clean Trucks Rule; Request Support

Today, more than forty environmental and advocacy groups from around the globe, including Evergreen Action, Sierra Club, Environmental Action Germany, and Public Citizen sent letters to the CEOs of Volvo Group and Daimler Truck calling on them to stop their attempts to hinder clean trucks and clean air progress in the US. While both companies have made public commitments to electrify their heavy-duty vehicles and have been supportive of a transition to zero emission trucks in Europe, they continue to attempt to stymy progress in the United States through back door opposition directed at the truck standards proposed by the US EPA. 

In the USA, heavy-duty trucks and buses only account for 4 percent of vehicles on the road, but they are responsible for more than 25 percent of total transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, emissions from trucks are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, and the number of truck miles traveled on the nation’s roads is forecast to continue to grow significantly in the coming decades. 

In the letter to Daimler Truck CEO Martin Daum, advocates point out that Daimler “has sought to delay and weaken these vital EPA safeguards, both through its own comments to EPA, which state that ‘[a]ny new Phase GHG standards should not take effect until Model Year (MY) 2030 at the earliest,’ and those of the Engine Manufacturers Association, to which Daimler belongs. Urging a multiple year delay in EPA standards is simply inconsistent with the zero-emitting solutions that are available and rapidly growing in the marketplace with the help of historic investments in the Inflation Reduction Act.” 

Daimler’s interference in US clean trucks policy is even more concerning, considering its public commitment to transition to “carbon-neutral” heavy-duty vehicles in the US, Japan and Europe by 2039. The letter further states that “Greg Treinen, Vice President, Daimler Truck North America, has underscored, ‘[w]e’re fully committed to building a zero-emission, carbon-neutral future,’ and Daimler is already producing and delivering electric trucks in the U.S. and installing public charging infrastructure.”  

"While Daimler and Volvo Group tout their climate leadership in Europe, their US subsidiaries are waging an aggressive lobbying campaign to undermine the Biden administration's relatively modest pollution standards for heavy duty vehicles," said Evergreen Action Vice President Craig Segall. "Their calls for a multi-year delay and significant curtailing of EPA's Phase 3 rule fly in the face of Daimler's commitment to carbon neutrality for all new trucks in the US by 2039 and Volvo Group's pledge to achieve net zero emissions for trucks by 2040. It's time for these companies to stop talking out of both sides of their mouths and let US regulators do their jobs."

In a similar letter to Volvo Group’s CEO, Martin Lundstadt, groups also call out the hypocrisy of Volvo Trucks’ interference with US heavy-duty standards. The letter states that while “Volvo Trucks has publicly set out to reach 50% fully electric vehicles at a global scale by 2030,” their efforts to delay stricter standards in the USA where significant Inflation Reduction Act investments are available, is “inconsistent with the company’s goal.”

A year ago, Volvo Group highlighted the US has an opportunity for a swift transition, saying that “…major markets like the US are establishing a policy framework which aims to accelerate the transition to fossil-free alternatives by creating an attractive investment environment.” In the letter to Lundstadt, groups point the finger at the company’s attempts to benefit from these policies while also “consistently fighting against clean air and clean truck standards.” Further, the “USA subsidiary is not working alone: they are pushing back on policies that could save thousands of lives in coordination with the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA), as well as the American Trucking Associations (ATA).”

Strong federal standards to urgently get electric trucks on our roads will help deliver health, climate, and economic benefits,” said Katherine García, Sierra Club Clean Transportation for All Director. “Volvo and Daimler claim they support electric trucks, but their continued lobbying against the EPA’s climate and clean air safeguards is blatantly hypocritical. It’s time these manufacturers line their actions up with their public commitments and support strong truck standards.” 

Daimler and Volvo Group’s hypocrisy hasn’t gone unnoticed in the international community, either. Jürgen Resch, Environmental Action Germany (DUH)’s CEO and awardee of CARB Haagen Smit Award for Clean Air had this to say: “Daimler and Volvo only pretend to engage in climate protection. Actually, they lobby against ambitious regulations behind the scenes. Those regulations wouldn’t even be too much of a challenge given the manufacturers’ own goals that they proudly proclaimed. In addition, they can rely on generous subsidies under the US Inflation Reduction Act. This is pure cynicism. EPA should not rely on voluntary commitments of truck manufacturers.” 

Volvo Group and Daimler’s attempts to delay and water down EPA’s Phase 3 heavy-duty proposal are not only harmful to the health of Americans across the country, their actions fly in the face of their global company commitments and public statements.