The global medium- and heavy-duty vehicle (MHDV) industry is beginning to respond to the demands of governments wishing to reduce emissions from all aspects of transportation. Commercial and government fleet operators are now looking at investments in fuel efficiency technologies and alternative clean-burning fuels. Conventional vehicles are getting cleaner and more efficient through incremental improvements in engines, transmissions, tires and aerodynamics. However, the added costs associated with these changes are beginning to reduce the cost differential of moving to alternative powertrains.
The commercial MHDV segment accounts for a large portion of the total fuel and energy consumed in the road transportation sector. Fuel cost used to be a major driver for fleet managers when deciding on the purchase of new vehicles. With the significant lowering of oil prices since 2015 and the availability of low-cost natural gas in some markets, expenditure on fuel has become less of a concern. Governments in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific are in the process of rolling out new legislation to set emissions and efficiency targets. Although these standards will not take effect for a few years, the nature of heavy vehicle development and fleet purchasing cycles means planning and development must begin soon. According to Navigant Research, global commercial alternative powertrain MHDV sales are expected to grow from about 347,000 vehicles in 2016 to more than 820,000 in 2026.
Navigant Research's report breaks the global commercial MHDV market into four major categories: medium-duty buses, heavy-duty buses, medium-duty trucks, and heavy-duty trucks. Each of these vehicle categories is assessed for the suitability of alternate powertrain types: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric, natural gas, propane (autogas), and hydrogen fuel cell. Global market forecasts for annual sales, segmented by region and powertrain type, extend through 2026.