Introducing VECTO

From the June 2016 issue.

The European Commission is working on a tool to measure the environmental footprint of every commercial vehicle registered on the continent.

If the European Commission’s environmental policy team is right, VECTO is about to become the ultimate buzzword in commercial road transport. Short for Vehicle Energy Consumption Calculation Tool, VECTO is at the heart of what could become an EU-wide certification system for CO2 output – with the potential to go global.

While the current Euro VI emissions standard is focusing on the reduction of noxious gases first and foremost, VECTO is meant to complement it by adding a more comprehensive ‘green’ layer to the policy. The resulting system would be able to categorise the EU’s entire vehicle parc and establish the exact CO2 output for every individual commercial vehicle.

While a draft bill is yet to be presented to the Commission, Brussels has acknowledged that all commercial vehicles are different, and that bodywork and vehicle weight, as well as gross combination weight, are fluctuating variables that can change a vehicle’s environmental footprint dramatically.

As such, the EU tasked an Italian-based Joint Research Centre to develop a tool that is able to take these variations into account and certify each vehicle and vehicle combination separately. To ensure scientific accuracy, the Centre collaborated with the Technical University of Graz, Austria, which has been at the forefront of heavy vehicle emissions research for the past decade or so. It also involved environmental organisation Transport & Environment as an independent third party.

In joining resources, the VECTO team quickly realised that the current EU certification system was somewhat short-sighted to fully grasp the environmental impact of a vehicle, as the two existing test cycles would only measure the engine and towing unit’s emissions output.

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