Heavy trucks


Transportation of freight by heavy truck

GHG emissions

9% of total Canadian emissions in 2018 (42% of transportation emissions), plus the emissions
generated in the oil and gas sector to produce diesel

Options for decarbonization

Hydrogen fuel cell trucks; battery electric trucks; catenary electric trucks

Stage of transition


Nature of the problem today

Up-front costs of vehicles; weight of batteries; fuel production and/or infrastructure;
uncertain investment environment

Other systemic issues

Noise and air pollution, congestion, poor load factors, labour shortages, small profit margins

Opportunities and concerns

For users: reduced maintenance, improved vehicle performance. For communities: reduced air and noise pollution.

Economic development opportunities: Fuel cell tucks: manufacture of fuel cells, vehicle assembly, hydrogen production, accelerating emergence of hydrogen economy; Battery and catenary trucks: battery manufacture, vehicle manufacture.

Concerns: hydrogen safety; appropriate shift to low and zero emission hydrogen supply.

Priorities for action

Policy supports for (a) vehicle development (optimising fuel cell and electric motors for heavy duty road vehicles (b) hydrogen production (from methane with CCS and by electrolysis from renewables) and (c) build out of fueling infrastructure along major transport corridors. These can include R&D subsidies, support for fleet conversions and terminals, public procurement policies, zero emission vehicle standards, development of standards and safety rules, and cross jurisdictional coordination.

Longer-term issues

Managing grid burden and/or stepwise development of hydrogen production and consumption; integration with connected and autonomous vehicle technologies; transition to zero emission hydrogen (either by ensuring offset availability or shifting entirely to production from net zero electricity).

Indicators of progress

Percent of zero emission vehicle sales; scale of infrastructure build out; value added in zero emission vehicle value chain; carbon intensity of grid or hydrogen used for heavy vehicles

Assessement table: Heavy trucks

Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Hydrogen Fuel Cell


Battery electric

Catenary electric



Natural gas

Compressed or liquified NG

Renewable NG (biogas)

Synthetic NG (power from decarbonized sources, carbon from biomass or air capture)