China has committed to peaking its CO2 emissions by 2030 in order to achieve its 2060 carbon neutrality target. Heavy-duty trucks (HDTs) are an important area to decarbonize, given the continuously rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in this sector. Various low-carbon options have emerged, yet a comprehensive understanding of the extent to which these options can decarbonize HDT throughout the life cycle remains limited. Here, we adopt a life-cycle analysis to assess and compare the GHG mitigation potential ofhighly efficient diesel engines, battery-electrics, and hydrogen fuel cells for China’s class-8 HDTs in 2030. Results show that all three options could enable >38% life-cycle GHG reductions. The battery-electric option, however, requires well-established fast-charging infrastructures to maintain the freight-carrying capacity that will otherwise be compromised by larger batteries. Hydrogen fuel cells can attain 80% reduction when paired with low-carbon hydrogen. Hybrid strategies, including improving engine efficiency, decarbonizing power grids, optimizing freight logistics, and incentivizing behavioral changes, are necessary for the efficient and effective HDT decarbonization that is key to China achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.