null

    Commercial vehicles

    Long trucks: A cost-effective solutionum to reduce CO2 emissions

    Two long trucks replace three conventional road trains reducing CO2 emissions by up to 25%.

    Two long trucks replace three conventional road trains reducing CO2 emissions by up to 25%.

    Long trucks: cost-effective solution to reduce CO2 emissions

    Smooth freight transport is essential for a modern and globally networked economy. Mobility and transport secure prosperity and jobs in Germany. Freight traffic growth in the coming years must be more sustainable and climate friendly. To this end, all modes of transport must continuously improve their efficiency: Infrastructure bottlenecks must be eliminated, modern traffic management systems deployed, and the transport modes even more closely networked. In addition, long trucks can make an important contribution on the roads. Since fewer trucks can transport the same volume, the burden on the highways and infrastructure is eased. Fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions are also reduced.

    Following a field test (2012-2016), long trucks are now being used in regular traffic on a specially approved and pre-defined route network in Germany. The vehicles in question have a length of up to 25.25 meters (27.6 yards) and a total weight of no more than 40 tons, or 44 tons in combined transport. In regular operation, two long trucks replace three conventional road trains, because a long truck can carry up to 50% more cargo by volume than a conventional truck.

    Since long trucks in Germany do not have a higher total permissible weight than conventional trucks, they are mainly used to transport light but voluminous or bulky goods. This coincides with a large proportion of transportation on the road today: For around 80% of transportation, it is not the weight but the volume of the load that is the limiting factor. That is why today's long trucks as well as the conventional truck both share the same total permissible vehicle weight of 40 tons. In combined transport, i.e., when trucks are used with ships or trains, up to 44 tons are also permitted for conventional trucks.

    More load volume per individual truck means less fuel consumption and CO2 emissions per transport unit. Experience shows that long trucks can transport the same volume with 15 to 25% less fuel. And fears that transportation would migrate from rail to long trucks have not been confirmed. Rather, it is becoming clear that rail freight capacities will be in demand more than ever in the future. To this end, it is important to know that long trucks can also be used in combined transport. But from the consignors' point of view, freight wagons and modular loading facilities must be further expanded and made more attractive.

    Long trucks less harmful to roads and bridges

    Since its total weight is distributed over more axles, a long truck is less damaging to the road infrastructure than a conventional truck. While a standard truck has a maximum of five axles, a long truck usually has seven or eight – which results in a more favorable load distribution. Thus, long trucks do not increase the need for road maintenance.

    A long truck also has a shorter braking distance than a conventional truck. As the total permissible weight remains unchanged, there is no extra weight that has to be brought to a standstill. On the contrary, the braking force can be applied to more axles. Furthermore, these vehicles are also equipped with the same active and passive safety features as their conventional counterparts: Lane departure warnings, proximity control, emergency brake assistants, etc. are mandatory in today's trucks.

    It is often argued that long trucks cannot be used within the existing infrastructure, but these vehicles are specially designed to cope with it. This can be seen, for example, in highway construction areas, which long trucks can navigate without any problems. Long trucks are also extremely steerable when maneuvering, reversing, or docking at loading bays. This makes them suitable for terminals, ports, and train stations where goods are transferred from one mode of transport to another. Long trucks are mainly used on the autobahn, where they can be just as easily overtaken as ordinary trucks.

    High capacity vehicles: Tractor unit, dolly, and two standard semitrailers

    The drivers of long trucks have proven their skill and professionalism. Experience has shown that, following training and a period of familiarization, they drive the vehicles as safely and reliably as conventional trucks.

    In Germany, the so-called "long truck type 1" is also permitted in 15 of the 16 federal states – initially for a limited period until December 31, 2023. This is an articulated truck that has been lengthened by 1.38 m (1.5 yds) to arrive at an overall length of 17.88 m (19.55 yds). This has already led to a reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of around 8%. The aim is to extend the use of these semitrailers beyond 2023 and – in a standardized form – to provide for their use throughout the EU.

    High-capacity vehicles are another way of reducing CO2 emissions in long-distance road haulage. These involve the use of a tractor unit, a dolly, and two standard semitrailers with a total length of 31.50 meters (34.44 yards). Such combinations could be used in Germany on an approved second network, one that has yet to be defined, excluding certain critical infrastructure points. The permissible total weight would have to be adjusted accordingly, but would be distributed over more axles so that the average axle load, and thus the burden on the road, would be lower compared to conventional articulated trucks. The use of two conventional semitrailers means the current standard units in the transport industry remain unchanged, and transferring to rail is possible without any restrictions. The trailers can also be readily separated and – if necessary – further towed by two tractor units. In those countries where these vehicle combinations are in use (Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, and Sweden), significant CO2 savings in real-life traffic have been confirmed. A pilot project with scientific monitoring is to be initiated to gather practical experience with such high-capacity vehicles in Germany.

    The drivers of long trucks have proven their skill and professionalism. Experience has shown that, following training and a period of familiarization, they drive the vehicles as safely and reliably as conventional trucks.

    In Germany, the so-called "long truck type 1" is also permitted in 15 of the 16 federal states – initially for a limited period until December 31, 2023. This is an articulated truck that has been lengthened by 1.38 m (1.5 yds) to arrive at an overall length of 17.88 m (19.55 yds). This has already led to a reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of around 8%. The aim is to extend the use of these semitrailers beyond 2023 and – in a standardized form – to provide for their use throughout the EU.

    High-capacity vehicles are another way of reducing CO2 emissions in long-distance road haulage. These involve the use of a tractor unit, a dolly, and two standard semitrailers with a total length of 31.50 meters (34.44 yards). Such combinations could be used in Germany on an approved second network, one that has yet to be defined, excluding certain critical infrastructure points. The permissible total weight would have to be adjusted accordingly, but would be distributed over more axles so that the average axle load, and thus the burden on the road, would be lower compared to conventional articulated trucks. The use of two conventional semitrailers means the current standard units in the transport industry remain unchanged, and transferring to rail is possible without any restrictions. The trailers can also be readily separated and – if necessary – further towed by two tractor units. In those countries where these vehicle combinations are in use (Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, and Sweden), significant CO2 savings in real-life traffic have been confirmed. A pilot project with scientific monitoring is to be initiated to gather practical experience with such high-capacity vehicles in Germany.

    Dr.-Ing. Sascha Pfeifer
    Contact person

    Dr.-Ing. Sascha Pfeifer

    Head of the Transport Policy Division

    Read on