VDA’s Commercial Vehicle Symposium 2015: “Commercial vehicles today and tomorrow – service providers for our modern mobility”
“The trucks of the future will be connected and will become even more efficient than today’s models. Our commercial vehicle industry is working intensively on connected and automated driving. This way we can make marked improvements in fuel efficiency, road safety and also profitability, particularly in road freight traffic,” said Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), at the association’s Commercial Vehicle Symposium 2015 in Berlin. Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, chairman of the VDA’s Board Group Commercial Vehicles and member of the Board of Management at Daimler AG, stressed, “We want to take new paths – to protect the environment without endangering jobs. To shape the Internet of Things, in which commercial vehicles and logistics play a key role. And to re-invent transport – through autonomous driving.”
Wissmann added, “The commercial vehicle sector is an important branch of industry for Germany – around 180,000 people are directly employed at the truck, bus, trailer and body manufacturers and their suppliers. In Germany, our truck manufacturers have a market share of about two thirds in the heavy segment. In Western Europe, nearly 40 percent of newly registered trucks over 16 t bear a German badge. For buses the figure actually comes to 44 percent. And more than half of all trailers sold in Europe are built by a German OEM. This underscores our member companies’ strength and drive for innovation.” However, he continued, it was also clear that trucks alone would not be able to cope with the traffic growth in the coming years. Wissmann stated, “We need the waterways and, of course, the railroads.” Concerning the collective bargaining dispute between the German railways and the trade union GDL, Wissmann commented: “The automotive industry is very consciously not just supporting the roads, but transports more than half of its new vehicles by rail. However, strikes on the railroads harbor the huge risk of a shift to the roads. These strikes undermine the railways, but we want a strong rail system and we back multimodal freight transport.”
Wissmann went on to say that for future-proof freight transport, the road infrastructure had to be simultaneously put to even better use – for example with the aid of long trucks. The field trial proved that the capacity of road freight could be increased using long trucks. “That will save vehicle kilometers and CO2 – on average by up to 25 percent per ton of goods transported,” he explained. The VDA president welcomed the fact that now the German states of Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia were also opening up for the field trial. “Let us now discuss jointly how we can get long trucks into regular operations in Germany. It is clear to us that the dimensions and weights that have been successfully tested in the field trial can be applied. In the future long trucks should continue to be generally underway on freeways and some federal roads, but not in inner-city areas,” Wissmann emphasized.
Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, Daimler AG
Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, the Board member at Daimler AG responsible for Daimler Trucks and Buses, said: “The German transport industry is facing some huge tasks – and huge opportunities. We want to take new paths – to protect the environment without endangering jobs, to shape the Internet of Things, in which commercial vehicles and logistics play a key role, and to re-invent transport – through autonomous driving. In all this, we will continue our pioneering work and move forward with determination – which will include dialog with policy-makers.” Dr. Bernhard mentioned long trucks as an important component in sustainable road freight traffic: “They could also be called that because the list of their benefits is so long. Long trucks decrease diesel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 25 percent, and they reduce traffic density and the burdens on the infrastructure. The name is the message: long trucks are only longer, not heavier. Dr. Bernhard believes that autonomous driving will be especially relevant for the transport of the future: “Trucks are predestined for autonomous driving: while passenger cars cover an average of almost 12,000 kilometers per year, long-distance freight trucks cover an average of 130,000 kilometers. So the advantages of autonomous driving really show in the case of trucks: the technology makes traffic safer, upgrades the driver’s workplace, and brings down both CO2 emissions and operating costs. We have already demonstrated where this journey is heading. Now politicians have to provide the necessary framework. In Germany, where passenger cars and trucks first took to the roads, the next generation of cars and trucks must be launched here, too. The policy-makers must make this their aim. Competition between locations is tough, especially in the digital age.”
Andreas Renschler, Volkswagen AG
Andreas Renschler, member of the Board of Management at Volkswagen AG with responsibility for Commercial Vehicles, stressed in his lecture the importance of road freight traffic as a lifeline for a modern and open society based on the division of labor: “Commercial vehicles are the backbone of the economy and our prosperity – without them world trade would come to a standstill.” And the topic of CO2 reduction had been right at the top of the agenda not just starting today, he said. “For purely economic reasons our customers demand the lowest possible consumption and thus the lowest possible emissions – therefore we are doing everything we can on a daily basis to supply the corresponding vehicles. Not for nothing have we brought down the fuel consumption of a heavy truck per ton-kilometer by around 60 percent over the last 50 years,” Renschler added.
The European commercial vehicle manufacturers had presented their “Vision 20-20” in 2008, which envisaged new, fuel-efficient trucks reducing consumption by 20 percent by 2020 as compared with the reference year 2005. Renschler continued, “We have taken this target very seriously and today we have already got more than half way there. Last year we even went a step further with the ‘integrated approach’: if all those involved in transportation pull together, we will achieve very much greater fuel savings. If everyone takes their responsibility for action on climate seriously and we look beyond our own horizons of pure vehicle physics, we can exceed our very ambitious target for 2020 by a long way.” To reach this target, he added, not only the vehicle makers but also politicians, suppliers, energy utilities and transport companies had a duty to work together to bring down CO2 emissions in the European transport sector.
Dr. Hansjörg Rodi, Schenker Deutschland AG
Dr. Hansjörg Rodi, Chairman of the Board of Schenker Deutschland AG, underscored, “The digital revolution now encompasses all sections of society and business. This offers us enormous opportunities: by using modern technology, we can improve the connectivity of ecosystems from manufacturers to customers and make the transport chain more transparent and efficient. But the change begins in people’s minds. The prerequisite for the breakthrough to Logistics 4.0 is a willingness to cooperate on the part of all stakeholders in the process. As to the cooperation between the commercial vehicle industry and the logistical service providers, we are well on the way.”
Ulrich Schöpker, Schmitz Cargobull AG
Ulrich Schöpker, Board Member at Schmitz Cargobull AG, regards the combination of truck and trailer as one transport unit. On this basis, he said, the trailer industry was developing innovative concepts that offer the driver, the hauler and the logistics provider more availability and sustainability in transport. Road users also benefit due to improved safety. Schöpker said, “Coordinating all the features in trucks and trailers enables us to achieve another increase in efficiency and thus greatly reduce our use of resources.” He went on to explain that this would also improve the aerodynamics of the coordinated truck-trailer unit, with much bigger potential savings than from individual measures of each manufacturer. “But also a simple item such as tire pressure that is adapted to the driving and loading situation, and automatically regulated, is an important factor for bringing about even lower fuel consumption and less tire wear,” Schöpker said. The trailer manufacturers are therefore developing electronic systems with the appropriate interfaces to trucks, and also to logistics providers.
Schöpker emphasized, “The ever greater individualization of products, and the use of production facilities in various geographical locations, will require intelligent trucks and trailers. Together they make an important contribution in a world characterized by the division of labor, with the concomitant volume of transport.” Commercial vehicles would therefore also remain irreplaceable in the long term. Schöpker explained that it was precisely their great flexibility that made it possible to organize multimodal transports and thus to integrate additional modes of transport into efficient transport chains. “We see the combination of all means of transport as a great opportunity to make our joint contribution to modern mobility,” he said.