VDA’s Board Group Commercial Vehicles meets presidents of BGL, BWVL and DSLV
Representatives of the German commercial vehicle industry and the German transport business met in Berlin today to discuss future-related topics in road freight traffic. The meeting was attended by board members from the commercial vehicle companies in the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), and the presidents and managing directors of the associations BGL (the German freight transport association), the BWVL (the transport operators’ association) and the DSLV (German Freight Forwarders and Logistics Operators). The main topics of discussion included the urgently needed expansion of the digital infrastructure in Germany and Europe, reducing CO2 from road freight traffic, the deployment of long trucks, the ongoing development of the truck toll and infrastructure policy in Germany. The associations jointly call on policy-makers to ensure that the digital infrastructure in Germany is extended rapidly and sustainably. Digitization and connectivity harbor huge opportunities, especially for road freight traffic, and they should be exploited.
The following statements reflect the results of the joint discussion.
Matthias Wissmann: Diesel essential for heavy commercial vehicles and buses
VDA President Matthias Wissmann stressed the traditionally close alliance between the commercial vehicle industry and the haulage sector, and underscored the huge efforts being made by the companies to achieve even greater efficiency and environmental compatibility in road freight traffic. Wissmann commented on the discussion of diesel technology and its importance to heavy commercial vehicles: “Modern diesels satisfying Euro VI have excellent exhaust values and their CO2 efficiency makes them real ‘friends of the climate.’ This applies to trucks and buses just as much as to passenger cars. The unacceptable events at one vehicle manufacturer are therefore not a reason to put all diesels under a general suspicion.
“Here we should remember that diesel engines have been manipulated in passenger cars from a single manufacturer – so there is absolutely no foundation for transferring this debate to the diesel drivetrain in trucks or buses. This applies all the more because with heavy commercial vehicles the continuous monitoring of pollutant emissions in real-life operation has already been prescribed for years. The remaining pollutants and particulate emissions are now practically on the detection threshold, thanks to the enormous efforts of the industry. We therefore resist attempts at EU level to alter fuel taxation putting diesel at a disadvantage. A marked hike in the tax on diesel would jeopardize achievement of the EU’s climate goals. Since diesels are also indispensable to road freight traffic in the medium term, transport costs would rise sharply – with considerable negative consequences for the economy and employment throughout Europe.”
Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard: Concerted efforts to promote CO2 reduction in road freight traffic
Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, member of the Board of Management at Daimler and chairman of the VDA’s Board Group Commercial Vehicles, talked about the options for further CO2 reductions in road freight traffic: “The European commercial vehicle manufacturers have already achieved a very great deal: consumption per ton-kilometer has fallen by around 60 percent since 1965. If we want to bring down consumption in road freight traffic even further in the future, we must not work solely on the engine, but concentrate all our energy to include tires, semitrailers and other important components. Just recently a practical test showed that today it is already possible to reduce diesel consumption by up to 14 percent using a fully optimized truck. The additional procurement costs of these components should be taken into consideration in the planned program to promote energy-efficient trucks. This can create effective incentives to deploy the technologies for reducing consumption, which are already available today. In order to achieve the EU’s ambitious CO2 targets, we will also have to think further than that. What is needed is an integrated approach involving all the stakeholders in road freight traffic: commercial vehicle manufacturers, the trailer and body industry, tire producers, logistics firms, dispatchers and the politicians. We made good progress in our discussions today.”
Adalbert Wandt: Promote ecologically efficient solutions in road freight traffic
BGL president Adalbert Wandt spoke in favor of promoting ecologically efficient solutions in road freight traffic. He explained that a bridge was required between measures that were ecologically necessary and those that were economically necessary. When it came to the internalization of external costs, as planned by European policy-makers, attention would be needed to ensure that the individual measures did not burden certain areas of logistic applications. Wandt added that it was equally important to use ecological steering instruments in freight traffic in a manner that did not affect competition or disadvantage individual user segments. In the case of development of the truck toll, it had to be ensured that the burden on the transport business was no greater on national roads than it was on freeways. Furthermore, ecological efficiency must not be lost from sight with alternative drivetrain and fuel concepts. In many cases electric mobility, hybrid engines and renewable and synthetically produced fuels for freight traffic would have to make a quantum jump in terms of CO2 avoidance costs and the associated environmental benefit in order to achieve a reasonable cost-benefit ratio.
Jochen Quick: Modern traffic infrastructure needed for growth and employment
BWVL president Jochen Quick addressed the topic of the traffic infrastructure in Germany: “Together we have emphasized the central importance of a powerful, modern traffic infrastructure for growth and employment, and the competitiveness of Germany as a business location. The associations and companies explicitly welcome the decisions of the German Government for provision of additional funding for maintaining and expanding the infrastructure, amounting to around 11 billion euro up to 2018, which will enable investments to be ramped up and consolidated.
“Large-scale funding for investment must, however, be closely tied to new structures for a more efficient use of funds, for example through a trunk road company with nationwide responsibility for the construction, maintenance and operation of at least the freeways. Furthermore, projects in the future Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan require clear prioritization based on the performance capability of the whole supra-regional network and the greatest possible benefit to the national economy. However, for a future-oriented transport infrastructure, a powerful digital infrastructure is also absolutely essential. Here, too, expansion must be driven forward. This is the only way to take account of new mobility concepts, connected traffic management and innovative communication between commercial vehicles, the road and other road users.”
Mathias Krage: Long trucks have great potential for the future
DSLV president Mathias Krage stressed the huge importance of a modern and sustainably financed transport infrastructure that could be planned, built and maintained more effectively than before by means of more centralized structures. At the same time, he drew attention to the key role that will be played by innovative commercial vehicles in the future. Long trucks in particular had great potential for the future, he said, adding: “The volume of freight traffic in Germany and Europe will expand strongly again during the coming years. Long trucks will function as a powerful link in logistics chains, coping with the increasing amount of freight on the roads. The performance of long trucks will be exploited not only in long-distance road transport, but also – under certain defined conditions – as components of combined transport.” Krage went on to say that fears about shifts from one mode of transport to another were totally unfounded: “Long trucks will not threaten the railways. They are most appropriate for large-volume goods and conventional general cargo, that is, for types of goods that are not especially suitable for rail.” The results to date from the field trial showed economic and ecological advantages. Krage said, “The use of long trucks in regular operations means up to one quarter less fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. At the same time, they do not damage the roads as much as conventional trucks, because their total weight is distributed over more axles. Long trucks are equipped with the most modern safety and assistance systems and are among the safest vehicles.” Krage concluded, “There are so many arguments for long trucks that they will be deployed right across the country.”