The European Commission wishes to clear the way for aerodynamic trucks. To this end, today it presented a draft Directive that would permit new dimensions for trucks. In addition, long freight trucks are to be allowed to cross borders. Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) gave this response: “This Commission proposal opens the doors to even more climate-friendly road freight traffic for the future. The changes to truck dimensions and weights mean that Brussels is preparing the way for trucks with optimised aerodynamics and greater energy efficiency.”
In long-distance truck traffic, a large proportion of the fuel consumed goes on overcoming air resistance. Improved aerodynamics can bring about substantial fuel savings. Wissmann welcomed these proposals as a “holistic approach for enhancing efficiency and sustainability in road freight transport. New legislation is the basis on which the industry can build the trucks of the future.” To make trucks more streamlined, the Commission is backing measures such as approving truck trailers that are up to 2 metres longer. For example, aerodynamic rear flaps could be mounted that improve the air flow over the entire combination. However, Wissmann also pointed out that the conditions for an aerodynamic extension of truck length would have to be worked out in detail in a way that was appropriate and workable in actual practice. And the manufacturers’ development cycles should also be taken into consideration.
The Commission wishes to increase the maximum weight for trucks with alternative drive trains. Wissmann said, “In the future at least some trucks and buses will also have hybrid or electric drive trains.” The new drive trains will, however, frequently make the vehicles heavier than conventional trucks. The Commission wishes to take account of this and allow up to 1 tonne of extra weight for vehicles with hybrid or electric propulsion. “That is an important precondition for alternative drive trains being used in commercial vehicles too, and without reducing the payload. The proposal should be neutral with respect to the technology used, so that all alternative drive trains and fuels are given full consideration,” the VDA president said.
Wissmann also welcomed the decision to use long trucks for cross-border freight in the EU: “That is a pragmatic step for making freight traffic in Europe even more economical. The cross-border use of long trucks will contribute to further fuel savings.” The VDA president also stressed, “Long trucks have turned out to be genuine eco-trucks. They can make a major contribution to the necessary improvements in efficiency in road freight.” The experience from the field trial in Germany was all positive, he added. So far the vehicles have been operating safely in road traffic, without accidents. Forwarders reported fuel savings of up to 30 per cent. “Long trucks disproved the arguments of their critics in actual practice a long time ago,” Wissmann said.