“In the future commercial vehicles will become even more efficient. The commercial vehicle industry is making a key contribution to mastering the coming growth in freight transport in a sustainable manner,” said Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), at the Association’s Commercial Vehicle Symposium 2013 in Berlin. He explained that today a 40-tonne long-distance truck consumes on average only around 30 litres of fuel or less to cover 100 kilometres. “In the last three to four decades, commercial vehicles have almost doubled their transport efficiency on the roads. Innovations in aerodynamics and the long truck will reduce the CO2 output from our commercial vehicles even further in the future. New materials, consistent weight optimisation and even more efficient diesel engines will bring additional progress,” Wissmann stressed.
For further reductions in the fuel consumption of heavy commercial vehicles, Wissmann called for a “policy with a good deal of moderation and sober calculation.” He added, “We are up against tough international competition and at the same time are faced with growing tensions due to regulations. Directives, laws and regulations must therefore take account of the reality on the markets even more than before. They must be co-properly ordinated.” New noise limit values, lower fuel consumption, lower pollutant emissions – the industry will continue optimising all of these aspects. “But you can’t outsmart physics. Simultaneously issuing new regulations everywhere – which possibly also contradict one another – will not lead to the mobility, the freight traffic or the commercial vehicles of tomorrow,” Wissmann stated, adding that instead clear priorities had to be set.
The new Euro VI exhaust standard, he said, had now brought down the classical pollutant and particulate emissions to an absolute minimum. Euro VI comes into effect on 1 January 2014 and will apply to all new trucks. The standard sets limit values for the emissions of particulates, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. “Euro VI makes the exhaust practically clean. A separate toll class for Euro VI vehicles would therefore make economic and environmental sense, so that the vehicles will be deployed as quickly as possible. We are hoping that a decision on this will follow soon after the German parliamentary election in the autumn,” Wissmann said.
Dr Wolfgang Bernhard, Daimler AG
Dr Wolfgang Bernhard, chairman of the VDA’s Board Group Commercial Vehicles and member of the Management Board at Daimler AG responsible for Daimler Trucks and Daimler Buses, regards a co-ordinated approach by industry and politicians as essential to maintaining Europe’s pioneering role in the commercial vehicle sector in the future. “We must work together to ensure that different legal objectives to not block one another,” Bernhard said. To save as much CO2 as possible, he continued, it was important that future approaches concentrate on feasible and above all on economically practicable solutions. “This is because we all know that our customers will not buy things that do not pay off, in which case they will be no help to the environment,” Bernhard said. He added that the two partners had to be able to rely on each other. “This is the only way to ultimately ensure the best result for everyone: for our customers, for us as manufacturers, and for society as a whole.”
Dr Leif Östling, Volkswagen AG
Dr Leif Östling, member of the Board of Management at Volkswagen AG with responsibility for ‘Group Commercial Vehicles,’ stressed in his lecture that a modern economy based on the division of labour, which brings income and prosperity, would be inconceivable without an efficient road transport system. “That applies to Germany, Europe, and also increasingly in a world-wide context, and thus to tomorrow’s global markets. In terms of energy consumption, CO2 emissions and environmental footprint, future road freight traffic and its commercial vehicles would be nothing like comparable with today’s technologies and forms of organisation,” Östling explained.
“The road haulage business, the commercial vehicle industry and their customers have a huge potential for innovation, as has been shown in the past,” Östling continued. The manufacturers’ spirit of invention and ability to innovate in the field of commercial vehicles were nowhere near exhausted. Östling was convinced “that an energy-efficient and resource-conserving form of freight traffic could be on the roads long before the end of the fossil fuel era – and networked with all modes of transport.” With a view to the EU’s efforts at regulation, Östling emphasised: “Transport efficiency, and with it environmental and climate conservation, emerge from fair competition. It is the customers who decide, not state control. Therefore the most effective law on climate action is the law of the market. Our customers expect minimum consumption accompanied by minimum emissions. For this reason we are doing everything to deliver appropriate commercial vehicles – for Germany, Europe and the whole world.”
Dr Jos Delbeke, DG Climate Action, European Commission
Jos Delbeke, the European Commission’s Director General for Climate Action, drew attention to the Commission’s target of reducing traffic emissions by 60 per cent compared to 1990 levels by 2050. “The European CO2 Regulation for new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles has proved to be effective and has brought about reductions in vehicles’ fuel consumption and emissions. The situation with heavy commercial vehicles is however very different,” Delbeke said. The CO2 emissions from these vehicles were not being recorded. Yet the market for heavy commercial vehicles was rational and highly competitive, and the transport companies were striving for continual minimisation of fuel consumption and with it their operating costs. Nonetheless the European Commission was aiming to ensure more transparency in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
As early as 2010 the Commission had announced a strategy for dealing with CO2 emissions from heavy commercial vehicles. Delbeke continued, “This strategy is currently being finalised. We will propose concentrating initially on recording and monitoring emissions from heavy commercial vehicles. That will be possible with the good co-operation between the Commission and the industry in developing a new simulation tool for CO2 emissions from heavy commercial vehicles.” The Commission was backing “continuation of this excellent co-operation and intends the strategy announced to create a reliable framework facilitating entrepreneurial decisions and investment planning,” the Director General underlined.
Ulrich Schöpker, Schmitz Cargobull AG
Ecologically and economically efficient solutions were now also giving the German trailer industry a crucial competitive edge, explained Ulrich Schöpker, Chairman of the Management Board of Schmitz Cargobull AG and Vice-president of the VDA. Bringing down fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions, while simultaneously maintaining practical suitability, had also been the focus for a recently developed aerodynamic concept truck. “Here we have proved that aerodynamic flaps alone can decrease fuel consumption by up to 4.5 per cent.” Schöpker said that further consumption savings were possible with the reduced-weight steel-aluminium chassis, highly advanced smooth-running axles, systems for filling tyres to the correct pressures, and integrative telematics systems for trucks and trailers using common IT platforms. Concerning the field trial of long trucks Schöpker stressed: “We see another major contribution to sustainable reduction of emissions and impacts on the transport area in the long combination concept for long-distance freight transport. The burdens can be decreased by up to 30 per cent in all fields using vehicles that already exist. Furthermore, the haulage sector would become far more competitive because the vehicles can also be used in intermodal rail transport.”