“Long truck” is a designation used for all vehicles and truck-trailer combinations which consist of a tractor unit with either a body or a semi-trailer, plus another trailer. The vehicles are not heavier than conventional trucks. A long truck can have a total length of up to 25.25 m with a maximum permissible weight of 40 tonnes. A maximum weight of 44 tonnes is allowed in the initial and final legs of combined transport.
Advantages of long trucks
In around 80 percent of transports the limiting factor is not the weight, but the loading volume. Therefore the same maximum weight limit of 40 tonnes applies to long trucks as to standard trucks.
A long truck with a maximum total weight of 40 tonnes is less damaging to the road infrastructure than a standard truck, since the weight is distributed over more axles. A standard truck has five axles, but a long truck has six to eight axles – which means that the axle load remains a long way below the permissible limit and the long truck has a better overall axle load distribution.
Innovative commercial vehicles such as long trucks make a major contribution to raising efficiency in road freight traffic and the transport chains. This is because they can transport the same quantity of freight with fewer journeys and lower fuel consumption, and therefore lower emissions. Deploying long trucks can bring about fuel savings of around 25 percent (per tonne of goods transported, or per transportation unit, e.g. a pallet). CO2 emissions fall in proportion to fuel consumption. Reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions – that is one of the most important reasons for using longer trucks on the roads.
Long trucks are not only just as safe as conventional combinations, they go one step further: the long vehicle combinations have to be equipped with the most up-to-date safety systems available. These include the lane-keeping assistant that prevents the vehicle from drifting out of its lane, the proximity control that avoids rear-end collisions, plus ESP, ABS and acceleration skid control (ASR). Then there are also reflective contour markings, spray suppression and load-securing systems. To make maneuvering even safer as well, long trucks are required to have reversing cameras. Practical experience with long trucks in the field trial shows that they travel smoothly and stably on the roads and are not especially noticeable in road traffic.
Good braking performance
A long truck 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, but the brake force acts on more axles.
Safe to overtake
Long trucks are deployed almost exclusively on the freeways. Other vehicles can overtake them there just as easily as when overtaking conventional trucks.
The drivers are professionals
The drivers of long trucks have proved their skill and professionalism. They must be able to show that they have several years of driving experience.
Deployment of long trucks has even more positive effects:
- Fewer journeys have to be made. Long trucks can transport a greater volume of goods per journey than conventional trucks can, i.e. wherever three conventional trucks were needed in the past, two long trucks can now do the same job.
- Long trucks can operate in the existing infrastructure. They run on a defined road network that is specially approved for them and which very largely consists of freeways, their feeder and exit roads, and some federal roads.
- Railways and long trucks: efficiently networked. Long trucks transport light, large-volume freight that is already carried by road – not by rail.
- The potentials of long trucks should also be utilized to mitigate the growing shortage of truck drivers.
What people say about long trucks
Fifty companies are currently deploying 135 long trucks on the roads. All their experience with these vehicles has been positive. First, a long truck consumes less fuel, and second, it has less impact on the roads because the load per axle is reduced.
President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry
“The field trial shows that long trucks are safe, are good for the roads and the environment, and reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. CO2 output per tonne transported is reduced by up to 25 percent. This means that long trucks are real eco trucks. Long trucks can thus help meet transport demands with fewer journeys. Freight traffic has in fact been increasing for many years, both on rail and on the roads – a direct result of our growing prosperity. Long trucks therefore do not lead to more traffic, but help in coping better with the rising quantity of freight traffic.”
Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard
Member of the Board of Management at Daimler AG and
Head of Daimler Trucks & Buses
“Long trucks represent a huge opportunity to bring ecology and economy into harmony with each other. They have less impact both on the climate and on the infrastructure, because two journeys with long trucks replace three with conventional trucks. This saves up to 25 percent of CO2 and diesel. At Daimler we are also using long trucks for our own logistical operations; they already reduce our diesel consumption by around 270,000 liters per year and CO2 emissions by a good 800 tonnes. The long trucks produce this result on only twelve routes – at present we cannot yet use them on a wider scale. So the potentials are there for all to see – we only have to exploit them! Those who are really serious about the climate goals will have to introduce long trucks. The German states that have not yet taken part in the Government’s field trial, or have only been partially involved, have to give up their blocking attitude. The field trial shows that worries about safety are unnecessary while expectations concerning CO2 efficiency have clearly been confirmed.”
Member of the Board of Management at Volkswagen AG for Commercial Vehicles, CEO of Volkswagen Truck & Bus GmbH
“The interim report submitted by the Federal Highway Research Institute on the field trial for long trucks not only shows that the vehicles are safe, are better for the infrastructure, and operate economically in road traffic. It also impressively demonstrates that their deployment can make a tangible reduction in CO2 emissions and the worries about shifts from other modes of transport, which we have heard so much about, are unfounded. Long trucks do not represent a threat to the railways: They are most suitable for large-volume goods and conventional general cargo – types of freight that are not especially suitable for transport by rail. So there are many arguments in favor of long trucks. The time is absolutely right for long trucks if you are really serious about action on climate.”
Board Member of Schmitz Cargobull AG, Trailers and Bodies
“The modular long truck measuring 25.25 m in length stands for the sustainable use of ever scarcer resources. Existing vehicles from today’s combinations of 16.50 m or 18.75 m will continue to be used in long trucks. It is precisely these trucks that can be deployed without any problem in multimodal transport with the other modes of transport – railways and waterways. The technology is mature with proven performance. Long trucks are the most effective means for decreasing energy consumption, markedly reduce emissions, drastically cut down the burdens on transport areas, and relieve stress on drivers by means of new driver assistance systems. This all makes these 25.25-meter transport solutions much more efficient – and they are already available! So in the future we can continue making both an economic and an ecological contribution to modern, connected worldwide logistics.”
Managing Director, Elflein Spedition & Transport GmbH
“Sustainability and innovation are key elements in Elflein’s corporate policy. This includes the use of long trucks and Elflein’s specially optimized version with a reduced number of axles. This improves CO2 values both for our customers and for our company. Two long trucks transport the same volume as three conventional semi-trailer vehicles. So not only is CO2 output reduced by up to 25%, but traffic-related burdens and road damage are also brought down. Now we are using 25 vehicle combinations covering a total distance of 5,000,000 kilometers. The increasing number of vehicles is a clear demonstration of acceptance by our customers. In the public sphere, too, the vehicles are seen as positive – if people notice any difference from standard trucks at all.”