The heavy-duty distribution trucking industry in any nation ships tons and tons of goods all over the country, and uses quite a bit of fuel to do it. The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) is setting its sights on these commercial trucks, promising hybrid-electric power trains and increased aerodynamic efficiency in the near future.
In light of increased traffic volume (the German federal government calculated a 70% increase by 2025 back in 2005, and they don’t appear to be wrong), future generations of commercial vehicles must become more economically and ecologically efficient. While modern trucks already meet strict environmental standards, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions must decrease by another 20% (also from 2005 levels) to continue to meet those standards, according to the VDA’s Deputy Managing Director, Dr. Kay Lindemann.
Trucks are already pretty efficient, Lindeman points out: “A long-distance truck weighs 40 tons, about as much as 30 mid-sized cars, but only uses as much as five cars – about thirty liters [approximately 8 gallons]. Per ton, that’s less than a liter of diesel per kilometer [2.35mpg per ton].”
How Trucks Can Be Improved
Lindemann considers hybrid-electric drives one of the methods to reach those goals, as well as improved aerodynamics, with better inner-city air quality as one of many benefits.
Aerodynamics, in particular, is a tricky subject. It’s very difficult to improve air flow over a trailer without reducing its loading capacity. The higher the capacity, the fewer trips the truck must take – and the fewer trips the truck makes, the cheaper it is to operate. Reducing capacity is then unthinkable. Vehicle designers have their work cut out for them!
Batteries are another way to reduce fuel consumption. Lindemann believes that in the near future not only hybrid vehicles but also battery electric vehicles will be widely used for inner city traffic over short distances. To this end, the German federal government has declared its intention to recommend the production of 50,000 commercial electric vehicles. When? We don’t know, but hopefully sooner rather than later.
What do you think of hybrid trucks for long-distance transportation? Feasible or a publicity stunt? Let us know in the comments, below.