ACEA Transport Policy Event 2013: Keynote speech by Wolfgang Bernhard

Mr Wolfgang Bernhard gives an overview of the achievements, challenges and opportunities that the commercial vehicle industry faces in Europe.

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Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen!

As you know, the road freight transport industry is on the eve of introducing the new Euro VI emissions standard.

So, this is a perfect occasion to do three things:

First, to look back on what we have achieved;
Second, to talk about the direction future transportation will take;
and third, to discuss what the transport industry and policy makers have to do to get there.

Looking back, the bottom line is this: the truck industry has done its job. Trucks on European roads today are safer, cleaner and more fuel efficient than ever.

Let’s take a closer look at our record – and start with active safety. Our technological progress is really impressive – you will see what I mean in a movie later this day. Thanks to new braking systems, trucks have nearly the same stopping distance as passenger cars. 
Given the pure physics involved, this is an amazing accomplishment!

It’s also a real success story for joint efforts of EU policy makers and our industry: together we have set the right priorities for the development, commercialization and market penetration of active safety systems.

This collaborative effort clearly has paid off: while transport performance in Europe has grown by 15 percent since 2000, the number of truck accidents with fatalities decreased by 60 percent.  No doubt: With the regulatory roadmap for safety we’ve agreed on, this development will continue, thanks to:

the ongoing implementation of Electronic Stability Control; the introduction of Lane Departure Warning Systems along with the first phase of Automated Emergency Braking Systems in 2015; the second phase of these Braking Systems that follows in 2018; and the requirements for new cabin strength that go into effect in 2020.

With many of these safety technologies and related policies, we set a benchmark for the world: 
– Japan just initiated the legislative procedure for Automated Emergency Braking Systems;
– the US did not set an introduction date for this technology until recently;
– and China has no safety regulations at all.

In the meantime, here in Europe, we’re already working hard on technologies beyond 2020. 
Those include, for example, pedestrian detection and a turning assistant, which will help the driver to discover blind spots when turning left or right.

Trucks in Europe are not only safer, but also cleaner – and at the same time, more fuel efficient. Let me give you some numbers to back that up: since 1990, we continuously reduced nitrogen oxide by more than 97 percent and particulate emissions of European commercial vehicles by more than 99 percent. With Euro VI, emissions will be so minimal they’re actually hard to measure. Hence, we strongly believe that a further tightening of limits beyond Euro VI is not necessary – or better said: not effective.

This is not only true from a technological, but also from an economic point of view: in the past, many new regulations have led to market distortions. The reason is quite obvious: shipping companies are very price sensitive – even slight increases change buying behaviour.
As a consequence, both our sector and the environment suffer.

Right now, we’re getting to that point yet again: our industry is facing high demand due to pre-buy effects of Euro V vehicles. Next year, many of us will probably struggle with the opposite problem – at least through the first six months. Still, the truck industry did what it was asked to: with Euro VI, emissions are reduced significantly.

This is true as well for another, even bigger arena: CO2. In fact, European manufacturers are world leaders in fuel efficiency: a modern long-haul truck today is over 30 percent more fuel-efficient than 30 years ago. And recent studies in Germany have shown: while transport mileage nearly doubled over the last ten years, total CO2 emissions of road transport have remained constant. You can assume a similar trend for Europe.

This is by no means the end of the story: ACEA truck manufacturers have committed to a 
20 percent fuel reduction in the period from 2005 to 2020. We’re making good progress towards that target. But we also know: Due to diminishing returns, further progress will be even more difficult to achieve.

This brings me to my second talking point: the direction future transportation will take. 
It is beyond debate that the transport industry will remain a key industry for Europe. Simply put: transportation drives economic prosperity and jobs. This is especially true for the commercial vehicle industry: trucks and vans deliver the goods and services we take for granted in our daily lives. In fact, they carry the lion’s share – about 90 percent – of the value of all goods in Europe. Statistically, every single day trucks deliver about 35 million tons of consumer as well as industrial goods.

Trucks and vans are also among the cleanest and most efficient modes of transportation, especially here in Europe: taking payload and average fuel consumption into account, we have the lowest CO2 emissions of all major regions:

Japan has an average of 43 CO2 grams per ton-kilometre; the U.S. average is 41; China is 36; while Europe is just 32.

In addition to delivering freight, our industry also delivers jobs: a total of more than  3.6 million people in Europe manufacture or sell commercial vehicles; or work as suppliers, drivers or haulers. Ultimately, nearly every industrial job depends on road transportation.

Can you imagine an economy without in- and outbound logistics? It would simply be impossible to manage today’s value chains without point-to-point transportation that can be delivered “just in time.” I think my point is clear: everybody wants free movement of goods. Everybody wants his steak, his furniture – his Christmas presents. Everybody wants a safe job and a thriving economy. So, the truck industry is not a problem, but an enabler for growth and prosperity. But not everybody out there agrees with that conclusion. To some, rail transport is the sole solution for future transportation. And in that respect, I respectfully disagree. Don’t get me wrong. I have no objections against rail transport. To the contrary: I think it’s an important transport mode to tackle our growing freight volumes. But rail traffic cannot shoulder it all.

That’s not a value statement of any kind. It’s simply reality: rail transport lacks the capacity: Every year, Europe’s rail would have to increase its transport capacity by 20 percent only to cover the additional transport volume of land transport in Europe. And even if we could manage to improve rail infrastructure significantly, it would still be insufficient in terms of speed: the average international freight train in Europe runs at 18 km/h – whereas a long-distance truck averages 75 km/h. As time is the second currency in our society, this is a significant cost. Plus: Recent studies show that on shorter distances, up to for example 200 km, a truck has also an advantage over trains in terms of CO2 emissions. 

So, substituting road freight with rail by law does not make much sense from an economic as well as from an environmental point of view. What does make sense is to strike an optimum balance. We need to integrate all means of transport – each with their particular strengths. 
So let’s discuss how we get there together – free of ideology, free of bias and free of prejudice. Let’s evaluate every possible solution based on its efficiency and facts – not on beliefs.

The same goes for CO2 reduction in the CV market. Some say: there’s a clear limit for passenger cars, why not have the same for commercial vehicles? Our answer is that there are two important differences between these markets:

First: In the commercial vehicle market, customers have always demanded the lowest possible total cost of ownership. Just a one or two percent drop in fuel consumption provides a major incentive in the purchasing decision of carriers. In other words: contrary to buyers of passenger cars, truck customers calculate and decide based on hard facts. What they need is to be best informed for their calculations, so: 
Let’s give our customers full transparency on fuel efficiency and let them decide. They will be the best regulators for fuel-efficiency.

The second difference between trucks and passenger cars is the high variety of commercial vehicles – due to nearly infinite combinations of motors, axles, cabins, trailers etc. 
Think about it: There are a few hundred shapes and sizes of passenger cars out there – while trucks have several thousand – they’re virtually uncountable.

So, regulation through limits is sub-optimal at best and virtually impossible at worst. The truck market’s complexity can hardly be reflected in any legislation. Instead, we should put our focus on a more stable foundation, that is: the development of measuring methods that cover the wide variety in vehicles and missions.

By developing a computer simulation based on real-world data, the Commission has already laid a solid foundation to do just that. Basically, the system can calculate the specific emissions data for each individual truck configuration. This value will be very close to reality. 
Our industry fully supports the development of this method, as it will improve the real-life declaration of fuel consumption in truck industry, and thus help our customers to reduce their costs.

But to get the whole picture, the declaration efforts have to be focused on the complete truck, which means: different trailers and bodies – not just on the tractor or engine. Otherwise we lose out on significant optimization potential: while it’s quite difficult to get another percentage point out of the tractor, it’s fairly easy to get 5 to 7 percent out of what’s behind it,
for example the trailer.

That’s why we need the whole picture, not its single parts: implement this full vehicle simulation; declare the value of all substantial truck configurations – and I have complete confidence that the market will do the rest of the work.

The most successful products will be the best for the environment, the economy, and the customer.

On top of that, the European truck industry and its policy makers could draw another blueprint for the world with this simulation: We can pave the way to harmonized CO2 measurement for trucks on a global base. Still, we have to face the fact I mentioned before: additional gains in fuel efficiency will be more and more difficult to achieve. And the truck industry cannot address all of the emissions-related concerns alone. That is why we support the idea of an integrated approach – my third and last point for today.

To make it clear: This is not about “finger-pointing” or shirking responsibility. The opposite: The commercial vehicle industry will do its share to shape the future of road freight transport. But political leaders, the oil industry, the haulers, operators and, last but not least, the drivers themselves, must also do their part. In other words: If we really want to move the needle, we need do more than just squeeze the last percent out of the tractor. We have to look at those parameters where we can realize major efficiency gains. The measures I’m thinking of here include:

Improvement of the transportation infrastructure:
One stop per kilometre, for example in stop-and-go traffic, increases the fuel consumption by 50 percent. In other words: Even the cleanest truck will not help the environment if it idles in traffic jams. 
Truck operators can still work on the ideal set-up of their trucks: from keeping the right tire pressure to optimized loading.

These measures can easily result in CO2 reductions of up to 5 percent.

Driver training: An anticipatory driving style can reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption by around 10 percent.
In this respect, telematics systems can also have significant impact. 

Let’s also rethink weight and dimensions of truck schemes:

Increase the permissible gross vehicle weight of trucks by only 4 tons, and CO2 emissions can be cut by 2 percent.
Increase the permissible length of truck combinations and reduce consumption and emissions of a 40 ton truck by up to 30 percent. This happens in Scandinavia every day!
And last, but not least: clean fuels. The second generation of biodiesel would significantly improve CO2 emissions per liter diesel – up to 80 percent.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am convinced: such an integrated approach will support both Europe’s economy and environment. 

To get there, we’re open to every constructive dialogue.

We’re ready to broaden the range of thoughts, ready to widen the perspective.

So, let’s approach it as we always did: with coordination, cooperation and healthy compromise.

You can count on the truck industry to be a good partner in this process.

Thank you.

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