„Drivers“ of climate change

30. September 2017
Text: Britta Bauchmüller
Illustrations: Ole Häntzschel

By 2050, freight transport should be largely carbon neutral. While commercial vehicles are becoming more and more economical, the number of trucks on European roads is growing.

Environmental associations are demanding fuel efficiency standards for truck fleets, but official consumption values don’t have to be indicated until 2019. The competition to develop the most economical truck is intensifying. MAN and Scania, the two truck manufacturers of the Volkswagen Group, are working on innovative concepts for the future of freight transport.


Since June 2016, Scania and Siemens have been jointly testing a system to supply electrified hybrid trucks with power through overhead contact lines. On a motorway in Sweden, they’ve built a two-kilometer test track. Scania’s Euro 6 hybrid trucks are equipped with pantographs that can connect to a power line once it is detected by scanners. Starting in 2019, the Federal Environment Ministry intends to test overhead power lines in Germany, as well.


In collaboration with DB Schenker, MAN is working to develop connected and automated truck convoys. In 2018, the two companies plan to conduct truck platooning trials on the A9 autobahn between Munich and Nuremberg. Platooning is when two or more trucks drive in a line with only a short following distance between them. The driver of the first truck sets the speed and direction, and the other trucks are controlled automatically by means of driving assistance systems and car-to-car communication. The electronic coupling of the vehicles in the platoon ensures their road safety, and each following vehicle is actively monitored by a driver. Since the following trucks are exposed to less wind resistance, they consume less fuel and emit less CO2.


In collaboration with the Swedish cooperative Lantmännen, Scania intends to create a market for trucks that run on bioethanol made from surplus wheat, which generates 90 percent less CO2 emissions than conventional diesel fuel. Since the fall of 2016, Scania has supplied the Arla dairy corporation with a total of 23 ethanol-powered trucks. Arla is using the new Euro 6 trucks in its daily business in the Stockholm and Uppsala region. Lantmännen is providing the infrastructure and the bioethanol.


In August 2017, MAN introduced the first electrically powered trucks for inner-city deliveries. At the end of 2017, the electric trucks will be delivered to the Council for Sustainable Logistics, an association comprised of 15 of the largest companies in Austria. Starting in 2020, they intend to increase the use of electric vehicles in urban distribution transport and will be testing the electric trucks in daily use. In 2021, the e-trucks will go into series production.

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