The 63rd Truck Exhibition in Hannover with its theme “Efficient, Flexible and Future Proof’ showcased the impressive achievements commercial vehicle manufacturers and allied suppliers of hi-tech automotive equipment can claim in meeting ongoing fuel-efficiency and cleaner air standards.
After visiting the show, FleetWatch correspondent Max Braun came away convinced that South Africa’s reluctance to step up to the plate and finalise a cleaner fuels strategy is denying the country easy access to better fuel consumption and significantly reduced emissions. The bad news is that as the European mega-manufacturers look to the East for growth, South Africa is rapidly becoming past tense, still unable to say when it can participate in the real world of trucking.
The International Commercial Vehicle Show (IAA) held in Hannover, Germany every two years is, if not the largest commercial vehicle show in the world, probably the most influential and meaningful. The 2010 event housed 1 731 exhibits from 41 countries in 27 halls covering 224 100 m2 of which only 31 810 m2 was not under cover. With 760 German exhibitors, the show has an ever-increasing focus on the German industry. China, with 94 exhibits, is becoming ever more prominent. All in all, this is significant growth since I first visited this show in 1983 when 1 514 exhibitors filled only 16 halls.
In 1983 Bosch introduced the world to Electronic Diesel Engine Regulation (EDR) to optimise torque and power with expected fuel savings of 5% to 8% and improved average speeds. Technical improvements since then have seen giant leaps taken in pursuit of cleaner fuel and cleaner air. To ensure hard won gains are effectively and correctly applied, several radical steps are being taken by vehicle manufacturers to ensure trucking becomes and remains a lot more efficient and flexible than ever before.
The exhibition is organised by the Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA), the German equivalent of NAAMSA. In his opening address, VDA President, Mathias Wissmann, reminded the huge gathering of international journalists and industry captains that commercial vehicles are essential for the supply of our daily needs. He pointed out that trucks are the only viable transport mode for economical transport for small quantities over short distances with flexibility to deliver door-to-door and adaptability to suit customer specific transport needs.
Since 1990 when the Euro 1 concept was introduced and up to Euro 6 (mandatory in Europe from December 2013), vehicle manufacturers have achieved significant improvements in vehicle performance while reducing emissions and pollutants by up to 97%. Progress to date has involved complex and expensive technology and intense research, especially in terms of exhaust gas recycling and eliminating particles.
Fuel consumption for large vehicles has improved 33% since 1960 and commercial vehicles are now more eco-friendly than certain rail transport operations. Automotive engineers are confident that CO2 emissions and particles will be further reduced over the next few years.
On the role of trucking, the VDA recognises the need for all transport modes to interact with the objective of optimising the efficiency of intermodal transport. Transport experts in Germany believe commercial vehicles will continue to account for more than 70% of freight transport services well into the future. “With this in mind, transport policy makers should be aware that making road transport increasingly more expensive through the imposition of taxes and tolls will be borne by consumers. Such a policy will not be efficient or future proof,’ says the VDA.
Reduction in accidents
With innovation and creative thinking, commercial vehicle manufacturers have, in the last decade, also made a noteworthy contribution to the 50% reduction in accidents involving trucks on German roads, this especially so when considering a 40-ton truck covering 80 000 km a year covers six times the distance the average passenger car travels in a year in Germany. However, investment in infrastructure, like in most countries, has been lagging. This is seen in the amount of money invested in maintaining and building roads, access and ingress from motorways as well as parking space on motorways.
The German road transport industry believes the imposition of environmental tax on commercial vehicles is unrealistic with scant consideration of what has been achieved to date in terms of reducing negative environmental impacts. Current road user charges are almost double the actual cost of using the roads. Only road transport is taxed on an arbitrary basis to cover pollution and noise. In search of a better deal, road transport is pushing the German authorities to be more creative and innovative in its thinking.
Examples of this include:
A researched study suggests increasing maximum vehicle length to 25,25 metres bringing together transport modules currently in use. This would consolidate three vehicles into two, thereby improving the use of the road and fewer emissions. If adopted, the estimated reductions would be 2,2 million tons of fuel and seven million tons of CO2
The feeling is that ensuring the future of freight logistics cannot be the sole responsibility of vehicle manufacturers. Let’s face it: The most environmentally friendly technology is going nowhere if its success is negated by inadequate infrastructure development and congestion. This, as in so much of the above, is an object lesson for South and southern Africa.
The thumbnail synopsis that follows is just a fraction of the technical advancements exhibited in Hannover this year along with the growing adoption of green telematics as an essential part of environmentally green logistics. Some of the concerns mentioned above give a better understanding of the ‘˜Efficiency, Flexible and Future Proof’ theme that was chosen for the 2010 show.
Space does not allow a comprehensive report on what is either now or soon to be available to truckers and fleet owners regardless of size or location. The remainder of this brief report is a snap shot of what some major commercial vehicle manufacturers and others are doing to ensure the hard won successes in meeting the tough challenges to improve the air we breathe and make a meaningful contribution to a more efficient road transport industry wherever in the world where they are represented.
Successive press conferences confirmed truck builders are optimistic. CEOs all reported a return to profits and commencement of re-employment. Most welcome to hear is the considerable increase in orders for delivery this year and next. Most reported a 65% improvement and more when compared with the order book a year ago. But let’s now take a walk around a few of the stands.
The Scania exhibit was impressive in terms of the new model ranges spec’d for improved productivity and better transport efficiency. Using a variety of fuel blends and gas engines to minimise emissions provides several unique features for the heavyweight Swede truck builder. Scania also plans to become an active partner in the business of its users.
Designed and destined for heavy loads, long distance and difficult terrain. the new R730 4×2 topline truck-tractor with its 730 bhp V8 motor developing 3500 Nm at 1000 , 1350 r/min, is clearly the flagship of the comprehensive Scania range.
The new 8, 9 to 16, 4 litre engine range is available for operation with several fuel options including diesel, biodiesel, gas, biogas and ethanol. Operators can choose their preferred emission technology , EGR or SCR. Engine by engine, the range boasts the highest torque-to-power ratio on the market. These vehicles are also rated EEV (Enhanced, Environmentally Friendly Vehicles), placing their fuel consumption and emission levels somewhere between Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards. The entire engine range is modularised thereby sharing architecture, components, replacement parts, repairs and training of technicians.
The Scania Driver Support provides real-time driver feedback for drivers during driving. A new fleet management service complements the driver support via various sensors on the vehicle and the CAN-bus. While not interfering with the driver during a busy situation, it discreetly informs the driver how different events are handled. The system is designed to keep up skills learnt during training.
Data drawn from the CAN-bus includes indicating CO2 emissions in various ways , emails at agreed intervals, analysis package via a web portal, operator control over routes and tracing vehicles. The Driver support has focus on the key factors that influence safety and economy , traversing hills, anticipation, brake use and choosing gears.
“Ecolution by Scania’ is a new line of green products and services that help operators minimise the carbon footprint and optimise the efficiency of transport operations (productivity and profits). The package consists of various long term vehicle follow up and personal support for drivers to ensure all aspects remain fully functional and effectively employed.
“By opting for Ecolution by Scania, our customers will get the lowest CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, whether they choose diesel or renewable fuels” explains Martin Lundstedt, executive vice president at Scania.
The package includes transport cost analysis and expected fuel consumption on vehicles specified to minimise fuel usage and emissions. Driver training adapted to each driver’s needs and for the transport task, drivers get ongoing training at agreed intervals, regular performance reports, a special maintenance programme to preserve CO2 and fuel-efficiency, overall carbon footprint analysis performed at agreed intervals with agreements for periods of three to four years.
Ecolution by Scania is currently available in Sweden and Germany. It will be extended to European countries next year and to a wider market later.
Hybrids from MAN
MAN Nutzfahrzeuge AG announced a 25% investment in China’s Sinotruk to build a new version of the TGA in 2011, a new engine plant in Nuremberg and global purchasing for its worldwide product portfolio.
MAN exhibited its Hybrid vehicles suited for urban stop/start and medium distance transport tasks along with its latest TGS, TGX and TGSX ranges. The new range includes a 680 bhp V8 with 3000 Nm of torque. Where it comes to long distance haulage, MAN sees improved transport efficiencies lying in optimum selection of the driveline and better traffic management to reduce congestion.
The MAN concept S vehicle suggests a reduction of 25% in air drag levels (equates with passenger car drag levels). As a further contribution to transport efficiency is the possibility of achieving 3 litres/100 km better fuel consumption with the TGX and a raft of other productivity improvements when operators make a determined effort to apply MAN’s “Consistently Efficient’ approach to managing vehicles.
The programme and benefits include:
‘¢ More payload, less unladen mass
‘¢ More kilometres per litre of fuel
‘¢ Up to 30% reduction in CO2
‘¢ Reduction in total cost of ownership
‘¢ Fleet management services that improve vehicle availability, lower maintenance costs and greater reliability
‘¢ MAN Telematics monitoring kilometres travelled, driver ability, maintenance planning and schedules, etc
‘¢ Short term leasing
‘¢ Million Mobility , a guaranteed one million kilometres or 8 years (available on merit).
Daimler in cheerful mood
Daimler exhibited its German, American and Japanese vehicles consisting of 65 units in one huge location. CEO, Andreas Renschler, was in a cheerful mood when announcing a much improved performance for all aspects of the world’s largest truck manufacturer. Daimler says it is “Shaping Future Transportation’ and given that the cost of fuel is usually the major cost driver for truck operators, Daimler identifies ‘˜transport efficiency’ as its priority.
The sheer size of the combined display of Daimler worldwide products is somewhat overwhelming. Based on its three pillars to drive the shaping of future transport , “clean drive systems, safe drive and value drive’ – here is a brief synopsis of the road ahead:
Some 300 000 trucks are now operating with Daimler’s Blue Tech technology worldwide. North America and Japan are adapting the Daimler Blue Tec SCR technology to meet the increasingly stringent clean air standards. Daimler has so far produced more than 14 000 vehicles with alternative driveline systems.
Included among these are Fuso and Canter models and a newcomer in the form of an Atego suitable for short haul stop and start operations. This is the first series produced hybrid in Europe. It consumes 15% less fuel than its predecessor. Following the success of the Citaro FuelCELL hybrid, a Vito E-Cell and a Canter E-Cell have been added to the zero emissions possibilities. Several major competitors do not share Daimler’s confidence in lithium ion battery developments for commercial vehicles at this stage.
Regarding the Daimler Safe Drive systems, the company takes pride in announcing that one in three Actros operators order the stability control system and one in four the active brake assist. This undoubtedly has contributed to the 50% reduction in accidents involving trucks regardless of the huge increase in traffic flows and congestion.
In line with the universal theme that dominated the IAA 2010 show, namely, “transport efficiency’, Daimler’s third pillar in shaping future transport – Value Drive , consists of a comprehensive list of services aimed at securing customer satisfaction over long periods.
‘¢ Financial or operating leasing and rental with CharterWay.
‘¢ FleetBoard with innovative telematics to improve fleet efficiency.
‘¢ Comprehensive maintenance and technical back-up through TruckWorks.
‘¢ TruckMobility (TM) , a new service package presently available only in Germany and 40 European countries.
24-hour service guarantees short downtimes, covers vehicles up to eight years old or a maximum of one million kilometres extends to trailer and loadbodies. TM is planned to be rolled out to other countries from 2011. Along with this ambitious programme to gain and secure market shares, Daimler announced that in the process of shaping future transport, it would update nearly all of its product range over the next four years.
Volvo has healthy order book
Jufors, president and CEO of Volvo Trucks, in line with the other major truck builders, was happy to report better results and a healthy order book.
Like Scania, Volvo has been exploring the merits of various renewable liquid fuels and gas. In 1985 Volvo began developing hybrid technology and has successfully developed diesel and electrically powered drivelines using both diesel and renewable fuels. Vehicles suitable for distribution and waste operations have yielded from 15 to 30% in fuel savings depending on the operation and from being CO2 neutral when operating in the electric mode. Diesel and natural gas has also been developed as an alternative fuel but is not a reliable or advantageous as electrics.
Volvo is the first manufacturer in the world to use Bio-DME (Di-Methyl-Ether) as a vehicle fuel. “Bio-DME is highly interesting as a biofuel since it produces no less than 95 percent lower emissions of carbon dioxide compared with diesel. For a new fuel to have a chance of survival, it needs production, distribution and suitably modified vehicles. Now we have all three pieces of the puzzle in place in a complete, entirely unique field test,’ Volvo Trucks’ Environmental director Lars MÃ¥rtensson explains.
Field tests will take place over a two-year period to demonstrate the potential for large-scale investment in DME produced from biomass. The project will encompasses the entire technical chain from biomass to fuel, i.e. distribution, filling stations, trucks and haulage firms. The EU assessment is that Bio-DME could theoretically replace half of today’s diesel usage for heavy commercial transportation by 2030.
Technical developments will flow
Many more worthwhile technical developments will flow from the IAA 2010 show. These include the excellent products and services by companies such as Wabco, Tenneco and HJS Emission Technology that provide retrofit possibilities for operators to achieve significant reductions in fuel consumption, CO2, Nox and soot particles that result from proper management of exhaust gas management and after treatment.
Other interesting showcased developments were energy recovery systems, ways to improve present diesel making it a cleaner fuel with fewer emissions and reduced power consumption with better braking. On this latter point, one study shows that a 40-ton truck covering 180 000 km a year triples its fuel consumption if brakes are applied twice per kilometre than when it is cruising at a steady 50 km/h.
The pressure for more safety on the roads is becoming as intense on vehicle and equipment manufacturers as is the pressure on them for cleaner air. There are significant developments and achievements to address safety issues around congestion, rear end accidents, driver performance and attitudes. Some of these developments will be covered in future issues of FleetWatch and FuelWatch.
An important discovery for us was the fact that at least four truck manufacturers , Scania, MAN, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo – build truck-tractors in 4×2 and 6×2 execution with low fifth-wheel heights specifically for transporting high-cube containers, car carriers and other high volume loads.
Maximum height in Europe is just 4.0 metres and maximum length of articulated vehicles is 16,5 metres. The availability of these chassis is surely worth pursuing as the road towards solving the problems facing the citrus and car transport industries in particular.