Long truck kind to the environment, say experts

Heated debate on Euro Combis in MAN Forum magazine

Introducing long trucks may significantly reduce the burden on the environment, the transportation industry, and consumers. Despite a heated debate, this is something that shipper Ulrich Boll, traffic expert Björn Dosch of the German Automobile Association (ADAC), and Kay Lindemann, Deputy Managing Director at the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), all agree on. In a discussion initiated by MAN, the experts exchanged their different views on the pros and cons of 25-meter trucks.

These trucks, known as long trucks, are already in action in several European countries. In Germany, a country-wide field test is to clarify whether these vehicle combinations could be allowed and under what circumstances. At 25.25 meters, the semitrailer tractors, also referred to as Euro Combis, are around 6.5 meters longer than the longest trucks permitted today.

The debate, which can be found in the latest issue of the Company’s MAN Forum magazine, sees opinions vary widely in some cases. While ADAC expert Dosch refers to the inadequate infrastructure for the use of long trucks and the increased danger of unauthorized overloading, Lindemann of VDA highlighted the flexibility that comes with using the truck. DB Logistics, a Deutsche Bahn company, has even voiced its support for the planned field trial. Shipper Boll does not see any conflict between the trucks and rail traffic. Long trucks are more favorable on journeys to and from rail terminals than conventional trucks. “This could actually even make rail a more attractive option.”

Boll emphasizes the practical benefits of extended combinations. He says that 80 to 90 percent of freight carried by shippers today consists of volume shipments: “We are no longer hauling about steel plates for the mining industry, but are primarily moving smaller, high-quality and lightweight commodities.” He believes that shippers would ensure they could carry as high a load as possible since it is in their own financial interests. Two such long trucks can carry as much as three conventional trucks. He says that his company could save up to 295,000 kilometers — or 9,400 liters of diesel — a year.

The experts agreed that the total weight of the vehicles should be limited to 40 tons and agreed on the basic conditions under which the long truck could also be introduced in Germany. According to ADAC expert Dosch: “In the Netherlands, long trucks are allowed on the freeways, as well as on certain secondary routes that were previously tested. That would be a possible model to follow.” Lindemann also agrees with this, adding: “This would offer an array of advantages all around: for the environment, the transport industry and the consumer.”