Last week I was in Hannover for the IAA2016, the twice-yearly truck fair. This is the place where European truckmakers exhibit their new models and score a few political points in front of the assembled press.Quite a few of my truck industry colleagues approached me and urged that I check the latest edition of Lastauto Omnibus, a truck testing magazine. Judging from their big smiles, there was an article in there that they all liked a lot.
Back in 2014 I wrote a blogpost saying that truckmakers behaviour smelled of cartel. At the time, the truckmakers had just successfully torpedoed a proposal to allow – not mandate – smarter, safer and more fuel-efficient truck designs. It was quite a surreal experience with truckmakers opposing more design freedom saying it would upset “competitive neutrality”. Our joint position with hauliers was: “who cares, we want more competition so bring on the new cabs”. But truckmakers rallied their friends in the member state transport ministries and managed to postpone the enabling of new designs to after 2020.
The NGVA claims that natural and biogas are the only viable routes to clean up road vehicles, especially trucks. Even if we would ignore the issue of methane leakage – and that is not a good idea – the potential for natural gas remains limited.
A German trade body has uncovered evidence of a lorry exhaust manipulation scam ‘on an industrial scale’. Camion Pro says its research suggests around 20% of lorries using German roads have had their NOx emissions reduction technology manipulated by the scam that is rife in eastern Europe, causing increased pollution and losses of income from the German motorway toll scheme.
Belgium this week introduces a distanced-based truck toll as a new study reveals that trucks cost society €143 billion a year across the EU. The independent study for green transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) also found that trucks currently cover only 30% of these costs through taxation and charges. As the EU revises its road charging directive, T&E said Belgium’s road charging scheme is a fair way to ensure that trucks pay for a bigger share of the damage they cause.
Road charging for lorries has been introduced in Russia, with environmental groups hoping it will bring a shift in freight from road to rail. The measure is intended primarily to raise money to repair roads; any environmental benefits look like being accidental.
T&E commissioned a study to monetise the external costs of trucks and to determine whether truck users are now covering a larger share of their external costs than in 2009 – when the first Are Trucks Taking Their Toll? report was published. The report finds that while there has been progress, a lot remains to be done.
Switzerland has voted in favour of building a second road tunnel through the Gotthard alpine mountain. In a referendum in late February, the Swiss electorate voted by 57% to 43% to approve a second road tunnel, despite it appearing to contradict the Swiss constitution that commits the country to shifting goods transport from road to rail. The vote has been widely seen as part of a political swing to the right, which has been accompanied by a weakening of public willingness to support environmental measures.