Redesigning trucks

Today the front of European truck cabs are flat faced. They need to be redesigned to deliver better aerodynamics, vision, safety and driver comfort.

The aerodynamics are bad, meaning more fuel is burned and more greenhouse gases are emitted. Direct vision – what the driver sees through the windows – is also poor, as is overall safety performance, resulting in more road deaths, particularly of pedestrians and cyclists. Trucks make up less than 2% of vehicles on EU roads but account for 15% of annual fatalities. 

Why does it matter?

After improving the engine/powertrain, redesigning the front of the truck is the most important thing vehicle-makers can do to save fuel and emissions. Reductions of 3-5% are possible. Regarding safety, truck collisions kill around 4,000 annually in the EU, more than 1,000 of which are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

What has been done so far? 

A 2015 revision of EU law provided for longer truck cabs if – and only if – they delivered better aerodynamics, vision, safety and driver comfort. Detailed rules were approved in July 2019 and involve the use of a 'design envelope'. (For more on this, see the proposed amendments to Regulation (EU) No 1230/2012 regarding type-approval requirements for certain motor vehicles fitted with elongated cabs and for aerodynamic devices and equipment for motor vehicles and their trailers.) Truckmakers are allowed to lengthen the cab but only if they round the slides of the cab front and slope it back. A report by Apollo Consulting, commissioned by T&E, suggested how these design enhancements can be delivered and regulated.

When can these trucks be placed on the market?

Lawmakers agreed that these new cabs can be put on Europe’s roads from 1 September 2020, and detailed legislation is on track to meet this timetable. Many truckmakers already have trucks in the design stage to take advantage of the planned new rules. Iveco, MAN/Krone and Mercedes/Daimler have released details.

Image courtesy of PEM Motion Gmbh