Skip to content

The big picture for Europe’s commercial vehicle industry

Automotive Megatrends Europe 2014 - Big Picture panel discussion featuring Frost&Sullivan, UPS, Volvo Trucks, Daimler Trucks and the UK's FTA

Europe’s commercial vehicle industry will be shaped by a number of key megatrends over the next decade. During the Automotive Megatrends Europe 2014 conference, several of the industry’s key influencers opened the event by presenting their perspectives on the big picture for the European CV market.

Life after Euro VI

Among the key issues put to panellists was the implementation of Euro VI and what might follow it. Sandeep Kar, Global Director – Automotive and Transportation Research at Frost and Sullivan, believed that something akin to a Euro VII was “definitely on the cards.”

“In the US we are talking about greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations for 2018, and thinking beyond 2022,” Kar said. “Some standards that are being discussed are so stringent that there is no way you can meet them without hybrids. I hope it will be more focused, based on duty cycle or application rather than painting the industry with one brush.”

James Hookham, Managing Director – Membership and Policy at the Freight Transport Association, felt that the industry needs to allow the improvements of Euro VI to take hold before looking further ahead. “The Euro VI standard is a massive advance,” Hookham said. “The air coming out almost smells better than the air going in. But we need time for Euro VI standards to kick in for the benefits to be achieved. We need vehicles out on the road to take stock of the next direction for Euro standards. Let’s start getting some of the current vehicles out there.”

Automotive Megatrends Europe 2014 Big Picture panel CV day
Automotive Megatrends Europe 2014 – CV day Big Picture panel discussion

The potential of connectivity

Discussing the question of how to improve freight efficiency, the panel agreed that telematics and connectivity have huge potential for improving the way that commercial vehicle operators conduct their business. Peter Harris, Director of Sustainability, EMEA at United Parcel Service (UPS), was quick to point out the advantages that the connected environment offers. “Technology will be a fundamental enabler in the years going forward,” said Harris. “It’s a macro, global trend that’s allowing the industry to tackle the challenges in front of us. On such a large, global scale, small changes to individual connectivity components, when scaled up globally, can make a huge difference. We’re less interested in the infotainment side, and more interested in the practical business benefits of these technologies.”

Two representatives from global OEMs on the panel stressed that connectivity would be one of their main focuses over the coming decade. Mats Deleryd, Senior Vice President Quality Development, Environmental Care and Safety at Volvo, summed up the variety of benefits that bringing connectivity into vehicles would bring. “Connectivity has enormous potential,” he said. “Freight emissions, safety and personal effectiveness are all areas that can be improved. We need to be connected, and one of the most important things to look at is an open platform to address all these issues.”

Manfred Schuckert, Head of Global Regulatory Strategy – Commercial Vehicles at Daimler, said that connectivity was one of Daimler’s “three main pillars” and that the OEM was working towards managing connected components in a financially viable way. “All aspects of connectivity are being developed,” he said. “Today, a customer wants to know where their shipment is located. We have to prepare all vehicles to offer that. It’s all about costs. You can do it, but you have to do it in the cheapest way.”

“Horses for courses” in the powertrain environment

With a number of powertrain options available to commercial OEMs, Harris suggested that there is “no silver bullet” that would provide the best option, and that instead it would be a case of considering different fuels and types of powertrain for different applications. “There is no single solution,” Harris explained. “The technologies are very duty specific. In our industry, we move things around the planet running up and down motorways. We therefore see great potential for electrification. A lot of what we do is quite short range, and electrification has the great benefit of dealing with air quality. It moves the issue away from the area that is the biggest challenge, in urban areas. There’s also great potential for natural gas and biofuels. A lot of potential solutions are out there.”

“We need support from regulators,” Harris continued. “At the moment we have to pay for everything that’s outside our fence as well as what’s inside; it is a crazy market.”

Automotive Megatrends Europe 2014 CV day Big Picture panel debate

Hookham addressed the popularity of natural gas when looking at the commercial vehicle market. “There is a lot of interest in gas for long haul trucking, and a lot of effort trying to get some understanding in government about this fuel,” he said. “The pioneers and early adopters will lead the way, which will give confidence to smaller players. They’re looking for UPS and others to make all the mistakes first.”

Providing some insight into natural gas adoption in the next ten years, Kar gave statistics that suggest diesel will remain the dominant choice, although gas would take hold of around 9% of the market by 2022. “Diesel will still dominate the CV market in 2020,” Kar said. “It will still hold 86.4% of the market by 2022. We are looking for a future where diesel still dominates, but 9% is a very impressive figure for natural gas, and 9% penetration by 2022 is very feasible.”

Improving safety

Lowering the number of collisions involving commercial vehicles was universally agreed to be a crucial issue by the panel. “Safety is one of the big megatrends that I wish the industry would talk more about,” said Deleryd. “1.2 million people are being killed in traffic today. The projection is that this figure will be doubled by 2030. That’s because traffic is increasing in developing countries where safety is not focused on enough. The number one factor of death between ages 15 and 29 is traffic. Going forward, active safety will really be the key.”

Hookham said that focusing primarily on the requirements of drivers would be a better approach to addressing safety. “One of the concerns fleet managers have is that when a driver is surrounded by alerts and warnings in a congested area, there’s too much information to really understand it all. This is a great opportunity for OEMs, managing the information better so that drivers can focus on the right things.”

Matt Ayres

Welcome back , to continue browsing the site, please click here