Interview: Ben Kraaijenhagen, Product Management Environment and Trends, MAN Truck and Bus

MAN's Ben Kraaijenhagen talks to Automotive World about global emissions harmonisation and autonomous trucks

At MAN Truck and Bus, the Product Management Environment and Trends team is responsible for foresight – examining the impact of industry megatrends, developing potential resultant scenarios and identifying appropriate solutions for those scenarios. Ben Kraaijenhagen, who heads up this team, also focuses on ensuring MAN’s products are safe, that they meet all health and societal needs, and that they are environmentally-friendly.

Kraaijenhagen is speaking at Automotive World’s Automotive Megatrends Europe 2014 conference, which takes place in Brussels on 10 and 11 September. Kraaijenhagen will speak in Stream 1: Powertrain Innovation, on 10 September: Commercial Vehicle. In an interview with Automotive World, Kraaijenhagen talked about MAN’s focus over the next few years, the likelihood of global emissions harmonisation and the potential for autonomous truck technology.


What are the key research and development projects that MAN is currently working on?

We are focusing on alternative powertrains at the moment. We see two main streams. One is big cities with low emission zones. Ideally you want vehicles producing no emissions, but that is hard to realise from both a cost and technology point of view. For a pure electric vehicle, you have to bear in mind the CO2 balance overall if the electricity plant is using coal, as that could be worse than diesel trucks.

The second stream is outside cities – inter-urban transport. There is a strong trend to reduce CO2 emissions and reduce fuel consumption. So we are looking towards electric vehicles, hybrids, and gas vehicles.

How has electrification and alternative fuel changed the development of trucks and buses?

Today we are producing nearly 100% diesel-driven trucks and buses, because we are in the medium- and heavy-duty segment. We have gas engines in our portfolio, and later we will have hybrid and electric vehicles in our portfolio. When we see these in large numbers, however, will depend on the infrastructure that will be needed – it is a bit of an action/reaction model at the moment. We are trying to find out what infrastructure is planned, so we can form a plan for our truck portfolio. We are really looking towards the long term evolution here.

Do you envisage emissions harmonisation and the concept of the ‘global truck’ becoming a reality?

It has been discussed. At MAN we are in contact with regulators in Europe, the US, Latin America, China and Russia – everywhere, in fact, and the regulation is always different. It adds a lot of cost and time-consuming projects, and it would be a big help if we could have the harmonisation of vehicles and type approval. It is my belief that it will be another ten years before [emissions harmonisation] begins to happen.

MAN TGX Brazil

In terms of emissions regulation, what do you think lies beyond Euro VI?

All OEMs have agreed not to invest huge amounts of money in exhaust gas emissions. You can discuss a bit about NOx, and about fine dust, but the focus should be on the CO2 equivalent emissions of a vehicle: what kind of fuels, and what kind of powertrains. Through alternative powertrains you automatically reduce other emissions. There is a lot of complexity and additional costs with Euro VI, and the customer is paying the cost. We really need to look at CO2, and at fuels, powertrain, and where the vehicle will be driven.

What are the key trends you expect to see developing in the global commercial vehicle industry beyond 2014?

If you look ten or 15 years ahead, there will be a split in Europe’s vehicle class, between high-technology class vehicles, medium-sized vehicles, and the low-cost trucks like those offered in China and India. Looking ahead, I see a trend of moving from low-cost trucks, to budget trucks. These budget trucks will be designed and developed more efficiently, consuming less fuel and offering greater security when compared to low-cost trucks, which are not as reliable. In China, you can still buy a truck for €22,000 to €25,000 (US$29,500-US$33,500), and it will go from A to B, but you don’t know whether it will arrive at B, how much it will cost, and what energy it will take to arrive at B.

I also see a trend towards safety assistance systems to avoid accidents and improve traffic flow, with European OEMs having a positive influence over non-European OEMs. The first goal outside Europe is products which are more durable, reliable and efficient, and consume less fuel for more efficient transportation with a better energy balance.

Daimler has recently announced its self-driving trucks. Does this change anything for you?

This is nothing new. We have already run numerous projects in Europe to show that self-driving trucks are a possibility. Technically it is possible, but there are questions over data security, management, and the availability and quality of data. Audi has proven in a pilot project that autonomous driving is possible, and at MAN we are involved in autonomous driving. I am convinced there will be pilot projects on a small scale for specific routes, but in general we are a long way off. From a legislative point of view, it is still not allowed. As OEMs, we could say yes, but you cannot implement it on a broader scale until you have dealt with the legal aspects.

VW and MAN Latin America trucks

How does MAN identify consumer demand and needs from region to region?

We have three streams. The first is my department: foresight. We do it on a general basis, and by country. Secondly, we work on a regional basis, and are in constant contact with customer groups. Thirdly, MAN is involved in many working groups with institutes, and universities where we discuss and analyse developments in logistics, transport, and inter-modality.

What do you think will be the main focus of the automotive industry over the coming years?

There needs to be a focus on the global problem of the environment, not only CO2, but also the availability of materials. The industry has to look to alternatives. We also see a trend in the whole stream of globalisation, where consumers are moving into urban environments, and the growth of transport will continue. There is also a change in mentality. Consumers used to own a car privately, but that isn’t necessarily true now. There are new business models. You don’t sell trucks anymore, you sell transport. For us, that means completely new business models. This also changes with alternative powertrains. If you look at electric driven vehicles, the business model also needs to consider who looks after the battery, the vehicle, and aftersales.

Globalisation is also huge, with the new centres of China and India. We are not sure how Africa will develop. Many have said it is the next big thing, but we are not sure. What is clear is that Europe is no longer the centre of the world; neither is the US. This will have a huge impact on our behaviour, and our dependency.

Rachael Hogg

Organised by Automotive World, Megatrends Europe 2014 is a two-day, multi-stream conference focusing on Commercial Vehicles and Passenger Cars. Kraaijenhagen will speak in Stream 1: Powertrain Innovation, on 10 September: Commercial Vehicle.

To register for this event, please go to

For further details on this event, please contact the event manager, Amanda James: / +44 (0) 292 070 9318

Download your free copy of Automotive World’s Megatrends magazine today. This quarterly publication covers a range of forward-looking automotive and commercial vehicle topics, from concept through to aftersales.

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