EuroCombi – innovative commercial vehicle concepts unveiled at IAA
By Mike Hanlon
September 24, 2006
September 25, 2006. The International commercial vehicle industry has opened up a new chapter in truck history at the IAA, where it has presented the innovative commercial vehicle concept “EuroCombi” to the public for the first time. The modular and road-friendly combinations are designed to transport 50 percent more goods per vehicle while reducing the amount of traffic. As such, they represent one way of dealing with the expected 20 percent increase in freight transport by 2015. The EuroCombi consumes 15 percent less fuel for each ton of transported goods, and ideally could replace 23 percent of conventional truck trips and thereby reduce long-haul traffic in Germany alone by 2.2 billion vehicle-kilometers a year. In international transport, EuroCombi can generate economic savings of more than 10 percent, and cut operating costs by 16 percent per palette area. The EuroCombi consists of a truck (tractor) with a semitrailer attached to a dolly, or of a tractor truck with a semitrailer to which a trailer is connected. Two EuroCombi variants are being presented at the IAA: a volume-oriented concept with a length of 25.25 meters and 48 tons of GVW, and a weight-oriented variant of the same length and up to 60 tons of GVW.
“Since all the experts forecast that freight transport in Europe will increase while the road networks will be expanded to only a limited extent, we have to exploit all of the opportunities in order to cope with this increase in a manner that is environmentally and road-friendly — without causing a massive traffic bottleneck,” said Prof. Bernd Gottschalk, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) at a joint press conference in Hanover. The other participants in the joint press conference were Andreas Renschler, DaimlerChrysler Board of Management Member and Chairman of the VDA Executive Committee for Commercial Vehicles, and representatives of the trailer and truck body manufacturers Kögel, Krone and Schmitz Cargobull. “The focus is on increasing efficiency and profitability while at the same time conserving resources,” said Gottschalk. “The overall aim is to make road traffic more efficient, not to increase the amount of traffic on our roads.”
The EuroCombi allows transport volume to be increased by up to 50 percent per vehicle, compared to today’s truck combinations. At the same time, it consumes 15 percent less fuel for each ton of transported goods. Ideally, the EuroCombi could replace 23 percent of conventional truck trips and thereby reduce long-haul traffic in Germany by 2.2 billion vehicle-kilometers a year. In international transport, EuroCombi can generate economic savings of more than 10 percent, and cut operating costs by 16 percent per palette area.
The EuroCombi consists of a truck (tractor) with a semitrailer attached to a dolly, or of a tractor truck with a semitrailer to which a trailer is connected. Two EuroCombi variants are being presented at the IAA: a volume-oriented concept with a length of 25.25 meters and 48 tons of GVW, and a weight-oriented variant of the same length and up to 60 tons of GVW.
The VDA, whose member companies developed these concepts during meetings of the Executive Committee for Commercial Vehicles, has drawn up ambitious specifications for the EuroCombi: The new concepts must be compatible with combined transport systems — in other words, it must be possible to load the truck’s freight onto railway cars. The length of the individual modules must conform to currently permissible dimensions. The EuroCombi should not hinder the traffic flow in any way, and should not put any further strain on roads or bridges. The EuroCombi should be able to drive around traffic circles easily, and comply with the regulations related to traffic circles (German “BO-Kraftkreis” regulation). In addition, the EuroCombi must be even safer than conventional trucks, which is why it must be fitted with the latest assistance systems.
"It should be a requirement that these vehicles use all of the safety technology currently available,” said Renschler. “As far as safety is concerned, DaimlerChrysler has conducted a field test over a distance of more than 100 million kilometers. The results show that our ‘safety package’ can reduce vehicle accidents by 50 percent. The use of the currently available technology could therefore prevent half of all accidents.” Electronic lane and brake assistant systems could substantially reduce the two most common types of accidents: rear-end collisions and swerving out of lanes.
In addition, a vehicle’s gross vehicle weight is not the decisive factor affecting road strain. Far more beneficial would be a reduction in the axle load. "A EuroCombi with eight axles has an axle load that is two tons lower than that of a standard combination," added Renschler. In fact, road strain could even be reduced by 10 percent with the new system.
“By presenting the EuroCombi, we are kicking off a dialogue with all parties affected by this issue,” said Gottschalk. “We will carefully consider all arguments, particularly the concerns of car drivers who are worried about traveling on roads with longer commercial vehicles. Our aim is not to introduce a maximum-weight concept of 60 tons, but to present a full range of technically feasible and efficient solutions. In addition, we will rigorously resist any tendency to use exaggerated claims and expressions in order to evoke negative responses.”