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EU truck design shake-up faces long delay


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Financial Times / December 11, 2014

European Union governments have agreed new rules that could put an end to the cab-over-engine (COE) trucks that campaign groups say are environmentally inefficient and endanger other road users.

But fierce industry lobbying put back implementation of the measures by five years, including a three-year moratorium, despite the rules being voluntary.

Current regulations on truck weights and dimensions restrict the length of heavy goods vehicles. Thus to maximize cargo space, truckmakers utilize COE cab designs.

Critics claim that this creates dangerous blind spots and blunt front ends, increasing the risk of fatal accidents with pedestrians and cyclists.

Trucks are twice as deadly as other road-going vehicles in countries such as the UK, France and Sweden, according to the European Transport Safety Council, and heavy trucks accounted for 14 percent of all fatal collisions in Europe in 2011.

The new rules will allow truck cabs to be 80cm to 90cm longer (31.5 to 35.4 inches longer), bringing European trucks closer to their US counterparts, which are distinguished by their extended bonnets and tend to be about 1.5m longer than heavy tractor-trailer combinations in the EU.

This could lead to curved, more streamlined noses, which campaigners say could improve pedestrian protection, crash performance and increase the driver’s field of view by 50 percent.

The new rules will also allow for aerodynamic flaps at the rear of the vehicle, which are commonly used in the US and guide the airflow around the vehicle.

While heavy trucks make up only 3 percent of vehicles in Europe, they account for 25 percent of road transport carbon dioxide emissions, according to Transport & Environment, a think-tank.

“This is a big thing that’s going to happen to trucks, it’s a fundamental change to an industry that’s fairly conservative,” said William Todts, senior policy officer at T&E.

Brussels had initially planned to phase in the rules from 2017. But concerted opposition from France and Sweden brought about a delay to 2022. The two countries, home to truckmakers Renault and Volvo which recently launched new model ranges, had been seeking to delay the rules until 2025.

Member states will meet later this month to formally approve the new rules but finalization of the legislation will not come until 2019, followed by a three-year moratorium.

Campaign groups said it was highly unusual to have such a moratorium on voluntary regulations.

Acea, the European automotive manufacturers’ trade body, said that while the industry was “fully committed to improving fuel efficiency and safety”, the three-year lead time — from finalizing the rules in 2019 to implementation in 2022 — would be “challenging” for truckmakers to meet.

Erik Jonnaert, Acea secretary-general, said: “This industry requires a predictable and supportive regulatory framework. Truck manufacturers may have to make significant changes to their vehicles after this legislation passes. Trucks are not developed overnight, but instead are the product of long-term research and development.”

The rules on weights and dimensions were initially implemented to protect highways from excessively large tractor-trailer combinations.

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EU truck safety and efficiency law faces delay until 2022

Economic Times / December 11, 2014

A European Union law agreed on Wednesday to make trucks safer and more aerodynamic, aimed at cutting fuel bills, emissions and saving lives, will be delayed by around eight years after the industry pushed for more time to develop new vehicles.

The law will allow trucks to have longer, more aerodynamic noses similar to the shape of high-speed trains from around 2022. Until now, new designs had been hampered by limits on the weight and size of vehicles.

Member states, led by France and Sweden, had originally pushed for a five-year moratorium on the new designs, which would have delayed their introduction to around 2024, because of the need to develop new safety requirements first.

Truckmakers such as Sweden's Volvo and France's Renault had said the introduction of new cab sizes should be delayed to create a level playing field for all, pointing to the long life cycle of trucks.

However, the European Commission, which proposed the law, and the European Parliament wanted to allow the new cab designs as soon as possible, arguing that trucks' brick-shaped cabs hamper drivers' visibility, leading to cyclist and pedestrian deaths.

The compromise reached on Wednesday includes a three-year delay, although the Commission will first have to develop new safety requirements for lorries.

EU lawmakers and environmental campaigners said the entire process would delay the introduction of the new lorries, originally expected around 2017, to about 2022.

"This deal signals the end of dangerous and inefficient brick-shaped trucks," said William Todts of environmental campaign group Transport & Environment.

"But the absurd and unprecedented decision to impose a ban on new lorry designs until 2022 casts a dark shadow over the agreement."

Volvo, for instance, began rolling out new designs in 2012, so it could be at a disadvantage if competitors introduce more up-to-date models in the near future.

Additionally, the new cab designs will no longer be mandatory, as the Parliament had demanded, but merely voluntary.

Transport & Environment said that delays would be at the expense of the economy because fuel bills would be higher, as well as road safety and the environment.

Lorries are twice as deadly as cars, accounting for 15 percent of all fatal collisions in Europe, according to the European Transport Safety Council.

The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), however, said that an industry with long product cycles needed 10 years to develop the best designs.

Wednesday's compromise needs to be formally approved by member states on Friday.

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80 to 90 centimeters ain't enough extra length for much of a hood, they'd end up with a conventional like the White Road Boss short conventional, with a hood barely long enough to cover the radiator and front of the engine and most of the engine still buried under the cab. Might make conventionals viable in euro day cab applications though, and allow more rounded front ends on cabovers or longer sleepers.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok.......I must be stupid, so adding a hood increases forward visibility?..... Really? And trucks are twice as deadly because they accounted for 14% of fatal crashes in 2011? I would love to meet the politicians that sponsored this one and ask them to add 2+2,geez.

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