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'Monster' truck makers flaunt green credentials

The Local · 23 Sep 2010, 13:11

Published: 23 Sep 2010 13:11 GMT+02:00

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And to the dismay of environmentalists, makers of these new 25-metre (82-foot), 60-tonne articulated behemoths say they are a greener alternative to the shorter trucks now plying European roads.

"They are of interest to our clients and to society in general," Fabrice Piombo, a spokesman for Renault Trucks, told news agency AFP at the IAA Commercial Vehicles fair in Hannover, which runs to September 30.

Such trucks, also known as Longer and Heavier Vehicles (LHVs) or Gigaliners, already roar along roads in the United States and Australia, but other than in the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden, they are outlawed in Europe.

In most European countries, where roads tend to be narrower and more sinuous than the other side of the Atlantic or Down Under, lorries are generally not allowed to be longer than around 16.5 metres and to weigh more than 40 tonnes.

But with EU governments seeking ways to cut their carbon dioxide emissions, companies like Volvo Trucks and MAN say their monsters could move goods around the continent with less fuel and less pollution.

"It improves transport efficiency and fuel efficiency and you need fewer drivers," Lennart Pilskog, director of public affairs at Volvo Trucks, told AFP. "The whole industry is with us."

MAN, which is taking part in nationwide trials of monster lorries in its native Germany in 2011, has even dubbed its aerodynamic MAN Concept S prototype, unveiled in Hannover, the "Dolphin."

The truck can offer a 25-percent reduction in fuel consumption and in carbon emissions - provided, that is, that European regulations are changed and vehicles get longer, the firm says.

But environmental pressure groups and supporters of more European freight being transported by rail are unimpressed, and opponents have clubbed together to form the "No Mega Trucks" pressure group.

"Longer and heavier vehicles are a danger to the safety of all road users. LHVs will damage the environment because they will lead to more truck journeys," according to the group's website www.nomegatrucks.eu.

"And they will cost taxpayers billions of euros because Europe's roads were not designed for such monsters. In short: mega trucks are dangerous."

Martin Roggermann from the German Pro-Rail Alliance says monster trucks would mean less investment in rail freight and more traffic, and that companies' claims to want to do their bit for the environment is nonsense.

"Truck makers don't want to sell fewer vehicles, they want to sell more," Roggermann said.

Story continues below…

But Volvo's Pilskog says that opponents' fears are unfounded.

"In Holland there was no effect on rail transport," he says.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:36 September 23, 2010 by dbert4
What environmentalists? The bigger trucks are hazardous to the normal traffic around them.
15:40 September 23, 2010 by Gretl
I agree. I would like to see more freight handles by rail in the US as well. European lorry drivers are so much better than American (or at least follow the rules more). Less big rigs on the highway system would make driving much safer, as well as lessen the damage to the roads with the increased weight.
15:54 September 23, 2010 by auniquecorn

European lorry drivers are so much better than American (or at least follow the rules more).

How would you know?, your not American.
16:09 September 23, 2010 by Elstor
Monopolies are great when revenues steer in an ominous direction. Relegating wealth is never an option. These units (for those that know how to operate 34,000 US/Lbs. units) are great and would help re-establish alternate ways for others (besides railroads) to profit and level job markets, as well and create growth for small businesses that cannot afford the orbital rates associated with line-hauling materials transports across (say) U.S. states. In the U.S. (say 2002) where Oklahoma led the field in the price of fuel for independent business owners (selling an average $1.17/US gallon), the average cost from Coast-to-Coast was $1400 in fuel for direct transport with profit to speak of. Today, that same transport for the cost of a single unit has nearly doubled, and marginal profits are sheared to less than half today for same. There is no fear to speak of. People that drive small vehicles have more accidents in parking lots than professional operators do driving 100,000 kilometers in a single year with large units. The U.S. problem stems not from height - but structural limitations. These units would serve well in Mid-to-Western states, but would require load-shifts from Monster to standard units to complete transports into populated areas to avoid (say) rimming into benign overpass. No matter how the figures look - these Monster units can, should and will change the transporting industry in the U.S. and abroad, all fears aside.
16:22 September 23, 2010 by Beachrider
Remember that these 'tandem trailer' trucks aren't permitted in all contexts in the USA. You cannot take them to NYC surface streets at all. Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington all have their limits for these trucks. Connecticut doesn't permit them at certain times of the day.

'Tandem Trailer' trucks are just another level in a country's transportation matrix. Clearly, trains give more efficiency with less flexibility. Cube-trucks are at the other end of the line. 'Single-trailer' trucks and 'Tandem-trailer' trucks can play a role in Germany's overall mix. Those two trucks (in the story above) could have had one driver and no passing issue would have happened.
17:02 September 23, 2010 by lordkorner
Drive a bigger car,problem solved,he wrote as he removed his tongue from his cheek.
18:05 September 23, 2010 by DinhoPilot
Monster trucks coming, Scooters increasing, small cars increasing... uhmm uhmm (And I was thinking in motorcycling in the highway...)

Sounds like a good time to start to thinking in owning a helicopter.
19:27 September 23, 2010 by Gretl
auniquecorn - Why do you assume that? My name is Margaret, my handle is my German nickname, I was born in Long Beach, CA, and currently reside in Tennessee, after being dragged kicking and screaming out of Bayern after three lovely years there.
00:24 September 24, 2010 by blufx1963
Build the roads up, if you are going to have the big trucks. Or just forget it. I drove a big rig in the US, for fifteen years. Believe me, it was a headache to go to older places, with small roads in the US. I did it, but, it made my hair white before it's time... Otherwise, it was a joy to run them on the open roads that were modernized. No worries about hitting low overpasses. Those cabover models are useless though. Get trucks with the hoods on the front. I spend two years running cabovers, and they make you nervous. If you happen to roll a cabover, you could lose your head. literally! So, build your roads and overpasses to accomodate the long hooded models, with 53 foot trailer lengths. You know your shippers want them. Also, if you do make the switch, you will lose many trucking jobs. Because the big rigs can haul so much freight. You wouldn't believe it. Big trucks, less of them on the road. But, less jobs. Spend money to get rid of jobs. Think about that...
12:13 September 24, 2010 by michael4096
farming is still very big all over germany and at harvest, like now, the biggest problem is slow tractors and trucks overtaking on narrow, windy roads. There are many more accidents involving trucks at this time of year. These monsters wouldn't help

OTOH I've noticed many new logistics operations being set up at autobahn exits and so it may be possible restrict big boys to a few purpose built roads local to highways. This, of course, would destroy the business of more traditional hauliers
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