Volvo Trucks is campaigning for the European Union to adopt longer commercial vehicle combinations currently in use in Sweden and Finland.
Ulf Ehrning, transport analyst at Volvo 3P, Volvo Trucks’ development company, said: “We are lobbying hard for the EU to adopt 25.25 metre combinations in continental Europe too, since this would permit increased use of standardised load carriers and thus stimulate the growth of intermodal transports.”
Over the past few years, the company has run a project called EMS (European Modular System) which focuses on increased use of standardised load carriers such as exchangeable bodies and semi-trailers as well as 20- and 40-foot containers to simplify integration between different traffic modes. The system is based on Swedish-style 25.25 metre truck combinations.
Two 25.25 metre combinations can replace three conventional 18.75 metre vehicles.
The current focus is on evaluating the EMS tests recently conducted in the Netherlands and Denmark. Volvo then plans to conduct trials in Germany. Volvo has also been testing 90-tonne 30 metre long timber haulers in regular operation in northern Sweden.
“Our tests show a 20 per cent fuel saving per tonne-kilometre by switching from regular, European 16.5 or 18.75 metre rigs to 25.25 metre combinations. And, if you step up to 30 metre long rigs, you save as much again,” said Ehrning.
In the UK, Denby Transport has developed its own 25.25m “Eco-link” vehicle, though the government has been decidedly lukewarm in its response.
There is strong opposition to longer vehicles from the rail lobby which believes that modular vehicles will simply steal freight from the railways.