Looking Back to the Future

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Professor Garel Rhys OBE, has outlined some of his views regarding how the UK truck market might look in the year 2020. Using his experience of the past to set the scene for the future, Rhys predicted how he saw the UK truck industry moving forward to meeting demand for ever-cleaner emissions and perhaps even leading to a Euro10 engine.

Speaking at the recent DAF trucks 2005 review, Rhys pointed out, that the future is not as far away as people might think. He said that “2020 is only fifteen years away. If you go back the other way, you’re back to 1990 and that doesn’t seem so very long ago.” In examining the past as a means of preparing for the future, he discussed how fifty years ago, demand was centred around the need for professionalism in the market – which is very similar to today. A major difference between now and then is the kind of international market that we have. He said: “We have international haulage in a way today that we did not have in 1955. International business has changed so much.” He spoke of how the roadways of yesteryear just weren’t up to the demands laid upon them and it was the coming of the motorways that revolutionised the country and created the “truly British economy” by drastically reducing travelling times.

In the future, Rhys looked toward hybrid technology which he predicted would be more popular within the North American market due to there being “no tax on petrol. And if there’s no reason to switch to diesel.” He predicted that in 2020, diesel would be favoured by the Europeans. He felt that pedestrian safety would become a key issue and in-cab technology would work towards increasing pedestrian safety. He said that the catch word would become ‘anticipation’ with fitted heads-up displays, dead-man brakes, early warning devices etc. He added that “roads are going to have to become intelligent highways, keeping the people away from the vehicles.” He said this ‘separated culture’ currently exists to a degree in North America, with pedestrians and traffic mixing less than they do in Europe and the UK.

In summary, and likening the future top three truck companies to football teams; in 2020 Rhys saw that DAF would be the Chelsea of the truck market, doing well because of its vertical integration. In second place and in the Manchester United position, he predicted would belong to Daimler Chrysler and in third place, as the Arsenal of the market would be Volvo.

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