European Commission proposes new trailer design rules

The European Commission has proposed new rules that will allow manufacturers across the continent to develop more aerodynamic truck and trailer combinations, expecting a notable reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions while also enhancing road safety.

According to the European Commission, the next generation of European trucks should be aerodynamically optimised to save fuel and adopt some innovations already on the road in the United States. The current EU rules covering heavy goods transport were established in the 1980s and were not designed with energy efficiency or environmental objectives in mind. At the moment, the maximum weight of heavy goods vehicles in Europe is 40 tonnes (44 in combined transport) and the length is restricted to 18.75 metres.

The new proposal will now allow for the aerodynamic optimisation of the truck cab and also accept the usage of ‘boat tails’ that optimize wind flow at the back of the trailer. “These measures will considerably improve the aerodynamics of vehicles, saving approximately € 5,000 per year in fuel costs for a typical long-distance lorry covering 100,000 km,” the Commission said in a press release.

“This represents a 7–10 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions (or 7.8 tonnes of CO2 for the same long-distance lorry covering 100,000 km). At the same time, the field of vision of the driver will be improved, helping to save the lives of 300 to 500 vulnerable road users such as pedestrians or cyclists every year.”

“A brick is the least aerodynamic object you can imagine and so we are going to improve the shape of the lorries on our roads,” EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said in a statement.
According to news wire Reuters, however, the EU process of securing endorsement of member states and parliament can take around 18 months and often dilutes the force of Commission proposals as industry lobbies against them.

“But discussion to relax existing law that limits the length of truck cabs can begin immediately and give manufacturers, with long planning cycles, guidance on future requirements.”

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