Heavy Road Vehicles (Trucks)

It is generally accepted that truck transportation is related to economic growth. It has also been proven (# OECD/IEA, Transport 2009) that the more GDP increases, the less the correlation. Indeed, while people get wealthier, they tend to have a lesser need for cumbersome equipment while their need for advanced and high- value-added products rises. Road transportation is thus naturally impacted.

The trucks currently in use already have a good efficiency, even though improvements can still be made. The thermal efficiency of truck engines is around 40% today. The International Energy Agency (2009) considers it could be brought up to 50 or 55% in some cases. As with cars, hybrid motorization also brings significant improvements to trucks, even though most of the trucks are used outside cities. Aerodynamics plays an important role, as well as auxiliary services on board. Tire performance is also crucial to reducing gas consumption; new high- performance tires lead to fuel savings of 4-8%.

Studies have also shown that increasing the size and weight of trucks lead to an overall saving of the gas consumed. Trucks that are 25 m long (60 tons of load) consume indeed 15% less fuel than the equivalent load delivered using 16-m-long trucks (40 tons of load). However, large trucks require a number of adaptations to road infrastructures.

Finally, the most important innovation for reducing energy use by trucks lies probably in the modernization of the logistics system itself. The logistics chain can be restructured by partially integrating production or by limiting the variety of supplies. This would considerably reduce the volume of exchanged materials and therefore the truck transportation volume. In addition, new procurement strategies which would extend, for instance, the duration of the deliveries would allow for optimal flow of supplies and therefore reduce the volume transported as well as empty load transportation.

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