EC low-emission mobility strategy aims to curb CO2 from transport sector

The European Commission (EC) has published its low-emission transport strategy that aims to drastically reduce harmful emissions by 2030 through facilitating a faster take-up of cleaner vehicles and fuels.

Objectives include roll-out of a certification and reporting process to measure fuel consumption and CO2 emissions on HGVs, with the EC also looking to introduce measures to “actively curb” CO2 emissions from lorries, buses and coaches.

Countries outside of Europe, such as the US and Japan, have already brought in CO2 curbing measures and Europe “cannot lag behind”, the EC warned. It therefore plans to speed up work on designing CO2 emissions standards for larger vehicles.

“Given the average lifetime of a lorry of about 10 years, vehicles sold in 2020 will still be on European roads in 2030. In order to be able to make swift progress, different options for standards will be considered, including for engines only or for the whole vehicle, with the objective of cutting carbon well before 2030,” the EU strategy said.

Other measures include more distance-based road-charging, alongside work to improve EU-wide interoperability of electronic tolling systems; a revision to the directive on HGV charging to enable fees to take into account CO2 differentiation; and frameworks for all member states for boosting development of alternative fuels and infrastructure and promoting multimodal transport.

The FTA said the strategy is a step in the right direction, and welcomed the multi-faceted approach.

Pauline Bastidon, FTA head of European policy, said: “An effective framework for low emission alternative energy and an adequate roll-out of infrastructure for alternative fuels are key for us and can go a long way in helping the logistics sector reduce its carbon footprint.”

However, the FTA added that two key issues were not adequately addressed in the strategy: grants to support take-up of new technology; and changes to vehicle weights and dimensions.

“The EC needs to ensure that financial instruments providing guarantees to private investors are not the only source of funding available for the take-up of new technologies, and we would also like to see changes to vehicle weights and dimensions considered as a fundamental measure to reduce carbon emissions,” Bastidon added.

The ACEA, which represents vehicle manufacturers across Europe, called for a more balanced approach to reducing CO2 emissions, with more emphasis on all modes of transport – including air, maritime and rail.

It added that technology neutrality is key to supporting innovation and welcomed the fact this principle was embedded in the new strategy.

The association added that industry is working closely with the EC on a computer simulation tool (VECTO), which will model CO2 emissions from a wide variety of complete truck and trailer configurations. By 2018, VECTO will enable manufacturers to provide certified CO2 values to their customers for each and every truck produced.

ACEA urged the EC to allow enough time to analyse the impact of VECTO data and certification procedure before setting new CO2 limits.

Keltbray Group to fit DawesGuard cyclist protection device to fleet

London tipper operator Keltbray Group has opted to fit the DawesGuard safety device across its fleet vehicles following a 12-week trial of the system.

The DawesGuard creates a physical shield across the ‘danger zone’ between the front and rear axles of construction vehicles to prevent a person being dragged under the rear wheels.

Fixed above the DawesGuard is the Dawes PeoplePanel, made from shatterproof plastic, which is fitted over existing under-run bars to reduce the risk of entanglement of clothing or bicycle parts.

Both devices have been tested out on Keltbray Group’s London operation and trialled in a range of environments both on and off road.

Keltbray head of haulage operations Terry Good, said: “We have now carried out an extensive trial of the DawesGuard and believe this device will prevent vulnerable road users getting trapped underneath the nearside of one of our vehicles.”

He added: “We are also satisfied that the inflatable barrier does not negatively impact on the driving performance of our vehicles, and that the retractable mechanism, which can be applied on uneven and off road sites, is easy to operate for our drivers.”

The operator, which runs a 40-strong 100% Scania fleet of tippers, will be retrofitting eight units with the Dawes devices in the coming weeks, with all new trucks also fitted with the system as the fleet is updated within the next 18 months.

James Dawes, MD of Dawes Highway Safety and inventor of the system, said: “Keltbray have put the DawesGuard through a tough and rigorous trial process and we’re very pleased with the outcome.”

Keltbray Group have also committed to fitting Scania additional passenger door windows to all new vehicles joining the fleet to boost drivers’ direct visibility of cyclists alongside the vehicle.


Deputy London mayor Val Shawcross to open Freight in the City Expo 2016

London’s deputy mayor for transport, Val Shawcross, will be making the keynote speech at this year’s Freight in the City Expo on 2 November at Alexandra Palace.

Shawcross is well versed in the urban transport challenges facing the capital having previously chaired the London Assembly Transport Committee prior to being appointed to her latest role by mayor Sadiq Khan in May.

Freight in the City Expo 2016 will bring together freight operators, local government, TfL and supply chain businesses to share urban delivery best practice.

It will look at pending legislation facing urban areas, such as the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone in London and the creation of Clean Air Zones in other major cites, and the UK-wide trend towards encouraging active travel through greater numbers of cyclists onto the roads.

Speakers will advise on fleet compliance, latest technology and alternative delivery methods to make urban goods deliveries as low-emission, safe and economical as possible.

Complementing the comprehensive seminar programme will be two exhibition halls featuring the latest urban HGVs, vans and zero-emission cargo vehicles, as well as training, technology and compliance firms.

Last year’s Freight in the City Expo attracted around 700 attendees, with this year’s free-to-attend one-day event promising to be even stronger.

To find out more about the latest urban freight news, please sign up online for a free fortnightly e-bulletin, or you can simply register for event updates.

Technology versus direct vision in the quest to eliminate HGV blindspots

Freightinthecity’s sister publication Commercial Motor spoke to industry about the best way to help HGV drivers avoid collisions with vulnerable road users.

Technology to help HGV drivers avoid collisions with cyclists hidden in their vehicles’ blind spots is arguably now the norm, rather than the exception in city fleets. But with numerous mirrors, visual display units (VDUs), audible alarms and additional window panels to scan, is too much expected now of drivers operating in unpredictable urban areas?

How much can technology really help in reducing the risk of collisions between lorries and vulnerable road users, or is the most important place for the driver’s eyes to be on the road at all times?

This is an area TfL is hoping to explore through research it has commissioned with Arup, in partnership with University of Leeds’ Perception, Action Cognition laboratory. It wants to better understand the role of eye contact and direct vision (through windows) over indirect vision (through mirrors and VDUs) in improving road safety and reducing HGV collisions with vulnerable road users and “answer this question empirically”.

“The project aims to determine the effect of visual factors on HGV safety interacting with vulnerable road users,” says Hannah White, freight and fleet project manager at TfL.

“It will provide clarity around whether more direct vision in HGV cabs would result in safer driving and fewer people being killed and injured on London’s roads.”

The research is intended to be used to inform a case for the European Commission to encourage amended regulations on HGV design to provide drivers with greater direct vision.

While last month’s Brexit vote may affect the UK’s input on this matter, the research will still be of significant importance for the road haulage sector when published later this year.

Direct vision is ‘the way forward’

For London-based O’Donovan Waste Disposal, it’s a no-brainer that direct-vision cabs, such as those used on the Mercedes-Benz Econic (pictured) and Dennis Eagle Elite 6, provide drivers with the safest possible tool to prevent collisions with other road users.

MD Jacqueline O’Donovan says that the firm’s drivers have reacted positively to the enhanced visibility provided by the company’s two new Econics.

“Direct vision is the way forward for all cabs and is something that I would like to see manufacturers tackle head on, sooner rather than later. It takes too long [several seconds] for a driver to scan all their mirrors and monitors – a lot can happen in that time with London’s roads as busy as they are,” she explains.

O’Donovan adds that while mirrors and cameras have helped drivers on a basic level in the past, they are now outdated and the industry is looking to move road safety up a notch through better design. “Technology is only filling the gap at present. Direct vision needs to be a minimum standard and manufacturers can evolve from there to help drivers and keep vulnerable road users safer,” she says.

Construction haulier Keltbray is another advocate of keeping a driver’s operating environment as simple as possible. “Direct vision is by far the best option when it comes to ensuring a city truck is as safe as possible on the roads,” says head of haulage Terry Good.

The company has recently trialled Scania’s additional low-level, passenger-side window, receiving a thumbs-up from the firm’s drivers.

“While it’s not a full-length window, we find it a great help for our drivers. We are replacing our fleet within 18 months and we are specifying them with the extra glass door,” Good explains.

TfL launched a consultation in January this year under previous mayor Boris Johnson’s regime looking at whether lorries entering London should be required to be retrofitted with additional passenger door windows. The results have yet to be published.

Cameras and screens are a ‘great aid’

Keltbray was also first in line to trial Scania’s new Urban Tipper demonstration vehicle, shown at this year’s Tip-ex show in Harrogate, which features full air suspension, enabling the chassis to be lowered in urban environments to provide better direct vision for drivers.

Good says that when it comes to vulnerable road users protection safety equipment, a nearside camera and screen is also a great aid to drivers as it enables them to see down the entire length of the vehicle.

Keltbray has also been trialling the DawesGuard vulnerable road user protection system on its fleet, which Good says the drivers like as it is simple to operate via the flick of a switch, in addition to the Dawes PeoplePanel that fits over existing under-run bars to reduce risk of entanglement of clothing or bicycle parts.

Monitoring all equipment

Technology firm Brigade Electronics fully acknowledges the difficult task drivers have in monitoring all their mirrors and equipment in busy cities.

“Even when manoeuvring at low speed, a vehicle can travel a long way in the time it takes for a driver to check each potential hazard area in turn before returning his eyes back to the road ahead,” explains business development manager James Ashford.

“The vehicle can travel even further while the driver assesses the potential risks in these areas and reacts accordingly.”

To tackle this challenge, Brigade developed its Backeye 360 system. It eliminates blind spots by producing an all-round view of the entire vehicle in one image. “This saves the driver or operator from having to process information from several mirrors or monitors in quick succession, making it easier to spot and assess possible hazards,” he adds.

View from the frontline

Freightinthecity asked professional drivers’ forum Trucknet whether in-cab technology was a blessing or a blight, and how city operations had changed over the past 10 years. Here are some responses:

  • Glancing at a blind spot camera is no more distracting than glancing in a mirror (and a lot more helpful and useful than a mirror if on a left hooker for instance). Checking a sat-nav is a lot less distracting than reading an A-to-Z while driving, and the sat-nav audible warning is no more or less distracting than a radio. It all depends on the individual driver and how he copes with his own personal perceived level of distraction.
  • Modern vehicles (usually) have at least six mirrors, often, a Fresnel Lens, cameras… the list goes on. But – and it’s a big but – drivers still only have two eyes and two ears. I fully appreciate that this oversight is all our fault [lorry drivers], but c’est la vie.
  • It was definitely easier 10 years ago. Most people doing town centre deliveries had FM and P cabs – nice and low etc. Now the trend seems to be bigger trucks with worse vision. I think the cameras are a welcome addition and not much of a distraction.
  • We’ve already got six mirrors, two side windows and a windscreen to look at/through – how many more cameras/monitors do we need? It doesn’t matter how you design a vehicle, you will still get people trying to sneak up the inside, outside, front and rear. Bring back cycling proficiency lessons in schools.
  • A rearward-facing camera is dynamite – it’s on permanently and is not a distraction at all. You can keep the audible warnings and blinking lights, however, as they are a distraction.
  • New mirror designs have created their own blind spots. When approaching a roundabout, it is now possible for a car approaching the same roundabout from the right to be hidden from view by the mirror.


Kers technology UltraBoost to be trialled in UK on rigid lorry

The world’s first hybrid rigid lorry fitted with a new kinetic energy recovery system (Kers) is poised to be commercially tested on a number of UK urban delivery routes.

UltraBoost, designed by French technology firm Adgero, is claimed to reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions by up to 15-30% depending on terrain and traffic flow.

During braking, the unit becomes a generator, recovering kinetic energy that would otherwise be lost as heat. This energy is then stored in a bank of five high-power graphene-based ultracapacitors  and used to re-power the vehicle.

The technology is controlled by an intelligent management system that tracks driver input in order to automatically control the regenerative braking and acceleration boost.

In addition to lower fuel use and CO2 emissions, the system is said to reduce brake wear and tear and associated maintenance costs.

For the UK trial, the UltraBoost system will be fitted to a Euro-6 Iveco Eurocargo by Southampton-based conversion specialist Alternatech.

The vehicle will then be supplied through vehicle rental firm Fraikin to a well-known UK operator for use on its urban delivery routes, including Greater London.

President of Adgero, Mack Murray, said it was important that the demonstrator trial would include delivery routes in London, considering the city’s efforts to tackle diesel vehicle emissions.

“Vehicle emissions are a major concern for London and Adgero is proud to be working on part of the solution. We look forward to exploring the future of our application on other routes and vehicles in the weeks and months to come.”

Adgero recently partnered with manufacturer SDC Trailers to install the Kers technology on a 13.6m curtainsider trailer currently on trial in the UK with operator Eddie Stobart.

Low-emission van guide and online calculator updated with latest data

A low-emission van guide to help operators make informed buying decisions on the latest clean technology for LCVs has been updated by Cenex and the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LCVP).

Aimed at small-to-medium sized fleet operators of vans up to 3.5 tonnes, the Low Emission Van Guide and accompanying Van Cost and Carbon Calculator (VC3) have been revamped with the latest data on how to make CO2 and cost savings.

The guide now includes information such as new topic sheets, data on hydrogen vans and guidance on how to get involved in the low carbon van community.

Supporting online tool, VC3, has also been updated to include information such as user-defined payload data, bio-fuel blends and congestion charge details.

Steve Carroll, senior technical specialist at Cenex, said: “The current month-on-month growth in UK van registrations is good news for the motor industry, but this means UK van parc CO2 emissions are also on the rise.

He added: “As some UK cities are looking to set up clean air zones by 2020 by imposing charges on polluting vehicles, it is an ideal time to inform van owners of their alternative options to diesel.”

Gloria Esposito, head of projects at the LCVP, added: “Fleet managers can access case studies showing the cost savings achievable through the use of low emission fuels and technologies, and access information on the low-emission van market, government policy, infrastructure and assistance.”










Low Carbon Champion Awards 2016 shortlist revealed

Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) has announced its shortlist for this year’s Low Carbon Champion Awards.

The awards recognise outstanding achievement within the UK of accelerating a shift towards lower carbon vehicles and fuels, and in helping to reduce road transport emissions.

Now in their sixth year, the awards will be presented at a networking and dinner event taking place on the first evening of the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle (LCV2016) show in Milton Keynes on 15 September.

The ‘Grand Prix’ sponsor of the Low Carbon Champions Awards is Millbrook Proving Ground, which also plays host to the two-day LCV2016 event on 14-15 September.

LowCVP MD Andy Eastlake said: “It’s been another year of significant progress in decarbonising UK road transport from the point of view of both technology and uptake. The LowCVP is at the centre of this exciting industry and we look forward to celebrating the UK’s continued leadership in this vital area.”

Last year’s awards saw truck manufacturer Scania GB recognised for its development of a new HGV gas chassis in the Low Carbon Heavy Duty Vehicle Manufacturer of the Year Award – a category that was proud to sponsor.

The judges said: “Scania has been observing and evaluating the market and then delivered an exceptionally good product with lower associated risk.”

Awards categories and shortlist:

  • Low Carbon Car / Van Manufacturer of the Year (Sponsor: Michelin)
    Shortlisted: BMW, Iveco, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Tesla, Toyota GB
  • Low Carbon Heavy Duty Vehicle Manufacturer of the Year (Sponsor: Freight in the City)
    Shortlisted: Alexander Dennis, BYD Europe, Scania Great Britain
  • Low Carbon Vehicle Operator of the Year (Sponsor: BAE Systems HybriDrive)
    Shortlisted: Alphabet, Bibby Distribution, First Bus, John Lewis Partnership
  • Low Carbon Fuel Initiative of the Year
    Shortlisted: Argent Energy, CNG Fuels and National Grid Gas Distribution, ITM Power
  • 2016 Award for Low Carbon Innovation by an SME (Sponsor: Advanced Propulsion Centre UK)
    Shortlisted:  Microcab, Riversimple, Tevva Motors
  • Low Carbon Road Transport Initiative of the Year
    Shortlisted: Addison Lee, Gnewt Cargo, H2 Aberdeen, Reading Buses
  • 2016 Outstanding Low Carbon Publication or Report
    Shortlisted: Cambridge Econometrics, EA Technology, Element Energy, Element Energy & the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT)

Special awards categories: (No shortlist; winners announced on the night)

  • Outstanding Individual in Promoting Low Carbon Transport
  • ‘Grand Prix’: Outstanding Achievement in Low Carbon Transport (Sponsor: Millbrook)



Government announces details of £24m low-emission freight vehicle competition

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and Innovate UK is opening up a £24m funding pot for industry-led research trials and the development of low-emission vehicles or on-vehicle systems.

These projects must reduce emissions in the freight, logistics, utilities and emergency industries.

HGVs and vans contribute 31% of the UK’s domestic transport greenhouse gas emissions and the government said better uptake of low-emission vehicles to UK fleets can help the UK meet its CO2 reduction targets, as well as improving air quality.

The funding competition is run in two streams:

  • Part 1 will fund projects that trial vehicles and on-vehicle technology. The aim is to test the benefits of the technology before commercialisation
  • Part 2 will fund projects that develop innovative and disruptive on-vehicle technologies, systems or business models. These must reduce emissions in the real world.

Businesses can bid for funding now, with the registration deadline on 12 October and application deadline on 19 October.

A briefing event for potential applicants will take place in Solihull on 14 July 2016.

The government said it expects all projects to be collaborative and involve a vehicle operator, with costs ranging from £250,000 up to £5m.

Industry recently heard how the UK’s exit from the European Union would not affect its drive towards cleaner technology.

WH Bowker fits extra nearside windows to 12 new Volvo FM rigids

WH Bowker has opted for additional nearside windows to be fitted to 12 new Volvo FM 330 6×2 rigids joining its fleet to boost road safety for vulnerable road users.

The Lancashire-based firm said the enhanced direct vision for drivers on the vehicle’s nearside, as well as redesigned mirror housings on the latest FMs, would help reduce blind spots.

Director Bill Bowker added: “Volvo’s reputation for producing a safe vehicle continues to be paramount in our decision to operate a single make fleet. Our drivers take part in training to help their awareness of vulnerable road users, particularly when delivering to, or transiting the urban environment. We are supporters of Clocs and the company is Fors Silver accredited.”

The 12 Globetrotter-cabbed rigids will join 13 new FH 500 tractor units on WH Bowker’s 120-strong all-Volvo fleet. The latter are equipped as standard with AEBS, Forward Collision Warning and Lane Keeping System.

Bowker said: ”The Volvo system is specified over and above the legislated standard as it includes a radar function and a head up warning display for the driver that not all other manufacturers can offer. In my opinion, this manifests and supports Volvo’s position as the manufacturer whose core values revolve around safety for drivers and other road users.”

All 25 new trucks were supplied by Thomas Hardie Commercials in Preston.


Mayor announces ‘toughest crackdown’ on most polluting vehicles in London

The mayor of London today announced details on what City Hall has described as “the toughest crackdown on the most polluting vehicles by any major city around the world”.

Making good on his promise one week into office to step up his efforts to improve London’s air quality through lowering transport emissions, Khan has launched the first stage of his Clean Air Action Plan consultation.

This includes a proposal for a new £10 emissions surcharge, dubbed the ‘T-charge’, on all pre-Euro-4 standard vehicles entering the existing Congestion Charge area from 2017, which would act as an interim measure before the launch of the Ultra Low-Emission Zone (ULEZ). This would be in addition to the current Congestion Charge fee of £11.50 per day for entering the zone between 7am and 6pm Monday to Friday.

HGVs entering Greater London must already be a minimum of Euro-4 standard due to London Low Emission Zone rules, so the T Charge plans really serve to bring all other vehicles in line with them.

However, Khan’s proposals to speed up the roll-out of London’s ULEZ and expand its reach have already rung warning bells with the freight industry.

The mayor has proposed today to bring in the ULEZ one year earlier than planned, and extend its reach beyond 2020 to London-wide for HGVs, buses and coaches, and as far as the North and South Circular for motorcycles, cars and vans.

Christopher Snelling, head of national and regional policy at the FTA, said the ULEZ plans would cause significant issues, particurlarly for van operators where compliant vehicles will only have been available to buy from this year.

“Typically, operators who rely on second-hand vehicles buy at four years old, so it will place significant cost burdens on them,” he explained.

FTA estimates that the new proposals may cost the average small operator with five vans more than £100,000 extra up front – more than 150% of the company’s annual turnover.

“No-one disputes the need to improve air quality. What we do object to is the one-sided nature of these measures – all burden and no support,” Snelling added.

FTA is therefore calling for a temporary discount on the Congestion Charge for compliant vehicles prior to the ULEZ starting.

Khan’s other air quality plans include a call to government to introduce a diesel scrappage scheme and proposals to clean-up the most polluting buses and routes.

The first consultation is open until Friday 29 July, with a second, more detailed one planned for later this year.

Speaking today, on the 60th anniversary of the Clean Air Act of 1956, Khan said:  “Just as in the 1950s, air pollution in London today is literally killing Londoners.

“That’s why I’m launching a hard-hitting plan of action to clean up our filthy air. Tough challenges call for tough measures, so I’m proposing a new £10 charge for the most polluting vehicles in central London from 2017, followed by an even stronger crackdown on vehicles pumping out hazardous pollutants.”