Road hauliers ready for the environment challenge
Two Unrae studies are proposing a national project in an effort to renew renewal the circulating fleet. The declared aim being the reduction of pollutants and fuel costs besides increasing road safety through new technologies
The goal: a more sustainable, safer and efficient mobility through an in-depth study of the current evolution and prospects of the Italian transport sector, based on an unbiased and evidence-based analysis. Thus Unrae, the Association of foreign car manufacturers present on the Italian market, embarked on two new studies, entrusted to external research bodies, with precisely these goals in mind. GiPA, a market research institute specialising in automotive after sales, and RIE, an industrial and energy research centre, have been entrusted with carrying out the research, highlighting the current situation of the road haulage sector and identifying viable ways to reach realistic objectives, especially where effective environmental and economic sustainability are concerned, safeguarding the industry from demagogic temptations and improvised solutions that would work against the healthy evolution of such a strategic sector.
Looking closely at these two studies, from an environmental point of view, according to GiPA’s survey – given the direct relationship between fuel consumption and CO2 emissions - it is possible to estimate that in Italy, between 2000 and 2016, for the sole contribution of technological innovations introduced was a 16% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions attributable to freight transport. However, such reduction was the result of a rather laborious process given the absence of an adequate renewal of the circulating fleet.
"The study portrayed several scenarios and different plans for renewing the national industrial fleet - said Marc Aguettaz, CEO of GiPA Italy - and the most effective scenarios refer to a medium-term period, but will be feasible only if all the stakeholders involved share a common goal and recognize the central role of road haulage in the national industrial framework”.
According to this proven study, now in its third edition, Italy is now in the position to take full advantage of a fundamental opportunity to renew its fleet - among the oldest in Europe - and achieve several other goals at the same time: from the reduction of fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and other pollutants, to reducing fuel costs as well as enhancing road safety.
"If the size of the country’s transport fleet remains stable - explains Aguettaz again referring to the above mentioned studies – and, from a purely theoretical point of view, fuel consumption for every single new vehicle is not reduced any further, the complete renewal of the fleet, which will take about twenty years, would result in saving 22 billion litres of diesel between now and 2039, equal to a reduction of 58 million tons of CO2 emissions".
The second study, carried out by RIE, is aimed at understanding and evaluating how and with what impact new engine technologies will provide concrete answers to the energy transition.
"Technological, economic and social reasons will also transform the future of the transport sector. Betting on a single technology, though - stresses Alberto Clô, president of RIE and coordinator of the research in question – will hardly guarantee the lowest possible environmental impacts in a short time. Diesel will still be the driving force behind this energy transition, by virtue of its functional characteristics and sophisticated engine technologies, designed to reduce emissions.
“Radical developments can be expected," insists Clô, "but they won’t be very quick in coming. At the moment, a swift replacement of older engines with modern and advanced diesel engines - such as Euro VI-d - represents the most realistic and effective choice in terms of reducing pollutants. The market is clearly showing this to be a realistic view and not regressive".
Starting from an in-depth study of the sector’s data on the most popular engines currently in circulation and the hypothesis of a complete renewal of the circulating fleet, the study did recognize that although the possibility of reducing hazardous emissions will certainly continue to exist also in the coming years, the outcome will be strongly conditioned by the speed with which the fleet will be renewed applying the principle of technological neutrality.
FENOGLIO: NEED TO RATIONALIZE THE SECTOR’S POLICIES
"Clarity and a realistic view, a valuable contribution towards the sector". Franco Fenoglio, president of Unrae’s industrial vehicles division, explains that the association he is currently chairing, decided to commission the two studies to demonstrate "how blind and devoid of any reasonable and concrete basis is a policy that, on the one hand, obliges manufacturers to engage in unprecedented financial and technological efforts to reduce harmful emissions, while, on the other, makes no serious commitment to encouraging the purchase and use of new and “cleaner” vehicles, following the adoption of rather provisional and sketchy traffic measures and allocating financial resources to maintaining unproductive measures in terms of both a real reduction in environmental pollution and optimization of road haulage”. Despite the existence of modern detection and control systems, the average vehicle load capacity, according to data this time from Eea, the European Environment Agency, is no more than 60%. "This leads to an absurd and unproductive use of infrastructures that are, for the most part, already insufficient both in terms of quantity and quality - continues Fenoglio - while an innovative system, now possible and already in place in many other business sectors, is already able to solve the problem of unnecessary congestion on the roads, making a fundamental contribution towards increasing environmental sustainability and safety".