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Aerodynamic HGV regs gain Euro Council approval, but RHA says many issues still to resolve

  • 10 June 2014
  • By Hayley Pink

Rules to allow manufacturers to exceed current European weights and dimensions to produce more aerodynamic and safer HGVs received the backing of the Council of the European Union last week – a body representing member states’ national governments.

However, the Council proposed an eight-year delay before the new rules would come into force, a move that the European Commission (EC) would like reconsidered when the revised dimensions are taken to the European Parliament (EP) this summer.

Vice-President Siim Kallas, in charge of transport, said: “We urgently need to improve the shape of the lorries on our roads. The current dimensions tend to produce a brick shape which is one of the least aerodynamic shapes you can imagine. There is no need to make society wait almost a decade to have cleaner and safer lorries on the roads.”

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), while welcoming the decision to relax the designs to aid better vehicle designs, has also called for a long lead time should front-end truck design become mandatory for manufacturers.

It said in a statement: “The lead time granted to the industry must reflect the complexity and expense of this exercise, bearing in mind that trucks are very complex to design and are also produced in small volumes. This lead time should respect the product lifecycle for a new truck, which is on average 10-15 years. This means that manufacturers need to know about a new regulatory framework several years before its implementation.”

The EC said the agreement by the Council should “pave the way” for the new rules to be adopted by the end of 2014, or in early 2015.

However, Jack Semple, director of policy at the Road Haulage Association, said: “There is no agreed EU position as yet, even on issues agreed separately within the Council, Parliament and Commission. Talks on that will start in the autumn in ‘trialogue’.  While agreement may come fairly quickly it cannot be guaranteed, given changes in the Parliament following the elections – and there will be a new Commission.”

 He added that there are also still fundamental decisions to be thrashed out between all parties regarding the proposed design of new cabs – for example whether or not the new regulations will apply to all new trucks over 3.5-tonnes or only the longer cabs, and whether specific design characteristics will be mandatory or if the requirement will be more performance-based.

“Sorting out the rear of trucks and trailers appears relatively straightforward and we could have the increased length to improve aerodynamics on the road by 2018. There are many unresolved issues regarding the front of the truck, however,” he added.


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