22 to 24 October 2024 FUEL & GAS LOGISTICS




Diesel Lorries Are Still King of the Roads

The Mobility Monitor is a representative survey conducted by the Allensbach Institute and commissioned by acatech, Germany's National Academy of Science and Engineering. According to the 2024 edition of the survey, the public clearly feels that strengthening and modernising transport infrastructure is important. The rail network, in particular, received critical reviews from 65 per cent of the respondents.

Almost 80 per cent of freight transport in Germany is handled by road. Since an investment of nearly 90 billion euros is needed in the country's railways, this fact is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Nearly all lorries on the road are powered by diesel. According to statistics, there were around 3.74 million trucks in Germany at the beginning of 2024. Only slightly less than 61,000 of those were electric. That amounts to less than 2 per cent.

Although EU Member States have voted for significantly more ambitious CO2 fleet limits for all heavy-duty vehicles, those limits must be feasible. According to the new EU rules, the prescribed limits for CO2 emissions are to decrease in stages over the coming years. CO2 emissions from newly registered vehicles must be reduced by an average of 90 per cent by 2040. For new city buses, CO2 emissions will be prohibited as early as 2035. The aim is to achieve the EU's climate targets for 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050.

Maintaining public transportation in compliance with these requirements could be especially complicated in rural areas. And given the difficult financial situation in which many municipalities find themselves, conditions for investing in electric buses will probably not improve.

Here, the situation is the same as for the logistics companies. Electric vehicles cost two to three times more than their conventional diesel-powered counterparts. Yet the range of a commercial electric vehicle is only between 300 and a maximum of 500 kilometres, and charging takes around three-quarters of an hour. This assumes that a charging station is accessible. Although there are increasing numbers of e-truck charging station providers and petrol station companies offering e-truck facilities, the network is far from being fully developed in Germany. In Eastern Europe, the situation is even more critical. As we all know, heavy freight transport does not stop at the German border.

An additional problem is that the batteries make the lorries heavier. Even though heavy-duty electric vehicles can carry a total load of 42 metric tonnes, the battery alone weighs about four tonnes, reducing the possible payload.

The maximum weight for conventional lorries is 40 tonnes, which includes a payload of around 25 tonnes. They can also travel between 600 and over 1,000 kilometres after just 15 minutes of refuelling. Petrol stations are easy to find for truckers which is also a huge advantage when it comes to the legal requirements for driving and rest intervals.

In consideration of climate goals, vehicle manufacturers have already invested billions of euros in the development of electric drives. Nevertheless, diesel engines remain an integral part of the day-to-day life of logistics professionals. This makes replacing conventional diesel fuels with renewable alternatives all the more important, not least as a way for transport companies to improve their sustainability record.

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