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Green Technology Sows The Seeds For The Future Of Commercial Vehicles

Green Technology Sows The Seeds For The Future Of Commercial Vehicles

The sun is shining on the future of commercial vehicles.  After recent years spent bearing the brunt of environmental concerns, the industry now looks greener and healthier.  In the latest development, global logistics provider DHL has partnered with a Staffordshire-based manufacturer to launch a system which harnesses solar energy and converts it to electricity for trailer lights and tail-lifts.  Unveiling this new technology, the company also announced its ability to bring fuel savings of up to 5.2%.  This is encouraging news for those seeking to invest in commercial vehicles. If technology can be used to improve vehicles’ cost efficiency as well as their environmental footprint, then they become a more appealing option for investors.  Smaller changes, such as installing GPS tracking on fleets have already been proven to improve fuel usage and route planning; the next stage is making these vehicles even more future focussed.

Cars on Deck

On-board tracking for better fuel efficiency

Commercial vehicles are increasingly using on-board data capture to inform and improve their operational management.  GPS tracking devices can improve vehicle efficiency and maintenance, helping to maintain good lifecycle management of vehicles so that ultimately less vehicles go to scrap.  Financial coverage based on telematics is also proving increasingly useful in monitoring efficiency and helping companies to plan the best routes and fuel usage for their needs.  If companies can find other ways to use the data captured by these on-board sources, they can continue to make savings and improve their bottom line, as well as their environmental impact.

Electric and hybrid vehicles

With London introducing an ultra Low Emissions Zone in 2019, it’s imperative that British companies find cleaner, greener ways to fuel their vehicles.  One area of growth is the use of electric or hybrid vehicles for urban deliveries. Using 100% recyclable sodium nickel chloride batteries, electric vehicles work well within small city zones and can be recharged relatively quickly and easily.  For longer distances, diesel-electric hybrids are proving popular as they can run on diesel for the main part of the journey and then switch to electric at city outskirts. Meanwhile in the US, a hydrogen-electric truck has been developed, with zero emissions and an estimated half of the operating costs of a purely diesel vehicle. What’s clear from these developments is that these vehicles combine greener credentials with business practicalities; again, appealing to investors.

Platooning to lower emissions

In the UK, an £8.1 million trial of ‘platooning’ vehicles is due to take place in the very near future.  This process involves three lorries travelling in convoy, with the pace set by the front vehicle. The second and third vehicle can take advantage of being in the slipstream of the first, becoming more efficient.  This in turn lowers emissions and improves air quality. While the lorries will be autonomous, they will all be staffed by drivers, ready to take over if needs be. As some commercial drivers approach autonomous vehicles with a degree of apprehension, industry leaders such as those at UPS have emphasised that drivers are their biggest asset, with technological advances intended to help rather than replace them.  Furthermore, recent consumer data shows that the public has mixed levels of trust relating to driverless vehicles.  Again, if technology can be harnessed to give greater efficiencies and lower emissions, and create a focused, well-managed workforce, the investment opportunities should open up.

Thanks to advances in technology, the future of commercial vehicles is looking green and fertile.  From solar panels to electric batteries, on-board data capture to pragmatic platooning, developments can be used to make fleets more efficient both financially and environmentally.  This in turn will appeal to those looking to invest. A market which has for so long been under attack from green campaigners now looks to have a healthier future.

Author: Cindy Trillo