Martin Flach, product director at Iveco - manufacturer of the Eurocargo – has called on legislators across Europe to standardise urban emission and safety standards and incentivise OEMs to improve their offerings.

“In legislative terms the next major thing to hit the truck industry will be when we have to start declaring emissions,” said Flach. “How much that will drive the buying cycle remains to be seen. I don’t know of many operators who will buy on an emissions level. I may be wrong. And certainly in the car market this has had a wider effect.”

Speaking just days before Liberal Democrat London mayoral candidate Caroline Pidgeon called for a peak-time ban on HGVs, he said: “There is a certain naivety in people who say they want to ban trucks from London for example, because I would give them three days until they can’t buy a cup of coffee or a sandwich or hospitals run out of oxygen and clearly it would be seen as an over-reaction. What is required is to address the issues and not do a knee-jerk reaction.

“Similar to the debate on Clocs, where London thinks it can go it alone, there is a risk of London, Birmingham and Manchester all doing things differently. So as a manufacturer we would struggle to justify the investment to have a different product for every city. One of the key things is not just to have national requirements, but international requirements,” he insisted.

“Across Europe all sorts of cities have all sorts of problems and if you are going to have low-emission zones in cities, for example, at least let them be consistent. Then as manufacturers we can invest in the technology that will achieve and improve on those requirements.”

The Eurocargo was crowned International Truck of the Year 2016 and Iveco has dubbed it the “truck the city likes” but Flach is not sitting on his laurels and outlined several key areas where trucks of the future could go.

“When we look at the city we have got to focus on several different criteria. Top of the pops at the moment is air quality. Major cities are struggling with air quality that is outside of the reasonable requirement. There is the challenge there to improve air quality,” he said.

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The Iveco Eurocargo at the Freight in the City Expo in London, October 2015.

Flach is also an advocate for out-of-hours deliveries: “Then we have a second challenge in terms of congestion in the city and what to do to effectively reduce the level of congestion during peak hours. The idea of banning trucks during the rush hour is easy to do but it doesn’t actually solve the problem. Then that brings you on to the whole debate of how to reduce the number of vehicles in the city, which means we are looking at things like night-time deliveries. There is a huge opportunity there and let’s not underestimate the challenges around it. But if you use a quiet vehicle – and we have quiet vehicles - all the technology, be it gas; hybrid or electric for the final mile just means that all you need is a quiet driver.

“Fundamentally the idea of doing more night-time deliveries takes congestion out of the city during peak hours. And this improves air quality because driving at night means less congestion, which means the amount of emissions coming out of that vehicle will be less. It is one of the obvious ones, that politically is not easy to do. There has been successful work done in this area and we need to follow that up,” he said, alluding to the late 2007 three-month night-time delivery trial in Wandsworth for Sainsbury’s - which involved rescheduling two early morning deliveries to the south-west London store to 1.30am and 3.30am respectively, using a vehicle with a variety of noise-reducing measures.

Finally, Flach said that the introduction of Euro-6 as the mandatory emission standard for commercial vehicles above 3.5t GVW on 1 January 2014 was already delivering results in urban environments: “If we come back to air quality, all of the evidence seems to show – and it is early days – that Euro-6 in the city environment is delivering what the legislators were looking for. It has had a significant effect reducing emissions in the environment. There were limitations on the test cycles in urban areas as established by the European Union for Euro-5, but Euro-6 has addressed that and is doing what it says on the tin. If we go beyond that natural gas goes beyond Euro-6 in terms of NoX but particularly in terms of NO2.”