European parliament

The mass adoption of "greener trucks" has taken a step closer, after European legislators moved to address the anachronistic rules currently limiting uptake.

The European Commission (EC) is seeking several amendments to the weights and dimensions directive. It believes it is out of date and hindering innovation in truck design, which could improve fuel usage, lower emissions and make HGVs safer for other road users through rounded front ends.

A higher take-up of electric and hybrid trucks would also be a benefit of relaxing restrictions, as currently the additional weight of batteries and electronic propulsion systems deter many operators who are unwilling to sacrifice payload.

Speaking to, Chris Yarsley, EU affairs manager at the FTA, said the goal of changing the directive is to "fundamentally change the vehicle on the road".

He has been working with a group of technical experts brought together by the EC to research the benefits of aerodymamic devices.

However, he pointed out that while advances in technology are welcomed, they should not be forced upon operators. "Not all vehicles need aerodynamic devices. On a motorway, yes, put an aerodynamic device on the back to make them streamlined, but in a city they are not acceptable. We don’t want to see devices becoming mandatory."

The FTA has co-signed a statement with environmental umbrella organisation Transport and Environment, which calls for the swift adoption of the changes, with both parties keen to "see the benefits of better aerodynamics, such as lower fuel burn and lower CO2 emissions".

The EC has said revising the directive should also facilitate the movement of intermodal transport, particularly through an increased use of standardised 45ft container units, as well as allowing for more consistent enforcement of the rules.