HGV manufacturers are calling for an EU-wide introduction of 32 metre long high-capacity vehicles to help cut emissions.

In a paper published this week the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) argued that high capacity vehicles, which are designed to carry twice as much freight as standard trucks, should be allowed to travel on designated parts of the EU road network.

High-capacity vehicles in the form of European Modular System (EMS) combinations are already allowed in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, most German federal states, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, with a maximum length of 32 metres.

The introduction of 32 metre long HCVs would be a controversial in the UK. The longest vehicle allowed on UK roads is the drawbar trailer or combination, which measures 18.75 metres in length.

Calls by Dick Denby, chairman of Lincolnshire haulier Denby Transport, for a trial of his Eco-Link double-trailer combination, which is a 60-tonne GCW, 25.25 metre, eight-axle combination, have yet to be heeded by DfT. Instead the government has a long term trial of longer semi-trailers, which measure up to 15.65 metres in length, underway.

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The ACEA paper claims that research from countries that allow HCVs shows that their use in place of regular trucks can reduce emissions by up to 27%. It could also halve the number of drivers needed.

The paper, dubbed High Capacity Transport: Smarter Policies for Smart Transport solutions, calls on EU policy makers to:

• Abandon what it describes as “ the restrictive interpretations” of EU legislation regarding cross-border use of EMS combinations

• Harmonise EU requirements for HCVs

• Base future EU regulations on HCVs on performance based standards

• Launch pilot programmes trialling the use of HCVs

• Introduce a high capacity transport system across Europe.

The paper also suggests additional driver training and strict safety criteria to encourage public acceptance of HCVs.

ACEA secretary general, Erik Jonnaert, said: “Truck manufacturers are committed to doing their part to bring down emissions. “However, these efficiency standards for new vehicles will not be enough to bring down total CO2 emissions from road transport,” he said.

He added: “In order to allow the benefits of high-capacity vehicles to be felt right across the entire EU, we urge policy makers to enable the introduction of a high-capacity transport system across borders.”