“The industry has a Herculean task to tackle”

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Text: Juliane Gringer
Photos: BPW, AdobeStock – luckybusiness – DVZ

In order for logistics to make its contribution to climate protection, it needs new drive concepts in road freight transport. The demand on politicians: they should ensure clarity in the funding landscape! Representatives from politics and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) discussed this at the online conference “Politics meets Logistics”.

Markus Schell, personally liable managing partner at BPW Bergische Achsen KG:

»The days of burning anything – whether diesel, gas or other substances – are long gone.«

Dr Hendrik Haßheider, senior government official at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure:

»We decided to consider several technologies, monitor further developments and then also promote the associated infrastructures accordingly.«

Matthias Strehl, CEO of Ludwig Meyer GmbH & Co. KG:

»As hauliers, we are committed to greater sustainability because we have a responsibility towards the environment and society.«

Mathias Stein, member of the German parliament, SPD, member of the Committee on Transport and Digital Infrastructure:

»Fleets need to be made carbon neutral quickly over the next few years, and all technologies should be used to achieve this.«

In future, the Federal Ministry of Transport wants to subsidise up to 80 percent of the additional costs for climate-friendly vehicles in order to implement the government’s Climate Action Programme – regardless of the tonnage and the technology used. “That’s a strong announcement,” emphasised Matthias Strehl, CEO of Meyer Logistik, at the “Politics meets Logistics” conference in November 2020. The format established by DVZ Deutsche Verkehrs-Zeitung regularly brings representatives of the transport industry into conversation with political decision-makers – this time at a digital meeting due to Corona. The discussants underlined that logistics needs a sustainable funding framework in order to realise new drive concepts in road freight transport. The participants of the Wiehler Forum industry meeting organised by the BPW Group had voted on the topic in advance.

Markus Schell, personally liable managing partner at BPW Bergische Achsen, also welcomed the government’s clear commitment to funding: “This pledge helps to get zero-emission vehicles on the road faster and in larger numbers.” BPW not only offers a proven concept for inner-city emission-free transport with the electrically driven axle eTransport. In 2021, the company also plans to launch its own electric 7.5 tonne truck together with renowned industry partners – which will then also be eligible for funding.

Climate protection is a Herculean task

Mathias Stein, member of the German parliament, SPD, member of the Committee on Transport and Digital Infrastructure, sees the goal of saving around 35 percent of CO2 emissions form trucks by 2030 as an immense challenge for transport and logistics: “Here, the industry has a Herculean task to tackle. The fleets must be made climate-neutral quickly in the next few years, and all technologies should be used to achieve this.” Above all, Stein would also like to see greater use of digital solutions that can make transports more efficient and avoid empty runs, for example. He also calls for greater promotion of technology development.

According to Dr Hendrik Haßheider, senior government official at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, where he is responsible for alternative fuels and drives, the government is committed to intensifying the measures together with the responsible bodies of the European Union – which should also benefit the small and medium-sized supplier industry. Markus Schell also supports this: “You can only buy what has already been developed. ” In his opinion, the technological potential of German SMEs has not been focused on enough so far: “SMEs have many technologies that could be put directly on the road, but the shell is simply missing.”

Don’t argue – try it!

Entrepreneur Matthias Strehl also sees the responsibility with the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEMs): “Unfortunately, there are not enough production-ready products to show at the moment. There is too much discussion instead of trying things out and developing them on the living object, so to speak. This could have been started years ago. Instead, we wait for prototypes that take a long time to test. In his opinion, politics provides good impulses: “As hauliers, we are definitely willing to test and buy the vehicles. We are committed to more sustainability today and will continue to do so in the future because we have a responsibility towards the environment and society.”

Pursue multiple drive concepts

According to the climate protection programme, the government is focusing on promoting battery-electric drive concepts, fuel cell technology as well as the trolley truck. “Even we cannot say which technology will ultimately prevail,” explained Haßheider. “That is also not the task of a ministry. But we have decided to consider several technologies, to observe further developments and then also to promote the associated infrastructures accordingly.” Industry representative Matthias Strehl thinks this is the right way to go: “There is still no clear direction for the future drive concept. I personally also believe that we will see not one, but several concepts.” Markus Schell of BPW also thinks it makes sense to adapt drive technologies to different transport tasks. “Whereby we naturally favour the electric motor from an engineering point of view: Purely in terms of efficiency and design, it is optimal. I think the times when anything had to be burned – whether diesel, gas or other substances – are long gone.”

Trailer offers huge potential

The trailer can make a major contribution to climate protection by significantly reducing energy consumption through lighter materials, sensor technology and thus the networking of the entire vehicle. Schell explained in the online conference: “And we should also think further about what else is possible, because the added value of transport takes place in the trailer – it offers huge potential.” Haßheider admitted that the focus is currently on the tractor unit, but he is open to new approaches from the trailer industry that enable more climate protection. According to Markus Schell, there are many of these. “Just one example: when loading goods onto the railway, the trailer could pick up electricity from the overhead lines and pass it on to the trucks. This would make use of the existing infrastructure. Such cross-technology concepts alone harbour many more ideas.”
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