Innovative technology in commercial vehicles offers enormous potential for reducing carbon emissions, for automation and for safety. The forecast: trucks and excavators will change more over the next ten years than they have in the last 50.
Electrical drive systems
The giants of the road are still running on fossil fuels, but electrification of their drive systems has long been underway: the first all-electric light commercial vehicles are already driving. Light hybrid trucks and excavators combine diesel and electric motors. And in a few years, long routes for heavy-haul transport may be driven on “e-highways” with electric overhead contact lines.
The navigation data is used in a similarly clever way: trucks send their GPS route data to the engine control system, which can use the data to select the most efficient rpm. And excavators can even be programmed accurately to the meter for the position and depth of the hole to be dug.
In the future, fleet operators that digitally link all of this data in one big data cloud will gain perfect control, which saves energy, time and costs. In a further step, cars will also “talk” directly to each other and will be able to warn automatically of things like hazardous situations.
Lightweight construction continues to be a huge topic. High-strength and ultra-high-strength steels as well as other materials such as aluminum will continue to reduce vehicle weight. This involves not only mounts for trucks but also for cranes, cement mixers and other construction vehicles. The result: higher transport performance, greater efficiency and lower fuel consumption.
Continuous evolution can also be expected in safety. Because excavators and cranes present the greatest risk of tipping over, their safety cabins are constructed from special sections. And for more active safety, trucks and buses are already being equipped with many new automatic driving assistance systems.
In the future, these systems will be digitally linked and completed automated. Trucks can then travel without being driven – which saves fuel, avoids accidents and allows the driver to rest. Autonomous driving should be ready for the market by 2020, but before that happens, policymakers and the public will have to discuss liability in accidents.
The takeaway: the commercial vehicle sector is becoming increasingly innovative, clean and connected. Technological solutions are available or at least relatively highly developed, but are adopted more slowly than is the case with cars, since initial investment costs are much higher.