Newly proposed European Union regulations affecting the length of semi-trailer trucks and cabs are set to have a dramatic effect on European flat-front cabover truck designs and will also allow for folding aerodynamic aids to be fitted to the rear of trailers, reports the Society of Automotive (SAE) in its newsletter.
Under the new proposal, backed by EU Transport Ministers in June, new, more rounded truck designs will become mandatory in 2022 and will be a voluntary requirement in the meantime. The European Parliament wanted the new designs to be mandatory sooner and may still press for earlier implementation.
The revised regulations do not mean a shift to U.S.-style conventional truck cabs, however.
The proposals will allow for a cab extended forward to accommodate a more rounded front for improved aerodynamics. According to information published by the EU, the new design will improve aerodynamic flow by 12%, which is expected to yield fuel consumption savings of between 3-5% for long-haul trucks. For a truck covering 100,000 km (62,140 mi) per year, it is estimated that this would reduce fuel costs by approximately €5,000 per year.
The revisions are also designed to accommodate a larger windscreen to reduce blind spots around the cab. The cab changes will provide more interior space, which could provide more work and rest space for drivers.
The proposal also includes an increase in gross vehicle weight of 1000 kg (2205 lb). This is designed to make an allowance for fitting an alternative fuel or hybrid drivetrain, without impacting the vehicle’s payload.
The proposals have been given a cool reception from ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, which has been keen to avoid mandatory changes.
ACEA has commented, “Should it become mandatory to redesign truck fronts in order to improve their fuel-efficiency performance, the lead time granted to the industry must reflect the complexity and expense of this exercise, bearing in mind that trucks are very complex to design and are also produced in small volumes. This lead-time should respect the product lifecycle for a new truck, which is on average 10-15 years. This means that manufacturers need to know about a new regulatory framework several years before its implementation.”