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Aerodynamic and Flexible Trucks for Next Generation of Long Distance Road Transport

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - AEROFLEX (Aerodynamic and Flexible Trucks for Next Generation of Long Distance Road Transport)

Reporting period: 2020-04-01 to 2021-09-30

The transport sector contributes to about 25 % of total CO2 emissions in the EU and is the only sector where the trend is still increasing. Considering the growing demand and the ambitious targets, it is paramount to increase the efficiency of freight transport. Rethinking future freight transport by the optimization of multi-modal transport chains. It is essential to develop flexible and adaptable vehicles and loading units with optimized aerodynamics and powertrain for low emission and high efficiency. The optimal matching of novel vehicle concepts and infrastructures is crucial, requiring intelligent access policies for safe and efficient use of road infrastructures. The goal of the AEROFLEX project is to develop and demonstrate new technologies, new concepts, and new architectures for complete vehicles with optimized aerodynamics, powertrains, and safety systems as well as flexible and adaptable loading units with advanced interconnectedness contributing to the vision of a “physical internet”. The optimal matching of these concepts and infrastructures requiring the implementation of smart infrastructure access policies for a safe and efficient use of road infrastructure. The main innovations are: Characterize the European freight transport market for 2040 and develop new concepts and technologies resulting in adaptable trucks with a reduced drag, improved safety, comfort, cost efficiency and multimodal transport and demonstrate potential of truck aerodynamics and energy management improvements with associated impact assessments and drafting of recommendations for revising standards and legislative frameworks to allow the new aerodynamic and flexible vehicle concepts on the road and achieve an efficiency improvement up to 33 % in long haulage road transport. The AEROFLEX project is seen as key for the European road transport and logistics and has the full support from ACEA, EUCAR, ALICE, UIRR and IRU among other associations. This support is mobilized through the Sounding Board that includes key representatives from all stakeholders: industry, logistics, authorities, policymakers, and NGOs. This group of experts is seen as a main pillar for the project and over 70 members have applied, sharing, and working within the project. The main conclusions are: new vehicle concepts and new technologies developed within the AEROFLEX project do have a significant contribution to CO2 reduction objectives and to increase efficiency in road transport in a multi-modal context. It can be stated that the overall AEROFLEX goal, an efficiency improvement in long haul freight road transport up to 33% is achievable under the given recommendations enabling the implementation of AEROFLEX innovations during the period 2025-2030.
Activities are divided into 2 different types of activities. The “horizontal” activities relate to generic and collaborative activities that are key to developing synergies through the project. The “vertical” type activities relate to specific innovation, development, and demonstration activities. The developments on Energy management, Aerodynamics, Smart loading units, and front-end design for safety all feeding into the demonstration and validation phase. The European transport sector contributes to about 25% of the total CO2 emissions in Europe. The demand for transport of freight will increase by app. 45% by 2040! The growth for the different modes is app. rail by about 43 %, road by about 55 % and IWW by about 19 %. The cost for transport (2019, including external cost in ct/ton-km) for road is 4.47 2.03 for rail and 2.00 for inland navigation. The main cost contributions for road transport are the climate impact and accidents representing with over 50%. The pre and post related processes represent for all three transport means a significant cost level up to 1ct/ton-km(20-25% for road and 50% for rail & inland navigation). It should be stated that the cost for rail transport is only valid for an electric mix out of pure green electricity. The cost of running trucks for road transport are expressed in the total cost of ownership. The TCO of a long-haul fleet of 100 vehicles over a period of 48 months exceed the 35MEUR. Driver wages and fuel (indirectly CO2 emissions) are representing >66%. New technologies and innovations may increase the purchase price of the vehicles but should reduce running cost, by reducing number of vehicles km, energy & emissions, and improving road safety for driver, occupants and VRU. A paradigm shift is needed to cope with these challenges. AEROFLEX focused on the vision of “The Physical Internet”. This includes the optimization of multimodal transport chains by drawing on the advantages of the different modes. From these figures, it became obvious that the focus of AEROFLEX is to reduce CO2 emissions, the impact on climate, road accidents, TCO and pre & post related processes by transporting the same freight. An overall goal is an efficiency improvement in long haul road transport up to 33%. The main results are a focus on long-haul freight road transport, the logistics within the long haul high-capacity freight transport using the European Modular System and vehicle configurations, the most optimal balance of weight & volume, the flexibility in the art of transport and the adaptability in size of loading units. The AEROFLEX innovations developed are incorporated in 2 demonstrators, running a vast test and use case program to demonstrate the proof of concept and their impact. Part of the demonstration program was an in depth collaboration with multimodal transport operators, running the AEROFLEX trailer on rail using the CFL rail corridor through France. In line with the latest developments, digitalization, and roadmap 2Zero, incl. the ability to use AEROFLEX innovations in zero emission vehicle powertrain.
AEROFLEX develops technologies and standards for multimodal transport in Europe and assesses the impact, to deliver cleaner, safer, and more efficient road transport. Technologies are developed for vehicles up to 44t GCW. An analysis is performed for EMS1 and EMS2 vehicles up to 74t GCW also for regional areas. The technologies, systems, vehicle concepts and future freight demands can be mapped, to prepare logistics service providers and carriers for multimodal transport. Modelling of freight market scenarios and the impact assessment methodology include scenario assessments on new vehicle concepts and systems, including market potential and outlook, and the definition of recommendations for a future regulatory framework. Smart infrastructure access policies are a must. To maximize the societal impact and efficiency in logistics of freight in a multi modal context it is essential to implement: Performance Based Standards for the safe and efficient use of the vehicles and Intelligent Access Policies for the safe and efficient use of the multi modal infrastructure. The Aeroflex project is convinced to prove improvements of 30% and more by significant improved survivability for VRU. The project launched a news bulletin, publishing the roadmap how to implement the AEROFLEX innovations on a European scale. Members of the Task Force represented all relevant stakeholders from industry, logistics, policies, authorities, and providers. It was acknowledged that the discussion around the review of the legislative framework and the introduction of access policies to infrastructure must be continued.
Overall concept, project delineation, major outcome and anticipated roadmap to implementation