Reports 12 May 2009

Study: Long-term climate impacts of the introduction of megatrucks

This new study published by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research reveals how introducing longer and heavier trucks on European roads would cause far more environmental damage than previously expected. The results of model simulations show that the use of megatrucks across the EU cannot be considered a suitable instrument to lower the environmental impact of transport: megatrucks would replace up to 30% of high-value and container transport volumes on rail. They would also produce an additional 2 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

The study finds strong evidence that the introduction of megatrucks would lead to negative impacts within 5 to 10 years that would far outweigh any initial positive effects. It is estimated that in the high-value goods and container transport markets, up to 30% of rail freight transport could be shifted back onto the roads. The research team also warns that the slump in some parts of the combined rail and road freight transport market may be as high as 85%. The report concludes that longer and heavier road freight vehicles should be rejected, not least because of their effect on climate protection policy. The modal shift effects would run counter to the EU’s CO2 reduction targets with an additional 2 million tonnes of CO2 produced each year if megatrucks were introduced.

The study ”Long-Term Climate Impacts of the Introduction of Megatrucks” was commissioned by CER and coordinated by Dr Claus Doll from the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research in Karlsruhe (Germany), between May and July 2008. Further partners in the study were Trasporti e Territorio (TRT) from Milan (Italy), Nouveaux Espaces de Transport en Europe – Applications de Recherche (NESTEAR) from Gentilly (France), the Fraunhofer-Center for Applied Research on Technologies for the Logistics Service Industries (ATL) in Nuremberg (Germany), and the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML) in Dortmund (Germany). The coordinating Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) investigates how technical and organisational innovations shape industry and society today and in the future. A trademark of the systemic approach is the integration of research disciplines and the construction of a network for innovations, together with clients and interested parties. With its expertise, experience and reports, ISI as one of the application-oriented research institutes in the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft makes a contribution towards strengthening European competitiveness.