4th DEKRA Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference in Berlin
At the 4th DEKRA Future Congress Commercial Vehicles on June 2 and 3, 2022 in Berlin, experts and practitioners from politics, industry, research and the transport sector discussed the potential of innovative technologies related to the commercial vehicle of tomorrow. The presentations and panel discussions focused in particular on topics such as active safety, CO2 reduction, automation, digitalization, cyber security, telematics and concepts for the last mile.
Even in times of interrupted supply chains and difficulties with material procurement, one thing is quite clear: the backbone of economies and societies worldwide is the transportation of goods from one place to another. This transportation will continue to be important and necessary in the future. What makes it “future-proof” and where at the same time there is the greatest need for action for further optimization in terms of efficiency, climate and transport safety were discussed over two days by renowned speakers from politics, business and science at the 4th DEKRA Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference in Berlin in front of around 300 guests. The event should have taken place at the end of November 2021. However, due to the pandemic, it had to be cancelled and rescheduled like many other events of this magnitude.
With its fourth edition, the DEKRA Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference has once again underpinned its position as the central platform for the entire transport and logistics industry. Held for the first time in this form in 2015, it has evolved from traditional event series organized by DEKRA and the ETM publishing house. It bundles all the topics that move the various interest groups and stakeholders around the commercial vehicle. This year, the program was entitled "future-proof transportation" and was divided into three thematic strands, some of which ran in parallel: Commercial Vehicle Technology, Digitalization and Last Mile.
“This industry platform is about sharing experiences, laying opinions side by side, and formulating and classifying expectations,” said Jann Fehlauer in welcoming the guests. With regard to tomorrow's road freight transport, the Managing Director of DEKRA Automobil GmbH sees three main criteria as crucial: “The freight transport of the future must be safe, efficient and sustainable – along the entire value chain from the primary raw material to the high-quality industrial product, from the product designer to the end user.”
Driving forward technology change in a targeted manner
A central focus at the DEKRA Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference was the reduction of CO2 emissions. According to the Federal Climate Protection Act, greenhouse gas emissions from road transport must be reduced to a maximum of 85 million tons of CO2 by 2030 – in 2020, the figure was 146 million tons, according to the Federal Environment Agency's climate balance sheet. “In view of the further increase in traffic volume, this target is a major challenge for all players involved,” emphasized Oliver Luksic, Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport, in his keynote address. The necessary technology change to alternative drives is being given a massive boost by policymakers through funding programs totaling 1.6 billion euros by 2024. At the same time, transport companies could also compensate for the costs associated with the changeover to a not inconsiderable extent over the longer service life of a truck – the keyword being total cost of ownership. In Luksic's view, there is also an urgent need to expand the charging infrastructure. A decisive role in the transformation will also be played by the toll. In 2023, a CO2-dependent toll with a wider spread is to be launched, thereby reducing the burden on lower-emission vehicles.
For his part, Thomas Fabian, Commercial Vehicles Director of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), made it clear: “There is no alternative to decarbonizing road freight transport.” He added that manufacturers are already offering alternative drive concepts for this purpose and are consistently expanding their portfolios. “In order to increase the sales figures of trucks with alternative drive systems and at the same time lower the prices for the vehicles, the tightening of CO2 fleet limits is the right way to go,” Stef Cornelis, director of Transport & Environment Germany, pointed out. Frank Huster, Managing Director at DSLV Bundesverband Spedition und Logistik (German Freight Forwarders and Logistics Association), would like to see even more financial incentives for the transport industry to make the switch and also even more planning security.
Speakers at the Conference presented numerous strategies relating to climate protection, the reduction of CO2 emissions and electromobility. In this context, Winfried Gründler, Senior Vice President of ZF Friedrichshafen AG, and Andreas Wimmer, Vice President of Knorr-Bremse Systeme für Nutzfahrzeuge GmbH, focused in particular on the opportunities for suppliers arising from the electrification, automation and digitization of commercial vehicles for their own product portfolios.
More safety through driver assistance systems
The congress also dealt intensively with the safety of commercial vehicles. As Prof. Dr. Walter Eichendorf, President of the German Road Safety Council (DVR), explained, it is true that goods road transport vehicles are only involved in about five percent of accidents with personal injury. “But when collisions do occur, they not infrequently end in serious or fatal injuries for passenger car drivers, who are the most frequent opponents in accidents, and especially for vulnerable road users such as cyclists or pedestrians.” According to Eichendorf, driver assistance systems such as the Emergency Brake Assist, the Turning Assistant or the Reversing Assistant are indispensable in order to counteract this situation in the long term and to relieve professional drivers, especially in complex traffic situations. This is all the more true in view of the fact that the EU wants to reduce the number of traffic fatalities to zero by 2050.
In order to leverage the safety potential of assistance systems and automated functions, however, there is one indispensable prerequisite, according to DEKRA Managing Director Jann Fehlauer: “The electronic systems must function reliably and safely, and permanently throughout the entire life cycle of the vehicle.” To ensure this, he said, the right processes and methods are needed for the vehicle testing of the future. “In our view, it is crucial that inspection organizations have clearly regulated, non-discriminatory access to the original safety and environmentally relevant data from the vehicle.” In this regard, DEKRA advocates a data trustee model, according to which the data that the vehicle sends to the manufacturer is stored in parallel in a trust center, which provides the respective stakeholders with the data excerpts relevant to their tasks according to legally regulated roles and rights.
Speaking of safety: Due to pandemic delays, Kay Morschheuser, the former long-standing head of commercial vehicle accident analyses and safety strategies at Daimler, and Joachim Werner, a long-standing Iveco engineer, were also presented with the European Commercial Vehicle Safety Award, which they will receive in 2020 and 2021 respectively. The prize has been awarded annually since 1990 by the European Association for Accident Research and Analysis (EVU) together with DEKRA and the DVR. According to EVU President Jörg Ahlgrimm, the development of safety systems such as emergency braking or turn-off assistants has been influenced to a very significant extent by the findings of accident research carried out by Kay Morschheuser and his team. Joachim Werner received the award for his numerous contributions to active and passive safety as well as to the sustainability of medium and heavy trucks.
Added value through intelligent telematics
At the 4th DEKRA Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference, the experts and practitioners from industry and research also took a close look at the status as well as further developments in the field of digitalization. The focus was on questions such as: How can telematics increase efficiency? How does it pay off? How can transport companies and logistics experts find the right system for their specific requirements profile? And: What role do uniform standards play, or what role should they play? Last but not least, the topic of cyber security was omnipresent in Berlin. After all, the desired increase in efficiency can only really be achieved if the data is secure and protected against attacks. On the last mile, efficiency through digitization is also an issue. Here, too, the Future Congress presented promising solutions.