Energy efficiency and transport equipment manufacturers

Energy efficiency and transport equipment manufacturers
© Bruno Takahashi Carvalhas de Oliveira

At IDTechEx, hosted in Berlin, Germany, GEQ heard Dr Françoise Savoye, director of the energy efficiency strategy at Renault Trucks, discuss how the company is looking to make their HDV’s more energy efficient.

With lorries, buses and coaches – collectively known as heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) – producing approximately a quarter of the CO2 emissions from road transport in the EU, as well as around 5% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, the European Commission has urged action in transport to improve energy efficiency reduce emissions. If trends continue and no policy action is taken, predictions suggest that emissions from HDVs could increase by up to 10% between 2010 and 2030.

As a result, the European Commission has taken several measures:

  • The Vehicle Energy Consumption Tool (VECTO), which uses computer simulation to measure CO2 emissions from new lorries above 7.5 tonnes;
  • A regulation on the determination of CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of new lorries above 7.5 tonnes, which utilises the VECTO certification regulation; and
  • A legislative proposal for monitoring and reporting of emissions and fuel consumption, as part of the ‘Europe on the Move’ package.

As a subsidiary of the Volvo group, Renault Trucks provide commercial vehicle users with a vast range of innovative services and vehicles, starting at 2.8 tonnes and reaching 120 tonnes. These vehicles are used to conduct a wide range of transport activities, such as distribution, construction, heavy construction and long distance. Offering low fuel consumption, Renault Trucks aim to provide reliable vehicles which deliver greater productivity and control.

At April’s IDTechEx event, hosted in Berlin, Germany, Dr Françoise Savoye, director of the energy efficiency strategy at Renault Trucks, discussed how the company is looking to make their HDV’s more energy efficient.

A daily challenge

Reducing CO2 emissions, improving air quality, and sourcing alternatives to depleting resources are all integral in adhering to climate agreements. As a result, these objectives are embedded into the daily challenges of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). With approximately 100,000 employees in the world, the Volvo Group has a presence in excess of 190 countries and production facilities in 19 countries. Renault Trucks focuses on producing trucks, buses, construction equipment and marine engines, with almost 10,000 employees dedicated to the brand, excluding a private sales network.

Dr Françoise Savoye began by highlighting the volume of sales that this represents: “Last year, Renault Trucks produced and sold 50,000 units of trucks.” With a clear mission to produce zero emission vehicles, Renault Trucks are currently working towards zero tailpipe emissions – no NOx and no particles – in efforts to improve air quality. “The second meaning of zero emission is heading towards zero CO2 emissions from a worldwide perspective; this is the case to fight global warming. Overall, this is the guidance for our deployments and activities.”

Decarbonising the future

Despite this, Savoye clarified that this does not mean that all trucks will be zero emission by 2020; instead, this trajectory guides Renault’s work, because it believes the ultimate transport solution are zero emission. “There is no one single solution that will replace diesel in all applications, in all regions, and tomorrow”, Savoye said.

“The priority is energy efficiency; long haul trucks have to be extremely energy efficient, and it’s clear today that these are quite [advanced] compared to any other engine technology.” As diesel remains amongst the most efficient technology, as well as the most suitable in fulfilling the needs of such applications, it has also made a depollution transition, despite its poor image.

Regulating the automotive industry and pollution

In 1992, the European Union imposed regulations on new cars in an effort to improve air quality. As a result, the Euro Emissions Standards provide a specification which all new cars have to meet. Subsequent to the introduction of this regulation, catalytic converters have become compulsory on new cars sold throughout the UK, whilst rest of Europe have recognised the need to decrease tailpipe emissions significantly.

To date, there are six Euro Emissions Standards which define acceptable limits for exhaust emissions for light duty vehicles. Savoye said: “Since the introduction of the Euro regulation, particle emissions are reduced by 97%, and NOx emissions have been reduced by 98%.” Despite the need for regulation, he furthered: “Commercial vehicle emissions are much more advanced than automotive emission standards. We now have a very complex technology on the vehicles, using particulate meters, urea injection, [and] catalysts.”

Taking the lead on tests for commercial vehicles

Since 2014, Renault Trucks has been including road tests in the certification process for commercial vehicles. As one of the commercial vehicle OEMs, Renault Trucks has the “obligation to guarantee the emissions of our trucks for seven years, or 700,000km.”

Even with this obligation and commitment, public authorities still have the ability to randomly tests vehicles from customers’ fleet, in order to verify that the emissions of Renault HDVs are complaint with Euro regulations. Savoye added: “Clearly, we have to pursue our efforts to further reduce emissions, and not only CO2 emissions, through fuel consumption reduction.”

Accelerating change: projects for emission reduction

Renault Trucks is currently working on a project which focuses on aerodynamics for better energy efficiency, where the trailer profile is shaped to the load, in order to be aerodynamic. However, there are also ongoing investigations into various aspects of the powertrain, which are optimised to reduce friction and to recover waste on the exhaust line.

Moreover, research and development into new technologies will enable new technologies for tyres, reducing resistance. Renault Trucks is also engaging in projects which seek to deliver connectivity and driver support, building for the commercial vehicles of the future and “to help the driver better participate in driving and, thus, reduce fuel consumption.” Savoye concluded: “With all these technologies, we’re targeting a 30% reduction, compared to the current diesel and serial trucks.”

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