New rules just passed through the European parliament could well mean the current flat fronted box shaped cab over could disappear from European truck brands. The changes to the EU Weights and Dimensions Directive allow truck manufacturers to use new designs for trucks, which may exceed current weight and length limits, if they improve overall environmental and safety performance.
The implications of this new regulation, expected to come into force by 2022, is the introduction of aerodynamic noses onto the front of existing truck designs. These extension will also act as crumple zones to improve safety outcomes, both for the truck, and other people or vehicles involved in a collision.
The implications for the Australian truck market are clear. A large proportion of the trucks on our roads originate in Europe and the ADR rules adopted by the federal government often follow European regulation guidelines. New rules in Europe will mean new truck shapes for Australia and revised regulations to accommodate the latest thinking.
According to the EU, we can expect to see more rounded cabs to increase the driver’s field of vision making it easier to see vulnerable road users, such as cyclists, at the same time as reducing the drag coefficient. The designs will introduce a deflective shape to reduce the impact of collision.
An additional weight allowance (up to 1 tonne) for alternative fuel power trains and engines is expected encourage take-up of greener technologies. An increased use of technologies like boat tails on the rear of trailers with a consequent reduction in fuel consumption and emissions is also expected.
The new rules may well force European truck makers to rethink overall prime mover design. Setting forward the front axle is a likely solution to overhang and weight distribution issues but will create driver access issues similar to those seen in North American cabovers.
On the bright side, the changes may make it possible to increase European cab interior dimensions. A bigger bunk is something which will play well for the Australian truck buyer.