In the commercial vehicle sector, the shapes, sizes and weights of the larger vans, buses and trucks that circulate on Europe’s roads are clearly defined and regulated.
The core regulation behind the determination of commercial vehicle size is the EU Directive 96/53/EC, which sets down the characteristics that permit these vehicles to be matriculated and to operate within and between EU member states.
Commercial vehicles come in all imaginable shapes and sizes, fulfilling myriad and diverse functions across the economy in both urban and rural applications. In order for manufacturers, trailer and body builders to develop vehicles that are optimised for their functions, they must enjoy some measure of flexibility in vehicle weight and dimension requirements. Presently, the rules governing weights and dimensions are fairly strict, but fail to take into account whether alternatively-shaped vehicles would meet the performance-based standards expected of road going commercial vehicles.
Revising the permitted weights and dimensions of vehicles, as is currently being undertaken, has the potential to revolutionise their design. This could have vast benefits from environmental, user comfort and road safety perspectives.
It is important that freight transport be able to do its part to meet society’s energy efficiency and safety needs, as well as providing the goods and services that keep the economy ticking over, and the industry hopes that policy makers will provide the tools for it to achieve those objectives.