A European Union law agreed late on Wednesday (10 December) to make trucks safer and more aerodynamic, cutting fuel bills, emissions and improving safety, will be delayed by around five years, after the industry pushed for more time to develop new vehicles.
The law will allow trucks to have longer, more aerodynamic noses similar to the shape of high-speed trains from around 2019.
Until now new designs had been hampered by limits on the weight and size of vehicles.
Member states, led by France and Sweden, had originally pushed for a five-year moratorium on the new designs, which would have delayed their introduction to around 2024, because of the need to develop new safety requirements first.
Truck makers such as Sweden’s Volvo and France’s Renault had said the introduction of new cab sizes should be delayed to create a level playing field for all, pointing to the long life cycle of trucks.
However, the European Commission, which proposed the law, and the European Parliament wanted to allow the new cab designs as soon as possible, arguing that trucks’ brick-shaped cabs hamper drivers’ visibility, leading to cyclist and pedestrian deaths.
The compromise reached on Wednesday includes a three-year delay, although the Commission will first have to develop new safety requirements for lorries.
EU lawmakers and officials said the entire process would delay the introduction of the new lorries, originally expected around 2017, to about 2019.
“We did manage to force EU governments to agree to the introduction of a new and safer lorry-cab design, although only as of 2019,” said Keith Taylor, transport spokesman for the Greens in the European Parliament.
Volvo, for instance, began rolling out new designs in 2012, so it could be at a disadvantage if competitors introduce more up-to-date models in the near future.
Additionally, the new cab designs will no longer be mandatory, as the Parliament had demanded, merely voluntary.
Campaign group Transport & Environment said that delays would be at the expense of the economy because fuel bills would be higher, as well as road safety and the environment.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), however, said that an industry with long product cycles needed 10 years to develop the best designs.