As the European Commission prepares its transport white paper toward legislation for the industry over the next decade, the Association for Finished Vehicle Carriers (ECG) has called for regulation that will secure a common loaded length for finished vehicle transporters at 20.75 metres (68ft).
Speaking at the recently-held European Commission High-level Conference on the Future of Transport, ECG president Costantino Baldissara, reiterated that a common standard for loaded vehicle length was essential and could result in savings of up to €50 billion ($74 billion) for the sector.
Currently there is a lack of standardisation for loaded transporter dimensions across the European Union, ranging from 22 metres in the UK to 18.75 in some of the newer EU states. This is forcing carriers required to cross several states to seek a lowest common denominator for the amount of vehicles carried, according to the ECG, which is counter to the economic need in today’s climate for transporter’s to carry the maximum amount of vehicles of which they are capable. “It’s that last car that is making you the money; margins are that narrow these days,” Mark Morgan, ECG’s executive director, told Automotive Logistics.
The lack of standards has led to more transporters being used than are necessary, the ECG said, meaning that factors such as pollution, damages, noise, accident risk and congestion are all higher than they need to be. The ECG claims that the cost benefit of reducing those factors through more efficient loading could bring savings to the transport sector of €50 billion, based on calculations using data from Friends of the Earth.
“In a nutshell, it’s all about maximising efficiency in the loading, which you can’t do today because the EU has harmonised unloaded dimensions but not loaded,” said Morgan. For ordinary haulage, loaded and unloaded is exactly the same, but this is not the case for vehicle carriers which can vary according to vehicle placement.
The €50 billion in savings are available today without any need for new transporters said Morgan. “They are all capable of doing it, they’re just not allowed to because legislation is all over the place.”
Baldissara also used the conference to call for a dedicated freight rail infrastructure, an extension of scrappage to all modes of transport including old and substandard shipping, and greater concord of IT standards. He also repeated the point made at the ECG’s annual meeting in Rotterdam in November that the finished vehicle logistics industry was an integrated part of the automotive industry as a whole and needed to be recognised as such.
The conference, which was held in Brussels, aimed to identify the policy measures stakeholders would like to see in the next white paper on transport published by the European Commission covering 2010-2020. Attendees included those from the main European institutions, national transport authorities, industry associations, transport operators and other interest groups.
However, since the meeting, the European Commission has announced it has appointed a new commissioner for transport. Replacing Antonio Tajani, Siim Kallas has now assumed the role of vice president of transport and will oversee the drafting of new legislation, which Morgan said could slightly shift policy decisions because of differing political outlook. The white paper is expected to be complete by spring 2010 and ECG will continue to clarify the issues affecting finished vehicle carriers as the draft is completed said Morgan.