Volvo Logistics has reported a 22% reduction in the CO2 emissions produced from its transport of goods between 2006 and 2010, including movements for the Volvo Car Corporation.
The reduction has been achieved by a combination of increased training in fuel-efficient driving amongst the trucking companies used by the Volvo Group in Europe. Drivers who had undergone theoretical and practical training in fuel-efficient driving increased to 74% in 2010 said the company. The results were also down to investment in newer and more efficient engines and better utilization of cargo space, enabling the transport of more goods at the same time.
“All of these factors have contributed to reducing total emissions of carbon dioxide per ton per kilometer from the Volvo Group’s transports, which usually take the form of trucks driven on highways, but also include marine and railway solutions,” said the company in a statement.
In Sweden, truck rigs that are 25.25 metres long are already used, thus making road transport more efficient compared with many other parts of Europe. But this week the Netherlands has also announced that it will allow double-trailer trucks up to 25 metres long and 60 tonnes in weight to operate across the Dutch road network. The Dutch government has now called on the European Commission and other member states to allow the so-called ‘gigaliners’ on their roads to allow cross-border transport.
The move to longer truck rigs, although not necessarily the gigaliner, has support from the European Association of Vehicle Logistics (ECG), which advocates a standard maximum length of 20.75 metres for car carriers in the EU against the disparity of lengths currently characterizing the region. However the association points out that, unlike implementing a Europe-wide 25 metres-standard, harmonisation across 20.75 metres would not require changes to the current infrastructure. “We don’t want a longer truck, but we want to have the same length. This is an important distinction,” said Costantino Baldissara, the association's president.
The ECG estimates that a 20.75 metres standard, which would be above the 18.75 metres allowed in several countries, including Germany, would reduce external costs by €30m, and eliminate about 100,000 loads per year to move the same number of vehicles.

“The current variation in truck sizes is really a terrible distortion of competition,” said Costantino Baldissara, the association's president. “If member countries are equal and make up one internal market, then why should it be different between Italy and Germany?”

The push for longer truck lengths is far from universal in Europe, however. The rail lobbies tend to point out that, far from decreasing emissions, longer trucks tend to increase road congestion. Philippa Edmunds, of lobby group Freight on Rail, which has long been campaigning against the introduction of gigaliners on UK roads, told the IFW: “Previous increases in lorry dimensions have resulted in more lorries driving around less full, causing more road congestion and more pollution–the reverse of what was claimed would happen.” 
But for several Nordic countries, the longer truck lengths are common, and Volvo points to them as a factor in lowering its emissions. Volvo Logistics even uses rigs longer than 25.25 metres, though these are restricted to movements between its terminal and harbour in around Gothenburg. The 32-metre trailers are able to transport two 40-foot containers instead of one, thus reducing emissions of carbon dioxide per ton per kilometer.
According to Volvo Logistics, the next step could involve the use of a 48-metre long rig that can transport up to three 40-foot containers, which would further reduce CO2 emissions.
The Volvo Group has also reduced its carbon dioxide emissions in Europe by using train solutions to supplement truck transportation Volvo’s Viking Rail, a train concept launched by Volvo Logistics in 2008 for cargo between Germany and Sweden, enables trailers to be loaded on low-floor goods wagons in southern Germany, connecting the wagons to complete train sets in northern Germany and then driving the trains to Gothenburg, where the cargo is reloaded and transported by truck to the final destination. 
“In most cases, road transportation is the only efficient alternative, which is why we are cooperating with our trucking companies in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of transportation,” said Susanna Hambeson, environmental manager at Volvo Logistics.
“We are also aiming to find more ways of integrating road, rail and marine solutions. Our objective is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from our transportation in Europe by 30% by 2015, with 2006 as the base year,” she added.