Cost or value? Road transport, a story between sentences and false myths

30 Aug, 2022

On the roads the sequence of trucks goes to the horizon and beyond, while the road transport industry is caught between the cost of the energy and the increase in raw materials costs, a thought goes to the pollution produced. 
Irreconcilable position? That’s for sure, you can’t totally give up on road transport. 
What are we waiting for?
We have to clear the terms of this situation, be careful about words, avoiding to show transport solution as something that can replace totally the road one.  “There’s no contrast among rail, sea and road transport”. Let’s start with some considerations made by Antonio Torello – Chief Technical Officer.

Sustainability. The right story is from three points of view

With the term sustainability even if we refer almost always to the enviroment as responsibility in using resourches, it has to be fully intended in three aspects: economic, social and enviromental ones
Starting from the enviromental and the implication that has in our sector. There’s an obvious problem of narration that is born from a total sentence against road transport.
People push so hard on intermodal and multimodality – why using road transport when I can save some money? – and that’s right, but not always it is the right solution for everything”.

We want to remind you that with multimodality we define a transport with two different modalities, while intermodality is a multimodal transport with a unique container, without intermediate reloading.

Yes, because when we talk about interodality, reffering just to boat, rail or airplane, between the lines you tend to discredit road transport, which is necessary for the last mile (think about food). Doesn’t it make more sense exploiting the qualities of the various modalities as right combination of carriers in which road transport is still necessary?”

A combination of carriers that couldn’t take into account the type of good transported. What do we do with fresh and extra fresh?

Fresh, extra fresh. Compatibility with intermodal.

Let’s think about the type of goods with strict shelf-life that hardly reach destination in time. How much time would these goods take on a train?
It is not conceivable that some perishable goods go on train because today intermodality is not so competitive as road transport about the so-called lead-time. This calls into question infrastructures, vehicles and technology in general”.

Thinking about infrastructures 

Not all the airports have good rail connections or not all of them can satisfy the needs of the surrounding areas.
If sustainability has to be workable you need to have infrastructures.
In addition, the presence of infrastructures, that makes workable the enviromental sustainability, has positive impact even on the social side. If I decide to do intermodal in a structured way it means that I’m spreading wealth (railways, interports, road transport…) taking into account the circularity of economy, where at the heart of it there is the person. But companies can’t do everything all alone”.

So the need to involve public decision makers for 360° investment.

Thinking about vehicles and innovation

When it comes to transport, everything is not the same, there’s a transport that tend to sustainability and it’s more virtuous and another less virtuous.
When I go on the road I’m surely releasing polluting emission but not as much as an old class of vehicle emission. We have a fleet composed almost totally by Euro 5 and 6 cars and we push for a vehicle upgrade to be aligned to the law that contains the emission level whithin which we should be. We need to explain better the logistic how it works, be careful about the narration about road transport. It is not useful for anybody demonising road transport and diesel, it’s important to do so for old vehicles that are bad for the enviroment, for new vehicles we need to do a different discourse”.

It concerns techologies and innovation that surely have to be improved from which it will possible to obtain reports and make corrections. And about hybrid vehicles with natural gas liquefied petroleum (GNL or LNG), are they really offering a more ecological alternative instead of diesel?
The enviromental association Transport & Enviroment (T&E) has charged the Univeristy of Techology in Graz to compare a LNG truck with the one with diesel. So, the test on road and real condition talk about superior emission than the one made with the diesel one.”

Only zero emission vehicles can decarbonise road transport.

The State needs to restore competitiveness to the system

Then there’s the alternative energy, especially during period like this one with an energetic crisis, taking into account that one thing is to talk about alternative energy in the customers’ field, another one is to talk about it at an industrial level.
The feasibility? “The economic sustainability for the electric and methane has been missing but would Italy allow the recharge of thousands of vehicles? We need to give all Europe enough charger network”. 
From 2035 vehicles with fossil fuel will not be produced. 
EU Member States have said yes, in 13 years they will stop selling new vehicles with fossil fuel. Meanwhile, since the assistance decree came into force, the carbon tax which the transport was receiving was suspended. Isn’t it a paradox to remove Carbon Tax? Isn’t it a contradiction to push towards green and remove an important incentive to the ones who invest into low emission transport?

Meanwhile, transport companies work by themselves to find sustainable solutions.

Another legitimate doubt, how is it possible that they gave us a patent that involves diesel techology if vehicles with diesel are not sustainable? We have obtained the patent and our techology are trucks and diesel! So, there are sustainable transport and not. We need to give more credit to sustainable one, regardless the modality, not exchanging sustainability with greenwashing – a risk for everybody  – awarding companies that feel the responsibility and make them knowledgeable that if they put in place there’s an economic return. I hope I have give you some, well, sustainable thought!

We’re facing a series of choices for the public decision makers that if they’re taken in the context of a national policy, they can influence positively the private enterprises, making them stronger and more competitive. Let’s not forget that the deadline, even for transport and logistic companies, is profit.