European Truck Industry Refuses To Adopt Safer, Cleaner, Cheaper Designs Soon In Order To Preserve 'Competitive Neutrality'

from the lobbying-before-lives dept

When it comes to industries perversely refusing to accept changes that would be good for both them and their customers, it’s usually the music or film companies that are involved. But over in Europe, the same story is playing out in the world of trucks — or “lorries” as they’re known locally. The site Transport & Environment explains the situation:

Current rules on weights and dimensions of lorries indirectly restrict the length of cabins to 2.35m, which explains why European lorries have such blunt cabin fronts. Longer and rounder cabins can save hundreds of lives and billions of litres of diesel per year.

That’s because more rounded designs bring with them better visibility and less air resistance. Recognizing those advantages, the European Parliament voted to allow manufacturers to adopt the new rules if they wished, but without forcing them to do so if they didn’t — which sounds fair enough. But not according to the companies involved. As another post on the Transport & Environment blog explains:

the industry grudgingly conceded that while in principle flexibility to make better cabins isn’t a bad thing, in this case new designs should be prohibited until at least 2025. The reason for this rather odd position? To maintain ‘competitive neutrality’ — suppose one manufacturer would have better designs on the shelves and another not, wouldn’t that be terribly unfair?

Unfortunately, good old local protectionism from countries with major truck manufacturers means that this ridiculous view is likely to prevail:

Under Franco-Swedish pressure, ministers regrettably agreed to ban the introduction of safer and cleaner lorry cabs from Europe’s roads for at least eight years.

The new designs would have been great news for the huge number of European companies using trucks: Transport & Environment estimates that the new designs would save their owners around €3,000 annually. Even more importantly, many of the 4,200 deaths caused by trucks every year in Europe could have been avoided because of better sightlines and enhanced safety features.

But while no law is too repressive, or expense too great, when it comes to fighting terrorism — even though just 17 people died in Europe as a result of terrorist attacks in 2012 — it seems some EU politicians are unwilling to push through a simple change in regulations that could not only save many more than 17 lives each year, but which would also reduce pollution and produce savings for numerous European companies as well. Such is the insane power of the lobbyists in Europe (as elsewhere), who care only for their clients, not for the lives of citizens.

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Comments on “European Truck Industry Refuses To Adopt Safer, Cleaner, Cheaper Designs Soon In Order To Preserve 'Competitive Neutrality'”

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28 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Under Franco-Swedish pressure, ministers regrettably agreed to ban the introduction of safer and cleaner lorry cabs from Europe’s roads for at least eight years.

‘Regrettably’, right, I’m sure they were just filled to the brim with ‘regret’ all the way to the bank to cash those fat checks they received to shut down even the possibility of companies getting an ‘unfair’ advantage by purchasing more fuel efficient and safer trucks. /s

I hope they at least didn’t sell their dignity and respect for the people lightly, if they’re going to sell out the public, the least they can do is make it expensive to the one(s) buying them.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

A previous comment of mine seems to fit here:

‘When you buy the laws to make sure no company can come in and disrupt the gravy train, any competition is ‘unfair competition’.’

They ‘understand’ it quite well, in particular, they ‘understand’ that it’s cheaper to pay off the politicians so they don’t have to compete, than actually compete.

Likewise, the politicians that sold out the public here ‘understand’ that ‘disrupting’ things by allowing safer, more fuel efficient trucks to be used is likely to result in decreased ‘donations’ to their coffers from the affected companies who find themselves in the position of keeping up or losing customers.

Whatever says:

Why

There are reasons why trucks like this are preferred. Generally, European cities do not have very much space, and the often tight and winding roads would mean that a longer nose truck would have to have a shorter cargo area to assure they didn’t get stuck.

It’s the same reason why much of Europe uses curtain side trailers rather than hard side trailers, as many places don’t have American style loading docks or the space to unload from the back of the trailer alone.

As for sightlines, cab over trucks (european style) have much better site lines than conventional trucks, as conventionals have a pretty big blind spot on the front passenger corner, and all the space right in front of the truck.

It should also be noted that while commercial trucks represent a significant amount of miles driven, they only account for 10% of fatal accidents.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Why

There are reasons why trucks like this are preferred.

Then let those reasons play out in the marketplace rather than banning new designs for protectionism. If the manufacturers were really confident that their current designs are the best possible ones, they wouldn’t be concerned about competition from new designs.

Sorry, you have not successfully shit on the article!

Case says:

Re: Re: Why

“Protectionism” implies that something would enter the market if the blockade was lifted. For reasons already mentioned, this is more akin to banning perpetual motion machines — stupid regulation bloat, but nobody is really affected.

There are plenty of examples for actualEuropean protectionism if you need something to get mad at, just look at the current hubbub around chlorine dioxide in chicken (which is apparently highly toxic, hence people drop like flies from eating salad while “organic” sprouts have never killed anyone). But this article is just getting red-faced at a completely pointless issue.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Why

“Protectionism” implies that something would enter the market if the blockade was lifted.

Like, say, more fuel efficient and safer trucks, causing ‘unfair’ competition if some companies adopt them while others don’t?

Yeah, this is a pretty solid example of protectionism, where improvements to the trucks were banned from being allowed to protect the current companies.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why

Assuming I’m reading your comment right, the only reason they ‘didn’t happen’ this time, was various companies lobbied hard to keep any other companies from even possibly adopting the new truck designs.

That’s pretty much protectionism in a nutshell, using political pressure to keep out any potential competition.

Case says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Why

Sheesh, how hard can it be?

There are reasons why trucks like this are preferred. Generally, European cities do not have very much space, and the often tight and winding roads would mean that a longer nose truck would have to have a shorter cargo area to assure they didn’t get stuck.

It’s the same reason why much of Europe uses curtain side trailers rather than hard side trailers, as many places don’t have American style loading docks or the space to unload from the back of the trailer alone.

As for sightlines, cab over trucks (european style) have much better site lines than conventional trucks, as conventionals have a pretty big blind spot on the front passenger corner, and all the space right in front of the truck.

It should also be noted that while commercial trucks represent a significant amount of miles driven, they only account for 10% of fatal accidents.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Why

So that explains why some companies might not want to make the switch, now explain why they needed to make absolutely sure no company could even possibly use/create the new models, without involving protectionism in the explanation.

If they really believed that the current trucks are the ideal for the roads they drive on, then they should have had no problem with new designs being introduced into the market, as the old ones would have been found to be better suited, and the new ones would have been quickly phased right back out because of it.

That’s not what happened though.

Instead, you had them insisting that if companies were allowed to adopt the new designs, they would somehow gain an ‘unfair’ advantage over the companies that weren’t using them, so even they are admitting that the new designs would have been better, hence their desire to make sure they weren’t allowed to be introduced.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Why

European cities do not have very much space, and the often tight and winding roads would mean that a longer nose truck would have to have a shorter cargo area to assure they didn’t get stuck

That really does sound like a politician.

1) There is a problem with the roads
2) The problem is going to be difficult to solve
3) Making people safer highlights the problem

screw safety.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Why

Many European cities were old before the American Continent was discovered, never mind the first European settlers. Building dating from the time of American revolution are quite modern by European standards. It is difficult to re-route and widen roads when there are a load of historic building in the way.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is proof that laws aren’t about safety and environmental protection but they’re more about incumbent protectionism.

No one is entitled to laws that prevent competitors from entering the market with a better design. Yet that’s what we have here. Laws that prevent competitors from entering the market with a different design not because that different design is unsafe or not environmentally friendly but only because that new design is better and the incumbent companies feel they are somehow entitled to have the government protect them from better competition. They’re not. This is an abuse of law.

These laws are ostensibly intended to prevent companies from building trucks with unsafe designs that are not environmentally friendly and yet they are doing the exact opposite. Why do we have them again?

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