Volkswagen Truck & Bus have presented pioneering technology and products that will transform the entire logistics chain in a sustainable way, during an Innovation Day in Hamburg.
The Group, which includes brands such as MAN, Scania, Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus, and RIO, is focusing on three trend-setting fields, namely automated driving, connectivity, and alternative drive systems that are friendly to the environment.
Automated driving: greater safety and fewer emissions
MAN and Scania platoons are being tested across the whole of Europe. In this respect, the concept of platooning describes a convoy of connected trucks that partly run autonomously, with the driver of the lead vehicle determining the route and the speed. Fuel consumption on the highways is significantly reduced thanks to slipstream driving There is a lower risk of accidents and drivers of the vehicles behind the lead truck have time to perform other activities, while still being able to take control of their own vehicle at any time. Working in cooperation with DB Schenker, MAN will start testing the first platoons on the digital test track on the A9 highway between Munich and Nuremberg in spring 2018. Scania is involved in a platooning project in Singapore, where the plan is to have platoons run on public roads between two port terminals.
Fully autonomous Scania vehicles are ready to be used in mines, while the first commercial vehicle will be shipped to its owner within the next few weeks. Henrik Henriksson, CEO of Scania: “We always aim to offer customers the best possible solution for their specific transportation needs and to make them more profitable. Using new technology makes it possible to come up with even better solutions. Autonomous trucks are the perfect solution for segregated areas, since they offer extra safety and efficiency.”
In cooperation with seven partners from industry, research, and administration, MAN, too, has demonstrated how far the technology of automated driving has evolved with the impressive BMWI-subsidised research project “aFAS”. The latter involves a driverless MAN truck driving autonomously as a safety vehicle for mobile road maintenance works for the first time in German history.
Digitisation paves the way
RIO, the open cloud-based platform of the Volkswagen Truck & Bus Group, connects all players across the value creation chain. Algorithms will process the data that has emerged as a result of countless process steps in real time, serving as the basis for making better decisions. The RIO platform and digital RIO services will be available before the end of this year. Tests are currently being carried out with 20 MAN customers with mixed fleets, including Volkswagen’s Group Logistics service providers.
Alternative drive systems for every situation
Volkswagen Truck & Bus is also working on electric solutions for use in both medium- and heavy-duty distribution transport and city buses. It will soon have a complete range of electric vehicles for the European market. The jointly developed e-drivetrain will form the basis of any electric architecture in the future. This electric powertrain is designed in a way that means that it can be used to drive future distribution trucks and city buses manufactured by the Volkswagen Truck & Bus brands as a universal modular element.
Navistar, Volkswagen’s strategic partner in the US, will also use the platform to be able to offer electric distribution trucks from 2019 onwards. MAN is already well on its way to developing an electric distribution truck. “We plan to deliver the first nine fully electric trucks to our customers in Austria by the end of 2017 – including large supermarket chains, breweries and haulers. Electric drives and distribution are a match made in heaven: The drives are quiet, do not produce any emissions locally, and are a perfect fit for customers’ requirements. Equally, demand for these types of vehicles has been on the rise. We will be launching the first small set of vehicles on the market at the end of 2018,” Joachim Drees, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus, explained.