Tackling urban congestion, improving air quality and the rise of online shopping will be some of the main factors that influence van design and technology in the years to come, according to Europe’s leading commercial vehicle journalists.
That’s the picture painted in a new white paper – The Evolution of the Light Commercial Vehicle in the Urban Environment – produced by the 25 journalists from across Europe who make up the International Van of the Year Jury and published last month.
The paper draws on the panel’s experience and industry insight to pull together a comprehensive overview of the factors they feel are most likely to influence the development of future vans and light commercials, not least the predicted growth of home parcel deliveries, which will compound congestion problems, and the greater integration of the driver within the global supply chain.
Many of the points raised in the report are not new. They have been discussed and reported at length before. But what makes the white paper particularly interesting is that its findings are those of journalists on the coal face, collating views from across the wide spectrum of the sector from driver to logistics operator..
The report finds:
- New solutions that make life easier and more streamlined for drivers will be incorporated into vehicle designs. The onus will be on vehicle manufacturers to anticipate the needs of drivers in future cities.
- Smart solutions such as vehicle telematics, parcel tracking and load-logging technology will be embedded in van design. This will allow vans and drivers to be better interconnected with data ecosystems that stretch from end-to-end of supply chains.
- Innovations in autonomous driving are currently being held back by ‘chaotic and unpredictable’ road networks.
- When these obstacles to the wider adoption of autonomous vehicles are removed, the savings that can be made on driver wages will drive adoption of the technology.
- Vehicle electrification is ideally suited to the future needs of the LCV and government buy-in will be instrumental in developing the infrastructure needed to drive corporate acceptance.
- A joined-up, multinational approach to low emission zones and clean air zones would be ‘tremendously useful’ for owners and manufacturers alike.
- Vans will remain an essential link in supply chains, despite the increasing prevalence of final mile solutions.
- At the same time, the proliferation of final mile fulfilment agents will make road safety a real challenge for future cities.
- ‘Safe zones’ may be needed to facilitate the further roll-out of safety-driven autonomous systems.
- E-commerce will continue to push forward innovation and efficiency for home delivery in general, but LCVs in particular
Finally, the white paper concludes, “The future of urban logistics depends on businesses, politicians and Local Authorities working together across the globe to steer innovations on the right course.
“Seeking a better, greener and truly sustainable society is a noble and urgent aim, but it will also enable smarter transport and delivery processes, and the evolution of a new breed of LCVs.”
The full white paper can be downloaded here.