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Bernd Osterloh (Chief Human Resources Officer at TRATON GROUP), and Dr. Volker Wissing (German Federal Minister for Digital and Transport) met in Berlin to discuss the future of transportation and the urgent need to create a charging infrastructure for commercial vehicles. Wissing agreed with Osterloh that the European Union must continue to build a European-wide charging network in order to achieve its climate protection goals. These long-haul battery electric long-haul trucks are a great opportunity to reach these goals and make the transport sector more independent from fossil fuels. As he spoke to Minister Osterloh, he stated that the first 100,000 electric trucks could help save approximately ten million tons CO2 each year.
Osterloh stated that the TRATON GROUP, its Scania, MAN Truck & Bus and Navistar brands, as well as Volkswagen Caminhoes e Onibus, already have series-produced battery electric vans, trucks, and buses in production all over the globe. The TRATON Group believes that a single charge will be sufficient to provide a vehicle with a range of at least 1,000 km in the future, as long as battery technology improves. Drivers can charge their vehicle in a combination with the rest periods required by law for Europe, as the charging time is less than one hour. Osterloh stated that electric vehicles are the best choice for long-haul transport and mass market.
The infrastructure to charge long-haul battery electric commercial vehicles in Europe is what they need. The TRATON GROUP plans to launch a joint venture with the Volvo Group and Daimler Truck in order to jump-start this infrastructure. Within five years, the plan is to establish and operate 1,700 high performance green energy charging stations near highways and at logistic and destination points. Antitrust approvals are still required for the joint venture. Osterloh stated that the goal is to receive approvals from antitrust authorities within the next few months so that the joint venture can gain momentum. The EUR500 million investment in the joint venture is considered a down payment by the three commercial vehicle manufacturers for the establishment of the infrastructure.
Osterloh stated that the venture’s plans for building the network need to be supported by the government and sent a clear signal to policymakers. This is in order to win the trust of other EU members and freighters. Osterloh said that an example of this would be the announcement by the German government about the creation a national charging network to charge trucks, similar to the Deutschland- Netz network for passenger cars. The state plays a unique role in this. “We need to repurpose areas along highways in order to build truck charging stations. This cannot be done without government intervention,” stated TRATON Board member. “Right now it is up the policymakers to up their game and push for the expansion of the charging infrastructure needed to make electric mobility a success story also for heavy-duty trucks.”
Wissing met Osterloh ahead of an event at a Berlin Tempelhof Airport airfield. The event saw TRATON brand MAN Truck & Bus unveil its first prototype of the MAN eTGX battery-electric long-haul truck, which will launch in 2024.
During the discussion with Kristin Kahl, Transport Minister Wissing, and Kristin KAHL from Contargo (a freight forwarder with experience in electric trucks), Alexander Vlaskamp CEO of MAN Truck & Bus SE and Frank Muhlon President of ABB E-mobility stressed that the industry was ready to make the switch to e-trucks. Both MAN, a commercial vehicle manufacturer, and ABB E-mobility, a charging station provider have made the decision to invest into battery electric vehicles and charging stations. They need a helping hand from policymakers.
Alexander Vlaskamp, CEO of MAN: “We’re ready, However, the transition to zero emission technologies will not be successful unless policymakers invest heavily to build a strong charging infrastructure network for heavy-duty commercial trucks. This infrastructure must be built quickly to make the transition to more environmentally-friendly transport possible and to meet our climate goals”.
Federal Minister Wissing clearly felt the impact of the event: “If our goal is to reach our climate goals, then we must decarbonize how we transport goods on roads. Our top priorities in this effort are to get the market up and running for eco-friendly commercial vehicles and build the high-performance charging infrastructure. It is crucial to get more e-trucks onto the roads quickly. We are on the right path thanks to the work of ABB and MAN”.