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August 1, 2009updated 12 Apr 2017 4:34pm

Mega opportunity?

Some commercial vehicle lessors are rubbing their hands with glee as the EC talks about allowing heavier and longer trucks on European roads. The current discussion follows a debate started over 13 years ago when an EC directive established that road vehicles in international traffic could not exceed 18.25 metres in length and 40 tonnes in weight.

By Antonio Fabrizio

Some commercial vehicle
lessors are rubbing their hands with glee as the EC talks about
allowing heavier and longer trucks on European roads.

Antonio
Fabrizio

New discussions in Brussels about
introducing heavier and longer trucks on European roads have
generated some interest from within the leasing community.

The current discussion follows a debate
started over 13 years ago when an EC directive established that
road vehicles in international traffic could not exceed 18.25
metres in length and 40 tonnes in weight.

Proponents of the new mega-trucks, instead,
want them to measure up to 25.25 metres and weigh up to 60 tonnes –
around the same length and weight of a fully loaded Boeing 737.
Sweden – which is home to Scania and Volvo – has just taken over
the EU presidency and said it wants to have mega-trucks introduced
for cross-border transportation.

However, Germany and the UK don’t seem equally
keen to introduce them. In general, it is believed mega-trucks
would put an unbearable burden on infrastructure such as bridges,
and their length would make it difficult to travel on roads.

Norton Rose partner Michael Juergen Werner,
who specialises in EU law, says pan-European legislation is
unlikely to happen, mainly because of the German opposition.

“Germany is one of the major infrastructure
providers, and the government’s opposition to mega-trucks will make
it more difficult for the project to go ahead,” Werner said. “More
realistically, there could be some kind of compromise, such as
allowing some trucks for certain distances and road types
internally.”

The introduction of these assets in the UK is
equally doubtful.

According to Elliot Lennick, CEO of MAN
Financial Services, their presence on British roads would be
“minimal, if it is even allowed, because of their impact”.Lennick
believes that whatever the decision from Brussels, the UK
government is unlikely to agree.

Mega-trucks are more suited for European
cross-country work, because they are already allowed in Sweden and
Finland. France, Belgium and the Netherlands have shown interest in
them.

Despite this, however, they are not expected
to have a mega-impact on lessors.

Scania spokesperson Hans-Åke Danielsson said:
“I don’t think that purchasing patterns like financing will change
in case they are introduced within all of the European
countries.”

“Theoretically, the number of sales of new
trucks would decrease by the fact that a vehicle combination of
25.25 metres has space for up to 50 percent more of cargo compared
to today’s largest combinations,” Danielsson continued.

Lennick added that they would still represent
an opportunity, although not one which is expected to generate a
huge change.

“As far as I can see, there will not be a big
volume, and in terms of residual values, I suppose you would simply
treat them as tractors and trailers, only bigger.”

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