Alternative powertrains in road-bound heavy-duty transport: a quantitative determination of user requirements for heavy-duty vehicles and their infrastructure
In view of climate change, measures to reduce CO2 are urgently required and much discussed. The transport sector plays a pivotal role here, accounting for approximately 20% of the total CO2 emissions in Germany. Alongside passenger cars, the main emitters of CO2 are long-haul heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) due to their high mileages and fuel consumption. Switching powertrains to a CO2-neutral technology in this sector can make a large contribution to reducing emissions and thus to reducing the burden on the environment and climate. Such a switch can only be successful if it is in the interests of the daily users of these vehicles. This study determines and quantifies the user requirements for vehicles and infrastructure in long-haul heavy goods transport in order to be able to design alternative powertrain technologies accordingly. A quantitative research method was applied based on a qualitative study, which identified economic, ecological and technical user requirements. A web-based questionnaire was designed in the first step and data collected. The data obtained were then used for descriptive and correlation analyses. In total, 70 participants or companies took part in the study. The analyses show that economic requirements, especially total costs of owner-ship and reliability, are very important. The freight forwarding and logistics sector is characterized by strong competition and high cost pressure so that companies here have little financial leeway, in particular for implementing environmentally-friendly measures. There are marked differences of opinion among users concerning ecological requirements. The questions about infrastructure requirements revealed that many users are willing to accept longer refuelling or recharging times (between 10 and 30 minutes) and detours (up to 20 km). Users are generally quite open-minded and can imagine switching to alternative powertrains. Regression analyses show that users are more willing to switch to alternative powertrains if they prioritise the total costs of ownership over the entire lifetime of the vehicle, because alternative drives often have advantages here due to lower energy costs. The willingness to switch declines, on the other hand, if users give more weight to investments - alternative powertrains are often characterized by a higher purchasing price. Correlation analyses also reveal that larger companies and users who know more about alternative powertrains are more likely to be willing to switch.