Truck and Track Spring 2023 Spring 2023 Truck and Track 31 OILS & LUBRICANTS Q: What kind of new technological developments will we see in the commercial vehicle sector and what effect will this have on the industry? In recent years, a lot of emphasis has (rightly) been placed on electric vehicles. But, the future of driving isn’t just about electrification. Other technologies, including automation, will be transformational. The UK government recently pledged £81 million in joint UK government and industry support for self-driving technology. One of the companies to benefit from this is hydrogen-powered commercial vehicle innovator, HVS, which was awarded £6.6m of this government funding to develop a zero-emission, autonomous HGV for the UK market. Whilst the company is still operating with prototypes at the moment, the combining of hydrogen fuel cell technology with self-driving efficiency is a sign of the progress that could revolutionise the industry. The idea could also help address the shortage of HGV drivers currently faced by the UK, while creating jobs in the manufacture and operation of these vehicles. We’ve seen other similar stories in the news recently – this Spring, passengers will board the first self-driving bus service in Edinburgh, a project that could transform passenger travel, and reduce road collisions caused by human error. It is likely to be years until self-driving vehicles are integrated into everyday life due to the current lack of suitable infrastructure and legal and insurance frameworks to keep vehicles and people safe, but in the interim, there is sure to be an increase in new autonomous, partially autonomous and non-autonomous vehicle concepts and solutions. Q: With rising prices across the board, how can manufacturers and professionals in the sector ensure they maximise their fleet’s efficiency and sustainability? Whilst renewables, electrification and automation are all on the horizon, ensuring best servicing practice and using the best products available, such as high quality, fuel efficient lubricants, is a step that HGV drivers and manufacturers can take now to ensure they’re maximising their fleet’s productivity and sustainability. After all, Freight Link Europe recently noted that the cost of running a single lorry has risen some £20,000 over the past year. Major strides have been made over the past few years in terms of innovating engine oils and lubricants. The result is increased uptime and lower maintenance costs – particularly through products such as our own RUBIA TIR 9900 FE 5W-30 – thanks to reduced friction and viscosity of lubricants. These efficiency gains provide both emissions reductions and cost control benefits - equating to between 2% and 3% increases in fuel efficiency for commercial vehicles. Another step in improving efficiency and sustainability is how the industry disposes and recycles its oils and lubricants. Many waste recycling providers across the UK, such as Slicker, take used oil that would otherwise have been disposed through fuel burning in the marine or energy markets – and reprocess it into a base oil product to create new carbon-efficient lubricating oils. Overall, this emits about 30% less CO2 than lubricants produced from crude oil – equating to far less environmental impact. There’s no doubt that the industry is changing quickly. Reaching net zero is something that the industry and the UK will have to do collectively, including investing in new technologies and energy sources for long term, while ensuring fleets are maintained and operated as sustainably as they can be today.