Truck traffic is increasing due to higher logistics demand. E-commerce has accompanied the sector’s growth, both over long and medium distances, especially in countries with little rail infrastructure.
Following the 2020 pandemic, there was a significant rebound in this mode of transportation. However, this motorization will have to be electrified to meet the environmental Sustainable Development Goals. Infrastructure is also an essential element for this mode.
What are trucks, and what types are there?
Trucks are large motorized vehicles used in transportation and logistics. This is a technical response to the problem of sending large loads from one point to another on the map when all other modes fail.
How big they are depends on the regulations in each country. Some consider ‘trucks’ to be cargo vehicles over 3,500 kg. Others come to accept ‘mega-trucks’ as vehicles measuring 25.25 meters long and weighing up to 60 tons; there are even duo trailers at 13.6 meters long and 70 tons.
Most trucks still rely on fossil fuels to get around. However, batteries’ energy density has already led to the commercialization of electric trucks. During the period of transition and prices going down, hydrogen alternatives may emerge.
How efficient are the trucks?
Both a vehicle’s emissions and energy consumption are measured to gauge the level of efficiency when transporting one kilogram over one kilometer.
Trucking is much more efficient than air freight but less so than by an electric train or a large ship. The big advantage of this modality is shipping ‘small’ quantities (a container) and being able to reach sprawling urban centers that don’t have maritime or railway access.
The road infrastructure that trucks need
Just as trains need tracks and planes need airports, truck traffic for meeting logistical needs paved roads, especially when they’re a certain size.
With 3.5-ton trucks, virtually any roadway infrastructure is adequate. For heavier trucks, the roadway must be suited to the stresses that arise when these vehicles accelerate or brake.