Living Labs Demonstrate the Trucks of the Future

Context of Transport Climate Action

To reduce the CO2 emissions of road transport several innovations can be used. In the ‘Truck of the Future’ platform multiple living labs[1] have been carried out to gain experience with technical innovations on-board heavy duty trucks (HDV). These include the use of alternative fuel, and innovations that can reduce the resistance (air drag and rolling resistance) trucks experience.

The Truck van de Toekomst ‘truck of the future’ program was initiated by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment and has brought together research organizations, manufacturers of clean vehicle technologies and logistic companies.

A total of 503 trucks participated in one of these living labs. Countless innovations were tried and tested and some proved to be both feasible and effective: hybridization, improving aerodynamic truck profiles, new efficient cooling technologies, alternative fuel management systems (including the use of Liquid Natural Gas LNG) and trucks with IT applications to help truck drivers reduce their fuel consumption are only a few examples. Depending on the applications, in most cases the fuel consumption of trucks was considerably reduced and significant knowledge was gained on the practical implementation of these technologies.

[1] A Living Lab is a new research concept and is a user-centred, open-innovation system, integrating concurrent research and innovation processes often within a public-private-people partnership


In the first part of the project the living labs were organized with suppliers of technologies and transport companies to demonstrate the alternatives for reducing the CO2 emissions from road transport. As a first step, the transport company, together with research organization TNO[1], selected the most promising technological improvement for the specific truck based on the characteristics of the vehicle (truck configuration, engine size) and its destined operational profile (e.g. city distribution, long haul operation etc.) The partners tested these technologies and reported the their findings including the impact on costs and their effectiveness to reduce the CO2, but they also reported on other important aspects:

  • How easy or difficult the practical implementation was
  • How reliable the technology was and how much maintenance it required
  • How it affected the safety of the operations
  • How it affected the truck’s characteristics
  • The overall experience

The second part of the program focused on advanced fuel concepts such as hybrid trucks and LNG, including developing a game about the use of alternative fuels.

The results are shared online and the knowledge platform that is constantly being updated with new experiences and possibilities (

[1] A leading Dutch Research organisation


The Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment worked together with the RVO (the Netherlands Enterprise Agency), Rijkswaterstaat (responsible for infrastructure) and TNO (applied research organization) in the realization of the ‘Truck of the future’ program.

A total of 13 transport companies and 10 technology providers participated in these living labs


Depending on the operational profile of the trucks and on the production method of the alternative fuels, the following CO2 reductions (tank to wheel) were reached in the Truck of the Future program

  • Hybrid diesel-electric trucks: up to 20 % CO2 reduction
  • Hybrid diesel-LPG trucks: up to 10%
  • Hybrid diesel-bioLNG: up to 42%
  • Monofuel BioCNG truck: up to 80%
  • Monofuel BioLNG truck: up to 80%
  • Full electric truck: up to 100%
  • Aerodynamic side skirts: up to 6%
  • Aerodynamic mudflaps: up to 1.5%
  • Covering empty open containers: up to 5.5%
  • Low-rolling-friction tires: up to 4%
  • Aligning axel and tires: up to 4.5%
  • Monitoring tire pressure: up to 2.5%
  • IT support for truck drivers: up to 4% for a fleet (up to 8% for individual truckers)

The pay back periods of each of these innovations was also computed and showed that many innovations could be earned back within 2 years. The demonstration of these technologies, their CO2-reducing effect and the short pay-back periods have inspired logistic service providers to further invest in these technologies.

Potential for scaling up

In the truck of the future initiative new technologies, both consisting of major investments as well as minor changes, have been adopted based on the specific needs of the trucking company. This approach can widely be adopted by transport companies all over the world.

Several participants have included the technologies they tested in their regular operations and are continuing the use of these technologies. Other transport companies are only slowly picking up some of these technologies.

The concept of bringing stakeholders together to demonstrate new technologies and to gain experience with them can be used in other transport sectors as well. Living labs like the ones in the ‘Truck of the future’ program can also be done for other vehicles such as cars, buses, inland waterway transport, maritime transport, rail transport and aviation.

Selected references









Netherlands, Mitigation, Freight, Technology, Partnership, Awareness


TNO, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO)


Willar Vonk