IAA Voices: Interview with Gianenrico Griffini on the "Truck of the Year" award
The International Truck of the year award will be presented for the first time this year at the IAA TRANSPORTATION. In the IAA Voices interview, jury chairman Gianenrico Griffini from the Italian trade magazine "Vie & Trasporti" talks about the most exciting truck trends of the year and explains what really matters at the awards ceremony.
Mr. Griffini, you are not only chairman of the jury that awards the annual "International Truck of the Year" but also work for "Vie & Trasporti," the major monthly magazine in the Italian transportation field. From where does your particular passion for trucks come?
Trucks are probably in my DNA because my father was a manager in an Italian heavy haulage transport company. Those heavy-duty trucks of the early sixties - very primitive if compared to the modern ones – looked impressive, powerful, unstoppable, and fascinating when I was a kid.
Without anticipating too much about the awards ceremony at the IAA TRANSPORTATION in September: What exciting trends are dominating the truck industry this year?
Energy transition and autonomous driving are hot topics this year. But we must not forget what the automotive industry has been able to deliver in the field of conventional drivelines. We have seen dramatic improvements in fuel consumption, energy efficiency, aerodynamic drag reduction, safety, and driving comfort. Therefore ICE engines still have a lot to say before being phased out or replaced by advanced propulsion solutions.
Were there any developments and innovations in recent months that surprised you as a professional? What were they?
What surprised me most was the speed of the energy transition – especially but not only toward battery-electric heavy-duty trucks (BEV) – and towards the autonomous driving solutions. Battery-electric heavy-duty trucks are already in service in day-to-day operation. In the USA, autonomous driving can be a reality by the end and this decade, at least in hub-to-hub operations. And Europe will see a similar trend.
Please take us into the decision-making process of the ITOY jury. What criteria play a role in your choice, and when is an innovation a relevant innovation from the jury's point of view?
Let's talk about the International Truck of the Year first. I want to point out that the final evaluation is comprehensive, considering many factors. The decision-making process encompasses a wide range of criteria, such as fuel consumption, environmental footprint, driver comfort, safety, driveability, the total cost of ownership, and much more. As far as the Truck Innovation Award is concerned, we consider every innovation or innovative solution's importance and possible positive fallout on transport operations. In other words, having an electric driveline is not enough. It must be an electric driveline that raises the bar in its specific sector.
You have been chairman of the ITOY jury for 14 years and have already seen many award winners. Which winner has impressed you the most to date?
Every year I see something different that sets a new standard in the automotive sector. And the best is yet to come. That's why I like to write about heavy-duty trucks.
Lastly, please give us some prospects for the truck industry. Which groundbreaking developments and trends do you expect for the coming years?
As I told you, we should expect further acceleration toward energy transition and autonomous driving, with different timetables on different continents. But the progress will be astonishing.
Gianenrico Griffini works as a journalist for "Vie & Trasporti", the major monthly magazine in the Italian transportation field. Since 1992 he has been a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers, the International association of automotive experts based in Warrendale, Pennsylvania, USA, with over 130.000 members world-wide.
In 2008 he was elected as Chairman of the International Truck of the Year Group, the association of senior road transport journalists and editors that represents commercial vehicle magazines from 31 countries. Every 12 months the ItoY jury makes its annual "Truck of the Year" award.