Inventing tomorrow’s solutions sometimes means rejuvenating solutions that were thought to be forever obsolete. This is how the logistician Ceva convinced the energy company Engie and the motorway concessionaire Sanef to review the post office concept together. Its principle was simple: the horses tired quickly, rested mounts were, from time to time, made available to the riders to transport the mail more quickly. The times have changed. But the question of autonomy arises again, at a time when electric heavy goods vehicles are emerging as a solution to decarbonize road freight.
The idea? Cut a route into several stages of 300 kilometers and, at each of them, to couple, in less than thirty minutes, the trailer to a new tractor, whose battery will have been charged. This prevents the goods from “sleeping” in a motorway parking lot. The tractor relieved of its trailer is then reloaded, while the driver observes his statutory rest time. Then he goes back in the opposite direction, with a new trailer.
“The driver leaves in the morning and returns home in the evening, and not, as often, after several days or a week”, boasts Julien Pointillart, Deputy Director Environment and CSR at Sanef. “Real social progress and an argument of attractiveness”, he underlines, while in Europe, according to the International Road Transport Union, two million driver positions cannot be filled in 2026.
An experiment with 20 tractors and 20 trailers will take place, probably in the summer, on the Lille-Avignon route, using one or more areas of the Sanef network and Ceva terminals. The goal ? Develop this system, which has the advantage of flexibility, on a European scale. “A trailer towed by the same vehicle from Lithuania could cross France using our solution, before continuing to Spain by switching back to the usual mode”, anticipates Édouard Fischer, director of technologies and innovation at Sanef.
Named European Clean Transport Network Alliance (1), the project will also make it possible to juggle energy solutions. The relay stations will be equipped with high-power electric charging stations and pumps distributing biogas and green hydrogen. They will be open to all carriers, who will benefit from an IT tool to optimize their routes and charging times.