Then add an opera soprano, musicians with drums and trumpets, actors, walls of containers decorated with the logo of all the players in the Challenge, a tent equipped for a gala, and leading speakers drawn from across a range of sectors. And what do you have? – all the ingredients needed for the European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016 to land successfully.
We are talking about a real success here! Early in the afternoon of 6 April the truck platoons landed on the Maasvlakte, after driving thousands of kilometres on public roads across Europe. They were welcomed by over 400 guests from home and abroad, including Melanie Schultz van Haegen, the Dutch minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, and Rijkswaterstaat director-general Jan Hendrik Dronkers. More than 50 media people and photographers covered the event.
A helicopter filmed the truck platoons during the final stage of their journey, and guests could follow progress via a livestream. On arrival at the APM Terminals the trucks parked in a fan-formation near the tent. The drivers received an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd. The singing and the musical intermezzos were “the icing on the cake”. Appropriately, as the Netherlands holds the EU-presidency, the drivers and the minister placed big yellow stars on the blue carpet to form the European flag.
Thanks to the drivers
The gala welcome was followed by act two inside the tent, and not a moment too soon! – as this coincided with a fierce downpour. A great selection of speakers was led by Ben Vree, CEO of APM Terminals Europe, who wished everyone a warm welcome. The minister then thanked the drivers, expressed her pride in the achievements of the Challenge and shared her ambitions around smart mobility.
Jan Hendrik Dronkers presented the minister with the first copy of the Storybook European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016. The book, painting a dynamic picture of the creation process behind the Challenge, was jointly compiled with a number of stakeholders in the Challenge network.
The next four speakers - Antti Peltomäki representing the European Commission, Harrie Schippers for ACEA, Arthur van Dijk of Transport en Logistiek Nederland, and Mark van der Drift on behalf of Ahold – briefed everyone on the importance of truck platooning for society as a whole, for the economy and for the logistics sector.
The Challenge realised enviable media coverage. The Algemeen Dagblad, Business News Radio, the Financieele Dagblad, NOS-tv, De Telegraaf, trade journals and international media all featured the Challenge and landing. There was no shortage of tweeting and, to date, the livestream booked 100,000-plus hits.
In short, the landing was a splendid climax to a Challenge, which got off the ground in 2015. Starting in autumn that year, the project rapidly developed into a wide network of private and public parties, jointly working towards a shared vision and the realisation of next generation mobility.