Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Low Carbon Emission Road Haulage HGV Trial Working for Logistics Group at Half Way Stage

New Dual Fuel Technology Test Appears to be Successful
Shipping News Feature

UK – In November 2012 thirteen companies heavily involved in the logistics field were selected by the Government’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB) as guinea pigs for the establishment of road haulage fleets with an element of alternative and dual-fuel technology included. Altogether three hundred low carbon commercial vehicles received funding including HGVs used by such well-known names as Tesco, the John Lewis partnership, Robert Wiseman Dairies, and the BOC Group.

The technology is retrofitted and allows compressed natural gas (CNG) to replace up to 55% of the diesel fuel used to drive the engine. In the event that the system runs out of CNG, the engine switches automatically to normal diesel mode. The two-year programme also involves Government funding to help meet the cost of eleven new public access refuelling stations around the country.

One of the select few chosen to test the technology was Crewe-based vehicle delivery company Brit European whose customers include JCB, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Jaguar Landrover and Toyota. The North West firm has converted thirty six of its transporters to allow the engines to burn a combination of diesel and natural gas simultaneously and now, with the half-way point for the trial passed in the two year pilot programme, Graham Lackey, Managing Director of Brit European, spoke out last month and sounded positive with results so far, saying:

“We’re at the half-way point and have HGVs that have done 75,000 miles without experiencing any significant issues in terms of performance or reliability. The data from the trial is providing the hard evidence that dual fuel is substantially cheaper and cleaner. The exercise is also creating a wealth of information from a range of real-life situations that will increase industry confidence in low carbon trucks in the long term.”

The Brit European boss says the company’s converted HGV fleet is doing around 60,000 miles a week, making the fuel cost saving significant. With the £30k capital cost of the conversion, the company expects to make its investment back in two years. As the lifespan of each vehicle is five years Brit European expects to achieve three years of ‘profit’ from the dual fuel conversion, figures backed up by Neil Sturmey of accountancy firm Grant Thornton, which advises Brit European and a number of low carbon businesses in the North West. He commented:

"The efforts to stimulate the market for dual-fuel vehicles are being watched carefully by the transport and logistics companies. Fuel costs are always a sensitive issue and if you extrapolate the 15% reduction in carbon emissions across the entire UK transport fleet you are talking about a step-change towards a cleaner industry.

“The dual fuel trial is providing a real time test of the vehicles and refuelling technologies and will enable further refinement of the technology. There’s some way to go to develop the UK’s gas refuelling infrastructure but we are now on that journey and the positive results so far are encouraging. We also think the Government could do more to promote dual fuel by changing the tax regime to further encourage future capital expenditure on these vehicles.”

The dual fuel programme is managed by Technology Strategy Board in partnership with the Department for Transport and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). OLEV is a cross-Whitehall team that has been established to manage a program of measures designed to promote uptake of the next-generation of ultra-low emission vehicle technologies. The usage data from the demonstration will be gathered and analysed by the Department for Transport.

n.b. The weblink to the TSB is due to change soon when they will be available at the GOV.UK address.

Photo: Graham Lackey with one of the company vehicles.