Iveco consultant Peter Symons mounted a spirited defence of diesel as a heavy-vehicle fuel before discussing alternatives at the FTA transport manager’s conference in Sparkford, Somerset.
“Is diesel dead?” He asked rhetorically, saying that the VW Dieselgate scandal had seen the fuel demonised, although it was ideal for heavy-duty road transport.
“Exhaust from Euro 6 heavy trucks is actually cleaner than the surrounding air in many cities,” he asserted, but admitted that: “we have reached the point where we can’t clean the exhaust any more. It is 10 times cleaner than that of many cars, but as a fossil fuel its days are numbered.”
“Alternative fuels have to be as good as diesel is, for your applications,” he told delegates.
“Electricity will work in urban applications, while gas will work everywhere else.”
There was still work to do before electricity could be viable for road transport, although the likely increase in the LGV threshold from 3.5 to 4.25 tonnes for electric vehicles that was expected next year would help.
Iveco had a 3.5-tonne electric Daily van in its line-up, but the figures were stacked against it, as with one battery it had only limited range yet cost £60,000. Adding a second battery would give it a 100-mile radius, but the cost went up to £80,000.
It was possible that the vehicle could be made viable for use in London if the correct incentives were in place.
The current 20 per cent ‘plugged-in’ electric van grant got the price down to £64,000, making it £44,000 more expensive than an equivalent diesel.
The van would use just £1,000-worth of electricity annually, compared to £5000 of fuel for a diesel van. This would save £4,000 a year, to which could be added a £,3000 annual saving in the London Congestion Charge, saving a total of £42,000 over six years. So, if the van could be run into its seventh year, the change to electric would be cost-neutral.
Mr Symons was highly sceptical about the delayed plans by Tesla to introduce an electric heavy truck to the USA.
“An 11-14 tonne battery costing up to £330,000 would be needed to power an electric long-distance truck,” he said.
On the lighter end of its vehicle portfolio, Iveco now offers the Natural Power gas-fuelled version of its Eurocargo in right-hand drive. The CNG-powered truck is available in 12 and 16-tonne 4×2 rigid form, with wheelbases from 3105 to 5670 mm.
It uses a gas-specific version of the manufacturer’s six-litre Tector engine with rated outputs of 204 hp and 750 Nm. Range is up to 400 km, with gas tanks mounted along the chassis rails to preserve loadspace.
CNG emits 35 per cent fewer NOx emissions and 95 per cent less particulate matter than the equivalent diesel, making it the most environmentally-friendly fuel available for the heavy commercial market. An added bonus for urban deliveries is a claimed noise reduction of up to 50 per cent.
Iveco also offers CNG and electric versions of its Daily heavy van.
Belgian logistics company Jost Group has recently ordered 500 Iveco Stralis NP LNG trucks as it begins “a strategic move away from diesel”. The first 150 will enter service in 2018, with the balance of the delivery being completed by 2020, converting 35 per cent of the company’s fleet to CNG.