Brit European Blazing Low Carbon HGVs Trail
The North West firm chosen as one of the partners for a £23 million government scheme to encourage the use of lower carbon commercial vehicles says the project is on target to deliver the hoped for reductions in fuel costs and carbon emissions.
Brit European, the Crewe-based vehicle delivery company, whose customers include JCB, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Jaguar Landrover and Toyota, has converted 36 of its transporters to allow the engines to burn a combination of diesel and natural gas simultaneously.
At the half way point of a two year pilot programme it says the results so far suggest it’s possible to reduce fuel costs by 10% and emissions by up to 25%.
Brit European was one of 13 logistics companies selected by the Government’s Technology Strategy Board in November 2012 to receive funding support to establish fleets of alternative and dual-fuel heavy-goods vehicles. Some 300 low-carbon commercial vehicles are involved in the demonstration scheme around the UK, including HGVs used by 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 11 new public access refuelling stations around the country.
Graham Lackey, managing director of Brit European, said: “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.”
Brit European says its 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.
Neil Sturmey, of accountancy firm Grant Thornton, which advises Brit European and a number of low carbon businesses in the North West, 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 program 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.