Greener HGVs cut CO2 by 25%

20th January 2014

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Angela Foulsham

Converting heavy commercial vehicles to run partly on natural gas could cut carbon emissions by up to 25%, according to logistics firm Brit European

The company, which delivers new cars for Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota and other automotive manufacturers, is halfway through a two-year government-backed pilot scheme which has seen it convert 36 vehicle transporters to burn both diesel and natural gas.

The technology enables heavy good vehicles (HGVs) to replace up to 55% of the diesel used to drive the engine with compressed natural gas (CNG), switching back to burning pure diesel mode if the vehicle runs out of CNG.

According to Brit European, the results from the first year of the pilot suggest that companies could cut fuel costs by 10% and carbon emissions by up to 25%.

“We have HGVs that have done 75,000 miles without experiencing any significant issues in terms of performance or reliability,” confirmed Graham Lackey, managing director at Brit European.

“The data from the trial is providing hard evidence that dual-fuel is substantially cheaper and cleaner [than pure diesel]. 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 firm has also revealed that, with its fleet of 36 dual-fuel HGVs travelling around 60,000 miles a week, it expects to achieve payback on the £30,000 conversion in two years through reduced fuel costs.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced that from 2018 all new black cabs in the capital will have to be capable of running without producing any emissions to air, ie they must be either fully electric or hybrid vehicles.

“The London taxi is iconic in so many ways … To date its one Achilles’ heel, particularly of older models, has been the pollution generated by chugging diesel engines,” said Johnson.

“As part of my mission to improve our air quality and drive innovation, I’m making a firm pledge to Londoners that from 2018 all taxis presented for licensing should be zero emission capable.”

However, the Green Party’s Jenny Jones, a member of the London assembly, raised concerns as to whether the capital will have the charging infrastructure needed in time.

“Some of these electric taxis will be on the roads by 2015, but our electric charging network is simply not up to the job of supporting them,” she warned. “The mayor should get on with meeting his original target of 25,000 charging points to help taxi drivers who want to do the right thing, and make the switch to non-polluting vehicles next year.

“We can’t afford to miss the opportunity to go electric, when we have between one and two thousand taxis being replaced every year.”

In February 2013, Johnson announced that an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) will be introduced in London in 2020. The ULEZ will mean that the “almost all” vehicles driving in the capital would have to be either zero or low-carbon. Currently, black cabs account for 30% of air pollutant emissions in parts of central London.

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