DAF begins electric CF field tests

08 January 2019

DAF has launched the first trials of its all-electric CF tractor unit, which has gone into service with Dutch supermarket chain, Jumbo.

The CF Electric, which is a joint venture between DAF and technology firm VDL Group, is a 4×2 tractor unit developed for road haulage at up to 37-tonnes in urban areas. The vehicle is based on the DAF CF and is electrically operated using VDL’s E-Power Technology, with a 210kW electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack with a capacity of 170 kWh. It has a range of approximately 100 kilometres and has a 30-minute quick-charge feature, while a full charge takes 1.5 hours.

The field trial vehicle will be used by Jumbo to supply its supermarkets in the south of the Netherlands.

“The transport sector is about to undergo a major transformation,” said Harry Wolters, DAF Trucks President. “Electric trucks look set to become the norm for deliveries in urban areas. Not today and not next year, but definitely within the foreseeable future.

“I am particularly proud that [this] marks the beginning of a large-scale field testing project that will see DAF working in collaboration with VDL and Jumbo. This project will allow us to gather useful data and experience in relation to both the technology and the operational aspects. We can then use our findings to ensure that the final series-production model provides the ideal solution to future market requirements.”

“Introducing this new electric truck is the next step towards our goal of implementing a sustainable strategy for our vehicle fleet”, said Frits van Eerd, CEO of Jumbo. “Our business puts us right at the heart of the community, and our ultimate goal is to be using electric vehicles to supply 45% of our shops. By 2020, we hope to have reduced CO2emissions from Jumbo’s vehicle fleet by 50% compared with 2008.”

A charging station for the truck has been installed at the Jumbo distribution centre in Veghel, in the Southern Netherlands.

Feature: Scania on the future of platooning

08 January 2019

Efficient engines, advanced aerodynamics and low-rolling-resistance tyres have all helped to cut fuel consumption for truck operators in the past decade.

The next big breakthrough could come not from the technology in the trucks themselves, but from how they are operated.

In recent years there has been considerable discussion around HGV platooning, in which multiple trucks run closely together to reduce aerodynamic drag. With around 25% of a truck’s fuel used to overcome that drag, there are substantial benefits to be unlocked.

Depending on the terrain, even current adaptive cruise control (ACC) can yield a 3-4% reduction in fuel consumption with trucks travelling around 40m (1.5 seconds at 60mph) apart.

“There will be further savings when we have a smaller gap and much richer information being transmitted between the trucks,” says Christian Bergstrand, a customer project manager at Scania. “When we introduce autonomous technologies as well and no longer have to take the driver into consideration, we can have a really short gap. In the case where we will have one driver for a platoon of four trucks, we could cut fuel consumption by 10% or more for the time the trucks are in the platoon.”

In the short term, the biggest obstacles to the widespread adoption of platooning could be operational and legal. Bergstrand recognises that platoonable trucks can only be adopted if the operational processes around forming and dissolving a platoon are been defined. Therefore, it is likely that large fleets will initially lead the way in Europe by creating platoons of in-house trucks.

“We want to pinpoint those operators who can achieve platooning within their own organisation,” he confirms. “They can plan for coordinated departures and matchmake within the fleet. We want to then grow the volume so that [in time], smaller customers can benefit from more ad hoc platooning.

“We have to create a safe and stable platform to enable services to build upon the platooning capability,” he added. “But I see plenty of business opportunities for startups to create services for transport companies that enable them to platoon with anyone in a safe way.”

Cross-industry collaboration is key to solving the problems and Scania has been gathering feedback on the operational challenges in different markets. It conducted a trial in Spain with Acotral and is part of the Sweden4Platooning project in its home country, where the partners include DB Schenker and Volvo Trucks. Scania does not yet have a project in the UK, but it’s something that the Transport Research Laboratory is looking to develop.

“The biggest challenge (in the UK) is traffic congestion.” Says Bergstrand. “That would improve if we could use platooning to put all the trucks in one lane instead of having them spread out across multiple lanes.”

UK law specifies ‘driving with due care and attention’ and the Highway Code recommends a two-second gap to the vehicle in front, but it’s not a legal requirement that could stand in the way of the smaller gaps that platooning trucks will require. Other European countries do enforce minimum distances or time intervals however – 50m for fast-moving HGVs in France and Germany, for example – and these will prove an obstacle to implementing platooning unless there are changes in the law in those countries.

“Platooning is not allowed yet and we need countries to harmonise the legislation,” urges Bergstrand. “We are trying to collaborate on a local level with as many transport authorities as we can to explain the benefits and the issues, and to bring this to the attention of the decision makers. But it’s a challenge. There are many aspects to developing these new concepts – technology, legislation, driver acceptance, operational processes and so on. We have to work on these things in parallel because otherwise we will end up hitting a bottleneck at some point.”

Scania envisages a four-step process on the road to fully autonomous platooning. In Step 1, drivers maintain a gap of around 40m (1.5 seconds), assisted by ACC. In Step 2, the vehicles are wirelessly connected for simultaneous braking, which enables the gaps to be cut to 20m. It’s down to 10m in the next step, where the trucks become semi-autonomous for the first time: the first driver takes the lead and others behind are able to rest or sleep. Finally, in Step 4 only the lead truck has a driver while the others are autonomously driven.

Bergstrand is optimistic that Step 2 can be achieved very soon. But even before vehicle-to-vehicle technology is deployed, Scania is due to release an upgraded ACC system that’ll help achieve fuel savings from platooning. Rather than maintaining a fixed distance to the truck in front, the ACC will manage the gap dynamically to avoid unnecessary braking and optimise fuel consumption.

“The step to the semi-autonomous concept on a large scale is harder to foresee,” he assesses. It’s a challenge to determine what level of autonomy we need. Is it OK to have technology through which the drivers could resume control in 10-15 seconds, or should they be allowed to fall asleep? That’s partly regulated by laws and policies as well. The requirements have not been defined that would determine a possible introduction in, say, 3-5 years. Even so, I strongly believe that before 2025 we will have many semi-autonomous platooning trucks on European roads. Hopefully we will see many commercial trials on the roads even before that.”

UK CV manufacturing grows by a quarter in November

21 December 2018

  • UK commercial vehicle manufacturing rises 26.5% in November, with 7,983 vehicles rolling off production lines.
  • Demand in home market doubles, as large domestic orders follow negative growth in 2016 and 2017.
  • Year-to-date performance stable, up 5.0% on the same period last year, an increase of 3,697 units.

UK commercial vehicle production increased 26.5% in November, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). While the low volumes associated with CV manufacturing can result in large percentage swings, the doubling in output for the home market helped manufacturing jump by a quarter.

Although the number of CVs built for overseas customers fell -9.4% in the month, production for the UK market more than compensated, rising by 2,070 units. The increase follows large fleet orders from British businesses and unusually weak performances over the same period in 2016 and 2017.

Year-to-date production figures remain broadly stable, increasing 5.0% on 2017, with manufacturing for the domestic market up 11.8%, and export demand up 0.8%, accounting for almost 60% of total output.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

While the boost to commercial vehicle production for the home market is certainly welcome news, it is important to remember that large fleet orders can have a big impact on this small volume sector. The very significant increase follows weak performances in the previous two Novembers and small volumes at the beginning of the year.

Despite the growth in domestic demand, exports continue to take the majority of output overall so any weakening in global markets will be a worry. Maintaining the success of the sector depends on the UK remaining competitive and that means ensuring the preservation of the beneficial trading conditions we currently enjoy.

Leyland Trucks gives a Helping Hand to local charities

08 January 2019

Helping Hand, a not-for-profit organisation run by a committee of Leyland Trucks and PACCAR Parts employees, has awarded £25,000 to charities local to the firm’s Lancashire headquarters.

The money, which was handed out at the company’s 2018 Christmas lunch, brings the total raised by Helping Hand in 2018 to £62,000 – with every penny donated to charities based in or supporting the people of Lancashire.

During the annual factory Christmas lunch, Leyland Trucks Managing Director Bryan Sitko and Helping Hand Chairman Matt Kersey presented cash totalling £25,000 to representatives from charities including Derian House children’s hospice, Deafway, Preston Domestic Violence Service, the North West Air Ambulance Charity, Heartbeat Cardiac Care, and Cash for Kids.

Baby Beat Appeal, Lancashire MIND, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, St Catherine’s Hospice, the Stroke Association and Tender Nursing care also received a share of the funds.

Helping Hand chairman, Matt Kersey, said, “The employees at Leyland Trucks, and friends and family, who helped raise this money have taken part in numerous challenges including an obstacle course, walks, marathon events and distance cycling. They have been, at every step, supported by their colleagues who are always willing to not only spend time but also put their hands in their pockets to help. This is true team work and shows the great culture we have here at Leyland, and for that we are truly grateful.”

Ocado introduces gas refuelling hub

08 January 2019

Online supermarket Ocado has opened its first natural gas refuelling station at its Hatfield Customer Fulfilment Centre.

The site will service 29 trucks powered by blended biomethane, a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), representing 20 per cent of the online retailer’s HGVs.

Ocado’s gas refuelling station has been designed and built by Gasrec, a major fuel supplier for natural gas-powered HGVs on UK roads. The businesses have agreed a 10-year support and maintenance contract, with Ocado also announcing plans to invest in natural gas technology at future sites.

The investment in natural gas is part of Ocado’s wider strategy to explore and invest alternative fuels. The retailer is also testing electric and hybrid delivery vehicles.

Graham Thomas, Fleet Services Manager at Ocado said: “By investing in gas-powered vehicles, and in our first onsite refuelling station, we’re future-proofing our fleet and our business.”

Suzanne Westlake, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Ocado said: “The exciting work we’re doing with alternative fuels plays a huge part in becoming even more carbon efficient, helping us get closer to our goal of being the UK’s most environmentally-responsible supermarket.”

Modern Mellor low-floor buses join Edinburgh City Council fleet

08 January 2019

Edinburgh City Council has added 12 Mellor Orion low floor buses to its fleet, citing the compact bus’s low emissions and road safety features as the core reasons for adding them to the Scottish capital’s bus fleet.

The Scottish government has committed to the introduction of low emission zones into Scotland’s four biggest cities by 2020.

The Orions are equipped with a number of safety features, including 360-degree cameras, integrated cyclist protection systems and hard disc recorders, which improve safety for road users outside the bus as well as adding protection for the driver.

Pat Traynor, fleet manager at Edinburgh City Council, said: “These vehicles are Euro 6 compliant and feature 360-degree cameras for extra public safety and driver awareness. They also meet stringent nitrous oxide and particulate emissions targets for Scotland, and initial data collected shows an improvement in fuel consumption across the fleet.

“Factor in the need to meet client expectations, such as a low floor for easy access and the result is a modern and more efficient fleet that will enable us to successfully meet the future challenges of delivering services in Scotland’s capital city,” he added.

Scania to develop fuel cell refuse truck

19 December 2018

Truck maker Scania is developing a fuel cell refuse truck together with Renova, a waste handling company in Sweden.

The truck will feature a fully electrified powertrain as well as an electrified compactor, and is part of an environmental project backed by Swedish government agencies, including the country’s Energy Agency and Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology.

Renova is Sweden’s biggest waste management company.

“We are highly interested in gaining more experience of fuel cells in actual customer operations,” said Project Manager Marita Nilsson, Electric Powertrain Technology at Scania.

Refuse trucks often operate in residential areas in the early hours of the morning. With reduced emissions and noise, electric vehicles are set to become an increasingly popular option.

“Electrification using fuel cells fuelled by hydrogen (H2) is a highly appealing alternative for heavy commercial vehicles such as refuse trucks,” said Hans Zackrisson, Head of Development at Renova. “The trucks benefit from all the advantages of electrification while maintaining some of the best aspects of fossil-fuel operations, namely range, hours in service and payload.”

The truck is expected to go into service before the end of 2019.

Guest Trucks gets UK’s first IVECO LNG demonstrator

19 December 2018

Guest Truck and Van is the first dealership in the UK to offer customer test drives in a natural gas powered IVECO tractor unit.

The dealer has taken delivery of the IVECO Stralis NP (Natural Power) LNG 460BHP 6×2 Tractor Unit, which was launched earlier this year in the UK.

By far the largest sector of commercial vehicles in the UK, the 6×2 model will be the first to bring natural powered trucks into mainstream operation.

Robert Spittle, MD of Guest Truck and Van, said anyone within its network of dealerships, which stretches from Sheffield in the north to Cambridge in the south and across to Thetford in the east, can book a test drive.

“Being the first dealership in the country to take delivery of Stralis NP is a tremendous coup for Guest Truck and Van,” he said. “Where operators of 4×2 Tractor Units have been trialing gas powered trucks previously, IVECO has now introduced a real contender to change the landscape of 6×2 fleets.

“It’s testament to our expertise in the sector that we have been selected to offer it to our customers. It’s exciting for us and it is fantastic news for our customers.”

Self-driving bus trial gathers momentum

19 December 2018

A self-driving bus is undergoing trials along an entire Bus Rapid Transit line (BRT) in a bid to demonstrate how efficient the technology could become.

Japanese infrastructure technology firm Kyocera announced that it will participate in the self-driving bus test, organised by the “Mobility Innovation Consortium”. The group promotes autonomous driving and is led by the East Japan Railway Company, Advanced Smart Mobility Co. Ltd., Aichi Steel Corporation, SoftBank Corp, Nippon Signal Co and the NEC Corporation.

The tests will take place until March 2019 and are designed to evaluate self-driving technologies for bus transit applications around the world. This includes automated lane-maintenance control, speed control, parking assist, and alternating passage tests on JR East’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines.

Kyocera will support the installation and maintenance of roadside units for vehicle-to-infrastructure communications. Through multiple BRT experiments, the companies aim to identify and solve technology issues that stand in the way of commercialising autonomous bus transit.

Technologies being tested include lane maintenance and speed control using magnetic sensors, precision docking in bus stops, dealing with approaching vehicles and GPS navigation and distance measurements.

Feature: The new trucks and vans due in 2019

19 December 2018

After a busy period for new launches in 2018, the year ahead doesn’t show any signs of slowing down in the commercial vehicle market, with a raft of new vehicles due to arrive over the next 12 months.

It’s set to be a busy year for Ford, with the all-new Fiesta van due to go on sale at the start of the year, after its initial reveal at the 2018 CV Show. A retail version of the Transit Custom PHEV is also due by mid-year, along with the new 2019 Ranger, which has just been launched in the USA with a 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine.

There’s some new engine news from Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroen, too, with the recently launched Combo Cargo, Partner and Berlingo trio of small vans getting a new 1.5-litre 130PS turbo diesel engine in Q1. A 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine is also due and will arrive in the second half of 2019.

Electric power will be the core focus for the German manufacturers next year, with both Mercedes-Benz Vans and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles set to introduce new EV powertrains.

The Mercedes-Benz eSprinter and eVito will both arrive by mid-year, while Volkswagen’s eCrafter will also hit the market, targeted at urban deliveries. The eCrafter will also spawn an electric version of the MAN TGE, the lightest vehicle in the Volkswagen Group’s truck manufacturer’s line-up, which is based on the Crafter panel van.

There’s big news, too, from Mercedes-Benz Trucks, whose flagship Actros gets a new look and revised engine range, as well as a host of safety-based technology features, including rear view cameras in lieu of mirrors.

Mitsubishi is about to put the Shogun Sport Commercial into dealerships, based on the road-going SUV but with the back seats removed, whilst later next year it will introduce the new L200 pick-up to the UK. The Thai-built truck was revealed earlier this year, but it will be spring before it comes to the UK market.

Also due in showrooms shortly is Toyota’s Land Cruiser van, while the company is also expanding its Authorised Conversions range, focusing on the Proace and Hilux pick-up.

There’s a brand new entry to the pick-up market, too, with the LDV T60 set to make its debut. The Chinese-built truck will be available as a single or double cab, with a choice of two or four-wheel-drive. The right-hand drive version of the T60 went into production last month and is already on sale in Australia, with its UK debut expected to be at the 2019 CV Show in April. LDV is also planning to expand its electric van range, with a brand new platform known as the EV31, which will form the basis for a new smaller van due to arrive in showrooms by 2020.

Another complete newcomer to the market will be LEVC’s new van. The company, which makes the range-extended EV London Taxi, has developed a commercial vehicle on the iconic black cab’s platform, with an electric powertrain and range-extending petrol engine. LEVC is part of the Chinese Geely business, which also owns Volvo, so the three-cylinder petrol engine that powers the range extender is based on a Volvo design.

Volvo’s truck range is also set to see some new arrivals in 2019, with the FE and FL electric models aimed at urban operations, such as waste collection.

Many of the new vehicles will be on show at the CV Show 2019, which takes place at the NEC, Birmingham, from April 30 to May 2. Visitor registration for the free-to-attend show, which is the UK’s biggest indoor automotive expo, will go live in January at www.cvshow.com