Mercedes-Benz eTruck trials begin

21 February 2017

The world’s first all-electric heavy duty truck is set to go into limited production later this year, with trials taking place in the German market before being rolled out to cities across Europe.

The Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck was first shown at the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover last September, and the brand’s parent company, Daimler, has committed to putting it into small scale production, with a build number initially in double figures.

The Urban eTruck has a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 25 tonnes and is claimed to have a range of up to 200 miles depending on load and operational conditions.

Stefan Buchner, Head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks worldwide, said, “Following the world premiere in September 2016 at the International Commercial Vehicle Show the customer reaction was outstanding. We are currently talking to around 20 potential customers from the waste, foodstuffs and logistics sectors. With [this] small series, we are now rapidly taking the next step towards production. By 2020 we want to be on the market with the series generation.”

With a payload of 12.8 tonnes, the Urban eTrucks will be deployed in real-life transport situations, with Daimler aiming to get customer feedback and measure how the eTruck performs in a true working environment. Charging times, battery life, range and system configurations will all be closely managed and observed.

The demo trucks will be equipped with refrigerated, box and platform bodies. Together with a special charger which takes into account the increased demands on a truck, the vehicles will be handed over to the customers to use for a period of 12 months, during which they will be supported by Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ road testing department.

Stefan Buchner added, “When it comes to future technological issues, 2017 will be our year of implementation: step by step we are developing the vehicles and systems to achieve market maturity.”

Europe’s largest single operator electric bus fleet to arrive this autumn

21 February 2017

The neighbouring Belgian cities of Charleroi and Namur are to jointly have access to Europe’s biggest single operator fleet of electric buses when they go into service in October.

Together, the cities have ordered 90 Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrid buses as well as 12 charging stations, which will be supplied by opportunity charging specialists ABB. The buyer is public transport company TEC Group, which operates the franchise for the neighbouring cities.

The order from TEC Group covers 55 buses for Charleroi and another 35 buses for Namur. ABB will supply 4 charging stations to Charleroi and 8 charging stations to Namur.

“This order is a new milestone in our electromobility drive and confirms the competitiveness of our offer,” said Volvo Buses President Håkan Agnevall. “We can see that more and more of the world’s cities are choosing electrified city bus traffic in order to deal with poor air quality and noise.”

“The common interface for fast charging of buses and trucks, OppCharge, is gaining ground. The use by many suppliers of a common interface will facilitate the transition to electromobility in the world’s cities.”

The operator, TEC Group, previously ordered 11 Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrids along with charging stations for Namur, a system that became operational in January this year. Once the 35 new buses take to the roads, 90 per cent of Namur’s public transport will be electrified.

“As a public transport company, the TEC Group is very proud to be a leader [with] the energy efficiency of its fleet,” said Vincent Peremans, CEO TEC Group. “This strategic investment will improve the quality of life in the main city centres, and will allow the Walloon Region to achieve its environmental goals. The hybrid technology is the best compromise between the operational constraints and the energy efficiency for urban buses today.”

Volvo’s electric hybrids and ABB’s fast-charging systems are based on a common interface known as OppCharge, where the charging stations can also be used by electrified buses from other manufacturers. OppCharge is now being implemented as a common interface in more than 12 countries.

Iveco introduces dedicated ‘Truck Stations’

21 February 2017

Iveco has introduced 24 dedicated ‘Truck Stations’ across the UK, specifically dedicated to the needs of heavy truck operators, with a focus on maximising uptime for haulage companies.

The accreditation scheme has clear requirements, including a specialised workshop dedicated to the specific needs of heavy truck fleets, expert staff training, extended opening hours and higher parts availability.

By the end of 2017, the company aims to have 250 Truck Stations in place across Europe, including more in addition to the 24 already announced for the UK.

Through the Truck Stations, each customer will be given an Uptime Guarantee, a brand promise for all customers taking delivery of the New Stralis XP or NP that minimises the time the vehicle spends off the road.

The new Iveco Stralis XP and NP trucks will benefit from a ‘priority lane’, which puts them first in line for receiving technical support. The Truck Stations go beyond normal workshop facilities, too, to include tyre replacement and truck washing facilities. Each will offer a comfortable waiting room with TV for truck drivers, free Wi-Fi, drinks machines and access to shower facilities.

Truck Stations also have arrangements in place with local hotels for providing accommodation, including a transfer facility to and from the dealership to enable overnight servicing. To ensure these levels of service are maintained, every Truck Station will be subject to an annual audit to retain its certification.

With extended opening hours, drivers are able to make contact with the Truck Station via phone, Iveco’s ‘NON-STOP’ mobile app or the vehicle’s on-board telematics system. Directions to the nearest Truck Station can be provided on a smartphone or tablet using the Iveco Dealer Locator, which geo-locates the driver’s current position and provides directions through its navigation function.

Pierre Lahutte, Iveco Brand President, said, “Our ambition is to provide the best service to our customers together with our Uptime Guarantee promise. With the Truck Station project we aim to create a specialised heavy truck service network on the main transport corridors across Europe.”

CV Show 2017 – the countdown begins…

22 February 2017

With just over eight weeks to go until it opens to the public, this year’s CV Show looks like being one of the busiest and most relevant yet.

Over the past 12 months, the CV market has seen quite a significant amount of change, with record van sales and truck registrations also showing a steady increase. There’s also been a momentous growth in the pick-up sector, which shows no signs of slowing down – new trucks from Mercedes-Benz and Isuzu (which will be launching its new D-MAX at the Show) are just two of the examples that will be expanding the market further.

The CV market, then, is in good health. Economic growth is ahead of some of the pessimistic forecasts we saw last year and the home delivery market is booming, all of which means that CV Show 2017 has grown to be 10 per cent bigger than last year in terms of exhibition space, with over 400 exhibitors and most floor space already sold out.

More than ever, then, the Show is a must-attend event for anyone involved in the freight transport, distribution, logistics and associated industries.

“The CV Show caters for every operator’s requirements and is purposely designed to be a one-stop shop for anyone involved in these industries,” said CV Show Director, Rob Skelton. “For 2017, the show is bigger than ever and we look forward to building yet again on visitor numbers, which increased to almost 21,000 in 2016.”

The Show will feature exhibitors spanning the whole road transport, distribution and logistics supply business. From truck, van and trailer manufacturers through to fork lift trucks, insurers, tyre companies, telematics and training providers, fuels and lubricants suppliers and more.

But the big news for 2017 is the return of heavy truck manufacturers to the event, with DAF and MAN taking exhibition space along with Iveco main distributor Guest Trucks. Several major trailer suppliers will also be present, including SDC, Don-Bur, Chereau, Gray and Adams, TransDek and Cartwright.

DAF Trucks will return to its traditional location in Hall 5 adjacent to an additional, large outside exhibition area, which will be home to the company’s new Showtrekker hospitality trailer.

On show will be a mix of models from the company’s LF, CF and XF ranges supported by DAF experts from across the company. DAF Trucks in-house finance division, PACCAR Financial, will also be present, showing DAF First Choice, its approved used programme.

“We’re very excited to be back at the CV Show in 2017 and to be flying the flag for the heavy truck industry,” said DAF Marketing Manager, Phil Moon, “We’ve enjoyed a market leading position for over two decades now, and it’s for good reason.

“We’re a very sociable company, too,” he said, “and CV Show visitors will be made to feel very welcome on the DAF stand, in our outside exhibition area and on our fantastic new Showtrekker hospitality unit.”

Meanwhile, MAN will be using the show for the UK public debut of its new van – the TGE – alongside its range of heavy trucks.

“The TGE will fit seamlessly into the MAN family and will mean there is an MAN vehicle to meet every application across the commercial transport market,” said Martin Pickering, MAN Truck and Bus Marketing Communications Manager.

The MAN TGE will fill the requirement for a light commercial vehicle with a gross weight rating between 3 tonnes and 5.5 tonnes and will be ideal for everyday light transport tasks in the transport and haulage sector.

“The attraction of the CV Show for a leading manufacturer such as MAN is not just the number of visitors, but the quality of those visitors. It is a fabulous networking opportunity for us and allows us to meet with our existing clients and build strong leads with potential customers,” added Pickering, “footfall at the show is always impressive.”

Finally, Iveco will be represented via Guest Trucks, its biggest heavy truck dealer group, which will also have a sizeable stand.

Following the continued success and popularity of its two specialist sectors, the Show will once again feature Workshop and Cool zones, which will be features in themselves.

Workshop, in Hall 4, will be the shop window into a massive range of products covering everything needed to keep vehicles running at maximum efficiency, from OE components and replacement parts to maintenance management systems, garage, workshop and bodyshop equipment.

For those moving goods to be kept at a constantly controlled temperature the Cool zone is a must visit. A huge range of refrigerated vehicles and bodywork, side by side with the latest fridge units, monitoring equipment and other products specific to cold chain operations will be on display.

The show will also be a shop window into the world of telematics, one of the fastest developing areas of the CV aftermarket. Popular last year were a number of companies offering systems to aid driver awareness, such as video surround systems and in-cab cameras, but with an increased focus on the safety of vulnerable road users, with schemes such as CLOCS, there will be an even greater emphasis this year on systems that help operators meet compliance.

Other new technologies in the public eye will be alternative fuels and retrofit systems, designed to allow operators the technology they need to operate in upcoming clean air zones.

CV Show Director, Rob Skelton, added, “Yet again, the CV Show promises visitors the opportunity to fulfil all of their sourcing needs under one roof. From truck, van, trailer and fork lift manufacturers through to ancillary service providers, the show is the perfect business-to-business environment for any individual or company involved in road transport.”

“In 2017, the show is bigger than ever and we look forward to building yet again on visitor numbers, which increased to almost 21,000 in 2016. As such, we encourage visitors to register now to avoid queueing, and also receive important updates in the run-up to the event.”

To register to attend the CV Show for free, go to www.cvshow.com

Waitrose introduces CNG truck fleet

15 February 2017

One of the UK’s leading supermarket chains has introduced a fleet of 10 new compressed natural gas (CNG) powered trucks with a 500-mile delivery range, operating in the North and Midlands.

Waitrose, in association with CNG Fuels, a supplier of renewable biomethane fuel, will use technology developed jointly with truck manufacturer Scania and Agility Fuel Solutions, an American CNG fuel systems and cylinders company.

A total of 10 new Scania CNG trucks entered operation for Waitrose in January and are the first in Europe to use twin 26-inch diameter carbon fibre fuel tanks which store gas at 250 bar of pressure to increase range from around 300 miles to as much as 500. It will allow them to run entirely on biomethane, which is 35-40% cheaper than diesel and emits 70% less CO2.

The carbon fibre tanks, which are already in use in the US, were adapted and certified for the European market by Agility Fuel Solutions. The vehicles are half a tonne lighter than those with similar steel tanks, hold more gas and can cover a greater distance depending on the load being carried.

Each of Waitrose’s new CNG trucks costs 50% more than one which runs on diesel, but will repay the extra costs in two to three years with annual fuel savings of £15,000-£20,000 (depending on mileage). Its vehicles are likely to operate for at least five more years, generating overall lifetime savings of £75,000-£100,000 compared with a diesel equivalent and will save more than 100 tonnes of CO2 a year (versus diesel), the partnership claims.

Justin Laney, General Manager Central Transport for the John Lewis Partnership (which incorporates Waitrose) said, “With Europe’s most advanced CNG trucks, we will be able to make deliveries to our stores without having to refuel away from base. Using biomethane will deliver significant environmental and operational benefits to our business. It’s much cleaner and quieter than diesel, and we can run five gas trucks for the same emissions as one diesel lorry.”

Philip Fjeld, CEO of CNG Fuels, added, “High pressure carbon-fibre fuel tanks demolish the ‘range anxiety’ concerns that have made many hauliers reluctant to move away from diesel to CNG. Renewable biomethane is far cheaper and cleaner than diesel, and, with a range of up to 500 miles, it is a game-changer for road transport operators.”

David Burke, Specialist Sales Executive – Gas for Scania (Great Britain) Limited, said, “Together with Waitrose and CNG Fuels we are developing a new UK market sector for dedicated gas vehicles which we believe will supersede the heavier dual-fuel models seen up until now. In addition to being cleaner and quieter than dual-fuel vehicles, our dedicated gas trucks offer considerable operational advantages.”

Haulier to operate gas-powered rigids

21 February 2017

Nationwide freight and logistics operator Howard Tenens is set to operate the UK’s first pair of 26-tonne rigid-bodied gas-powered trucks as part of the government’s £20m Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial.

As part of a consortium led by gas specialist Air Liquide, the haulier will use the government grant funding to purchase the two new Scania rigids, which will run entirely on biomethane produced from organic waste.

The trucks will operate out of the company’s depot in Swindon, Wilts, and will be used on a number of its major client contracts, such as Toolstation and Honda.

It isn’t the first time that Howard Tenens has been involved with gas-powered vehiucles, having previously operated 36 dual-fuel trucks as part of the Cenex Low Carbon Truck Trial.

Ben Morris, executive director at Howard Tenens, said, “Adding these new trucks to the Howard Tenens fleet seemed like a natural development in our ongoing journey to use gas vehicles.”

“These new vehicles will reduce carbon emissions by around 70% compared to a normal diesel engine and [are] the most viable option available to us for reducing our carbon footprint.”

A gas refuelling station will be installed at the haulier’s Swindon depot in order to deal with the infrastructure issues associated with the fuel, while local company Advanced Plasma Power has committed to producing the biomethane for the trial through sustainable production methods, including recycling household rubbish.

Not only does this process reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfill in the local community, but it also generates a clean and sustainable fuel.

Rolf Stein, CEO at Advanced Plasma Power, said, “The biomethane project sets out with a goal to provide sustainable and low cost solutions to the challenges of decarbonising heating and transport.”

Haulier’s new fleet is a work of art

21 February 2017

One of the UK’s biggest distributors of temperature controlled goods is supporting the work of local artists by using 10 of its trailers as blank canvases, celebrating the achievements of famous residents from the region in which it is based.

The fleet of 10 Freshlinc trailers, based at the company’s head office depot in Pinchbeck, Lincolnshire, now wear bespoke works of art, after Kent-based vehicle graphics specialists RGVA applied the high definition vinyl wraps to them as part of the campaign to encourage people to engage in the arts.

Each of the 13-metre Schmitz Cargobull trailer features a different famous resident from the Boston and South Holland region of Lincolnshire who has made a significant impact on the world, including the founder of the Royal College of Nursing, Dame Sarah Swift.

Transported – the community arts organisation that commissioned the project – asked Freshlinc employees to nominate subjects for the project, and the staff who made the winning suggestions are also featured on the respective trailer’s rear door graphics alongside an explanation of their choice.

Freshlinc’s Commercial Director, Ashley Holland, says, “Transported aims to bring art into the community, so this is a perfect collaboration as thousands of people see our trailers every single day. We have effectively put an art gallery on wheels.”

“It’s creative campaigns like this that underline just how powerful truck-side promotions can be in reaching vast audiences.”

The refrigerated trailers will travel an average 2,500 miles each week across the UK and Europe for the next three to six years.

The self-adhesive vinyl designs, produced by local design agency Electric Egg, were latex printed on 3M IJ40 laminated vinyl, and are among the most detailed the team at RGVA has fitted to trailers of this size. The reproductions were fitted at Freshlinc’s base over a three week period.

More VW Transporters to bolster AA breakdown fleet

21 February 2017

The UK’s largest motoring organisation, the AA, has chosen Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles to supply 158 new vans to replace patrol vehicles that are coming to the end of their working lives.

The additional vehicles are in addition to 500 VW Transporters ordered by the AA last year, which are all converted at the breakdown provider’s own conversion centre in Oxfordshire, where its 2,200-strong fleet is prepared for roadside rescue action.

The Transporters will be used as roadside and recovery vehicles, specially-equipped with warning beacons, racking and a deployable recovery trolley, built into the load compartment.

Twin batteries, racking for tools and a higher spec driver’s seat, among other options, have been added to each vehicle. Out of the 158 Transporters, 24 have a DSG gearbox, allowing for a smoother drive and better fuel economy. These are expected to be used in congested urban areas.

The AA’s new Transporters come with Volkswagen’s award-winning aftersales programme, with 72 dedicated Volkswagen Van Centres and 24 Authorised Repairers across the UK, as well as – ironically – 24 hour roadside assistance provided by the AA.

Chris Wiltshire, Fleet Engineer for The AA said, “We have a vehicle that has been developed to suit our needs, and which is converted with specialist racking to accommodate the AA’s tow system, additional equipment and tools.”

“The close working partnership provides services to The AA’s wider customer base and supports Volkswagen Group by providing the dedicated Volkswagen breakdown assistance service.”

UK truck market remains strong as demand grows in 2016

13 February 2017

HGV registrations increase in 2016, up 5.3% to 46,231 units.
Demand for rigid vehicles drives growth, up 17.0% compared with 2015.
2016 ends on a positive, with steady 2.3% rise in Q4.

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Registrations of new heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) rose 5.3% to 46,231 units in 2016, according to figures released by SMMT, marking the sector’s third consecutive year of growth. The year ended on a positive note, with 13,555 new HGVs registered in Q4 – a 2.3% improvement on the same period in 2015.

Rigid vehicles continued to fuel the market throughout 2016, with both the >6-16T and >16T segments experiencing double-digit growth – up 21.6% and 14.5% respectively. The artics segment, meanwhile, ended the year down by -7.5%, but in the fourth quarter bucked the downward trend set earlier in the year, rising by 0.7% as an uplift in demand for 3+ axle artics compensated for a decline in 2 axle vehicles.

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Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

Another year of growth for the HGV market in 2016 is a positive sign for the sector, particularly as it follows such an exceptionally strong 2015. HGVs are essential for transporting vital goods around the country and their demand provides a barometer for the UK economy, so these results are certainly welcome. Looking ahead, we must ensure business uncertainty is minimised so that this success continues

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Download the HGV registrations press release and data table.

FedEx commits to self-driving future

15 February 2017

One of the biggest names in global deliveries, FedEx, has stated that automated technology and self-driving vans will play a major part in its future.

According to FedEx Chief Information Officer, Rob Carter, automated technology and artificial intelligence will completely transform the delivery business. Carter is responsible for setting the technology agenda across FedEx’s various companies, which operate in 220 countries.

FedEx is already working with US technology company Peloton, whose semi-autonomous systems electronically link trucks into platoons. The software, which uses wireless vehicle-to-vehicle communication to enable the driver of a lead truck to control the acceleration and braking of a truck following behind, is designed to reduce wind resistance and save fuel. The technology is considered a significant step toward fully autonomous trucks, and Peloton has said it will release it in late 2017.

In an interview with the US publication Technology Review, Carter revealed that FedEx is also in the early stages of developing an ‘Alexa app’. The artificial intelligence app, developed by Amazon, enables consumers to initiate shipments from FedEx by simply talking to a smart device using commands such as “Alexa, prepare a shipment.”

Carter says FedEx is also “very much interested in” completely autonomous trucking and has partnered with several vehicle makers that specialise in such technology, including Daimler and its Freightliner truck division and Volvo.

One of the partners – Daimler – is also the parent company of Mercedes-Benz vans, which demonstrated its proposals to use autonomous vans and robots for urban deliveries at last month’s Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The proposed solution would use the company’s driverless vans to navigate to designated delivery areas for commercial customers and launch drones from their roofs to deliver packages, or pre-loaded and programmed robots from inside the load bay.

However, FedEx says legislative reform is needed in order to accommodate new technologies, with the company’s CEO, Fred Smith, calling on the US government to find ways of funding a complete infrastructure review to accommodate the new technologies.

“We must recognise that due to changes in vehicle technologies, fuel taxes cannot alone fund the system,” he said. “Alternative vehicles such as electric and natural gas need to also pay a highway user fee. This can now be easily done through technology. Consequently, FedEx supports a broad mix of revenue sources in order to avoid over-reliance on a single option.”