Why convert a diesel fleet to compressed natural gas (CNG)? Lower fuel and operational costs are two important reasons, according to corporate fleet owners that are making the switch.
Waitrose last month introduced a fleet of biomethane CNG trucks with a range of up to 500 miles.
Each of Waitrose’s new Scania CNG trucks cost 50 percent more than one that runs on diesel, but will repay the extra costs in two to three years with fuel savings of £15,000 ($18,705) to £20,000 ($24,940) a year, depending on mileage.
Its vehicles are likely to operate for at least five more years, generating overall lifetime savings of £75,000 ($93,530) to £100,000 ($124,726) compared with a diesel equivalent. Additionally, each truck will save more than 100 metric tons of CO2 a year, compared to diesel.
Truck manufacturer Scania and CNG fuel systems developer Agility Fuel Solutions developed the technology, which the companies say overcomes concerns about the distance that CNG-powered trucks are able to cover before refueling.
The technology will also make it easier for fleet operators to switch from diesel to biomethane CNG, the most cost-effective and lowest carbon alternative to diesel for heavy goods vehicles. Biomethane 35 percent to 40 percent cheaper than diesel and emits 70 percent less CO2.
Waitrose began driving the 10 new Scania-manufactured CNG trucks last month, and will use them to make deliveries to the company’s stores. While the tanks are already in use in the US, Waitrose’s fleet is the first in Europe to use twin 26-inch diameter carbon fiber fuel tanks that store gas at 250 bar of pressure to increase range from around 300 miles to as much as 500. This allows them to always run entirely on biomethane.
Agility Fuel Solutions adapted and certified the carbon fiber tanks for the European market. Compared to the standard European setup of eight steel gas tanks, these vehicles are half a ton lighter, hold more gas and can cover a greater distance depending on the load being carried. They are also quicker to refuel and easier to maintain, the company says.
“We are seeing a shift to natural gas because it allows companies to control fuel costs, meet sustainability goals, and take care of drivers,” said Agility Fuel Solutions’ Todd Sloan in a statement. “CNG costs less than diesel and has lower tailpipe emissions. In addition, our high-capacity fuel tanks increase route efficiency and driver confidence.”
UPS and Ryder are among the US corporate fleets to use biomethane-powered trucks.
In other CNG-powered fleet news, Utah’s Wasatch Front Waste & Recycling District has converted its entire fleet of 46 residential collection trucks from diesel to CNG.
“We service over 82,000 homes every week. This equates to over 1.3 million miles every year,” said Mike Allan, WFWRD deputy director over operations. “By using CNG vehicles, we can dramatically reduce the negative impact to our environment.”
The waste and recycling district cites statistics from the Natural Gas Vehicles of America, which say CNG vehicles emit 20 to 29 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than comparable gasoline or diesel fueled vehicles. This means that on an annual basis, the district is saving about 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide pollution by using CNG fuel.
Switching to CNG vehicles also works from a financial aspect, said Craig Tischner, Herriman city councilman and current chair for WFWRD’s administrative control board.
“The past two years have shown a savings of approximately $780,000 in fuel costs since we started using CNG trucks. CNG fuel is less expensive than diesel fuel,” he said.