Interest in gas-powered vehicles is growing strongly. The driving forces for the trend are new gas finds, lower gas prices, environmental considerations and increasing demand for quieter vehicles.
At 3 a.m. in the centre of Paris, Kamel Terzi’s shift is about to get underway. A driver for the greengrocer chain Biocoop, Terzi delivers vegetables and other products to Parisians using the latest addition to the company’s fleet of 35 vehicles: a gas-powered Scania P 340 truck. As he quietly drives along the city streets, his first stop is a convenience store beside the Alésia metro station in southern Paris.
“This is a flexible and comfortable truck that is nice to drive,” says Terzi. “But it’s the silence that makes the big difference – now you can even hear when the refrigerating machine gets going. The reduced noise is much appreciated by us drivers and the residents who live close to the stores that we deliver to during the night.”
Increased interest in gas
The delivery of the first gas-powered distribution truck in France with Euro 6 engines is one of the many clear indicators of the increased interest in gas. Since the new Euro 6 engines were launched, Scania has delivered more than 250 gas-powered buses and trucks – mainly distribution and refuse trucks. And discussions are ongoing with a growing number of customers, particularly in Europe and in Asian markets such as China, Malaysia and Thailand.
“The strongest driving forces for gas include increased environmental considerations among our customers and also among large buyers of transport services, such as grocery chains and IKEA,” says Zoran Stojanovic, Product Manager for gas trucks at Scania. “Gas prices are also falling in many markets.”
Meets stringent emission standards
“A third important driver is more stringent emission standards and local regulations governing noise in inner city regions,” Stojanovic says. “Noise emissions are halved with gas-powered vehicles, and carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by 15 to 20 percent compared with diesel. If a company uses renewable biogas in the way Biocoop does, CO2 emissions are reduced by 90 percent. Another advantage of gas is that the fuel is easier on the engine components.”
In the past, gas-powered trucks have been hampered from having a major breakthrough by inadequate infrastructure and insufficient pumping stations. There is also a shortage of renewable biogas in many markets.
Operators engage in gas distribution
“But now there is a clear change under way,” says Stojanovic. “More and more operators are interested in gas distribution and the traditional chains are facing new competition from energy giants such as Germany-based E.ON.”
Stojanovic says somewhat weak infrastructure is one of the reasons gas power has mainly had an impact in shorter transport services in metropolitan regions, such as in distribution trucks, refuse collection and buses.
Increased supply of CNG and LNG
“However, a change is under way here too,” he says. “With the increasing supply of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the extension of distribution networks, we will see gas in more applications than is the case today. Long-distance haulage is an area that is about to take off, and at Scania we have already delivered a few tractor units to customers in Europe.”