New EU rulings may affect small hauliers in fleet acquisition
The EU has moved a step forward on new legislation changing the way that CO2 emissions are measured and also published. Manufacturers of all new lorries will have to make public both the engine fuel efficiency and the aerodynamic performance of the tractor unit attached to the truck. This may also mean that new trucks will become cheaper than second-hand units. A new form of simulation software will measure the CO2 emissions and fuel usage for a specific load, fuel and distance driven. This software, called VECTO, will check and report trailer performance as well as rig performance from 2021. There will also be random on the road testing of vehicles in service. A further part of the legislation allows for independent third parties to run and report the verification processes. While several haulage related bodies are welcoming this news, saying that it will offer greater competition and allow hauliers to select more fuel efficient vehicles, other organisations are suggesting that this may be a problem because of applying the new standards alongside existing vehicles – the fear being that good vehicles will have to be scrapped as their second-hand value will be negligible under the new legislation. This will have a significantly stronger detrimental impact on small hauliers who often rely on buying second-hand fleet which could now be removed from the market through emissions-related legislation.
What are the changes for HGV’s ?
Innovation in fuel use 1 – waste oil biofuel
While we’ve all come across biodiesel taxis, or even small public service vehicles like mini-buses, especially those run by charities or to service wide-spread rural communities, biodiesel is now making a significant contribution to UK HGV fleets. A recent LoCity Fuels in Action event revealed that at least one UK fleet is expecting to reduce fossil fuel use by 80% by 2020, by using waste oils from McDonald’s restaurants. Their target of 80% fossil fuel reduction was set in 2007 and while fleet managers and logistics teams were originally expecting to achieve the reduction by such strategies as route optimisation and better driver training, but the new biofuels have given a massive impetus to the use of waste oil in HGVs.
One reason that petrol reduction targets have rarely been met is that they were set at a time when the Internet of Things had little or no impact on commerce and most companies were projecting a decrease in deliveries whilst the reality has been an increase in individual deliveries and a reduction in single drop to bricks and mortar deliveries. As a result, while articulated lorries have increased in volume and activity, last mile delivery processes have grown exponentially to become a significant feature when measuring CO2 production.
Innovation in fuel use 2 – split cycle engines
One of the big ambitions of many engineering firms has been to develop engines that safely use various chemicals to improve performance and/or reduce tailpipe emissions. The University of Brighton, working in partnership with the technology innovation company Ricardo, has produced what it is calling a split cycle engine. The new system uses liquid nitrogen as ‘liquid air’ which is fuel-injected into one cylinder, then heated and expanded in a second cylinder. The researchers claim that this can reduce fuel consumption by 30% (which could deliver a truck saving of £9,000 per HGV per year) as well as cutting emissions. A further claim which remains to be tested in practice is that the fuel-pipe emission reductions could bring HGVs into line with the new city centre emission restrictions. The new technology, called “CryoPower” is being developed by a spin-off company that aims to take a completely new approach to large vehicle engines and hopes to come to market with a decade.
Innovation in fuel use 3 – truck manufacturers focus on urban solutions
Several Heavy Goods Vehicle manufacturers, including Skania, have recently delivered a new range of long-haul vehicles are now turning their attention to urban transport and the constraints of low carbon restrictions in city centres. All lorry manufacturers have been looking at a range of requirements including ergonomic features like better vision, reduced engine noise for long-distance drivers and improved steering in traffic. Most significant though has been the approach to lower emissions which has generally been achieved through better fuel efficiency rather than by novel fuels. 81 gas-powered HGVs are being trialled across the UK by a range of hauliers who are helping the government to assess the extent to which biomethane could be a contribution to its Low Emission Freight and Logistics trial. Alongside the HGVs, a cryogenic refrigerated trailer is also being tested – it operates a liquid nitrogen cooling system which not only has a lower energy profile but also reduces the CO2 emissions of the rig as a whole.
Innovation in fuel use 4 – update on hydrogen refuelling
One of the major limiters to the use of alternative fuels by HGVs and fleet vehicles is the limited opportunity to refuel. Hauliers have commented on the lack of infrastructure which prevents them making confident investments in alternative fuelled rather than duel-fuelled vehicles. Logistics managers are similarly frustrated by the lack of refuelling options. It’s striking that Shell is only now opening its second hydrogen refuelling site in London. The first, in February 2017, was opened in Cobham, the second at Beaconsfield Services opened in March and the third will be located at Gatwick North and is expected to be in operation by the summer. Other British cities are expected to follow suit: there is a hydrogen refuelling site in Sheffield and there are several in Swindon, although they aren’t HGV friendly. Aberdeen has several refuelling sites and both Cardiff and Manchester are gearing up for hydrogen pumps in the next twelve months. Shell commented that such developments depend on collaboration between four players: commercial vehicle manufacturers, energy providers, fleet operators and – above all – local and national government who must create the legislation that supports the use of new fuels by creating infrastructure to support refuelling.