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Waitrose first in Europe with long range CNG truck fleet

Waitrose launches Europe’s first fleet of renewable biomethane (CNG)-fuelled Scania trucks with game-changing high-pressure carbon fibre tanks that enable up to 500-mile (≈800 km) range.

Waitrose unveils Europe’s most advanced fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered trucks (photo courtesy CNG Fuels).

Waitrose unveils Europe’s most advanced fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered trucks (photo courtesy CNG Fuels).

CNG Fuels, a UK supplier of renewable biomethane fuel, and Waitrose, the UK-based supermarket major within the John Lewis Partnership, have announced that the supermarket group has introduced Europe’s most advanced fleet of CNG (compressed natural gas)-powered trucks with a range of up to 500 miles (≈ 804 km). Ten new Scania-manufactured CNG trucks entered operation for Waitrose in January and will be used to make deliveries to the company’s stores in the Midlands and the North.

High pressure carbon-fibre fuel tanks

The trucks will use game-changing technology developed jointly with Scania, the Swedish truck, engine and bus brand within Volkswagen Truck & Bus GmbH and Agility Fuel Solutions, a US-based CNG fuel systems and cylinders company.

They are the first in Europe to use twin 26-inch (≈ 66 cm) diameter carbon fibre fuel tanks. These can store gas at 250 bar of pressure increasing the range from around 300 miles (≈ 480 km) to as much as 500 (≈ 804 km). It will allow them to always run entirely on biomethane, which is 35 percent to 40 percent cheaper than diesel and, according to CNG Fuels, emits up to 70 percent less carbon dioxide (CO2).

– 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, said Philip Fjeld, CEO of CNG Fuels.

The carbon fibre tanks, which are already in use in the US, were adapted and certified for the European market by Agility Fuel Solutions, thereby offering significant advantages over the standard European set-up of eight steel gas tanks. In addition, the vehicles are half a tonne lighter, hold more gas and can cover a greater distance depending on the load being carried. They are quicker to refuel and easier to maintain.

– We are seeing a shift to natural gas because it allows companies to control fuel costs, meet sustainability goals, and take care of drivers. CNG costs less than diesel and has lower tailpipe emissions. In addition, our high-capacity fuel tanks increase route efficiency and driver confidence. It’s a win-win for everyone, said Todd Sloan, Vice President Research and New Product Development, Agility Fuel Solutions.

Short payback thanks to fuel savings

Each of Waitrose’s new CNG trucks costs 50 percent more upfront than a conventional diesel fuelled truck, but will repay the extra costs in two to three years with fuel savings of £15 000 to £20 000 a year depending on mileage. The vehicles are likely to operate for at least five more years, generating overall lifetime savings of £75 000 to £100 000 compared with a diesel equivalent in addition to reducing fossil CO2 emissions.

– 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, said Justin Laney, General Manager Central Transport for the John Lewis Partnership.

– 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 the considerable operational advantages which come with having Scania as the single source of supply, said David Burke, Specialist Sales Executive – Gas for Scania (Great Britain) Ltd.

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