“No silver bullet” for alternative fuels, say truck manufacturers

London at dawn

Electric vehicles could be the future in European cities, although there is no “silver bullet” solution to alternative fuels, according to leading truck manufacturers.

Speaking to Freight in the City at the Microlise Transport Conference last month, MAN Truck and Bus UK MD Thomas Hemmerich said: “The politicians will set some new laws and regulations, and we will be pretty fast with the e-mobility” (fully electric vehicles).

“London is one example, in 2019/2020 we will have zero emissions in London, and other cities in Europe like Paris are heading the same way,” he added. “E-mobility is the future.”

But Martin Flach, product director at Iveco, argued the suitability of a diesel alternative rested on the type of vehicle and the job it’s required for.

He said: “On a daily basis, there is yet another anti-diesel argument from the media. So operators are now seriously looking into the alternatives.

“The two viable ones are electric vehicles on the smaller vehicles – and then on the medium, heavy and even light we use natural gas and biomethane to reduce CO2 and NOX and particulates.

“It depends on the vehicle and the job. So they will work but it’s not one size fits all.”

Scania (GB)’s aftersales director Mark Grant added with Euro-6 technology, there are parts of London where the air coming out of HGVs is cleaner than the air that went in.

He said: “We are being badly represented at the moment on the issue of diesel engines. The SMMT and other people need to start shouting about the good the transport industry does for vehicle emissions.

“There isn’t a genuine alternative to diesel at the moment, there’s lots of new technologies coming, but the you can’t just say diesel is bad.”

He added: “The technology takes years to build and we’re in the very early stages. So let’s not kill off the diesel vehicle yet. Let’s continue to work with newer technology to keep clean vehicles, and we will move to gas and electric and hybrid, but there isn’t a silver bullet.”