Shell opens second hydrogen fuel pump, but remains focused on full ‘mosaic’ of alternative fuels

By the end of 2018, Shell will have opened three new hydrogen refuelling pumps on sites around London.

But the fuel giant says that its hydrogen network won’t stop there, and that it’s also committed to other alternative fuels.

In February 2017, Shell opened its first UK hydrogen refuelling point in Cobham, which was followed by a new site at Beaconsfield services today (27 March). A third, located at Gatwick North, is in the final stages of production and, while the business is yet to confirm when this will open, it’s certainly not far off.

Shell’s hydrogen business development manager Mike Copson told Freight in the City that London was a natural starting point for its hydrogen network.

“The reason that London came out as a focus was really driven by policy,” he said. “If you look at clean air policy, London really has taken the lead. Also it’s where some sites were already, and it’s got a cluster in one place. So London was the natural first.”

Opening sites in London also meant Shell had proximity to the UK H2Mobility consortium, of which it is a part. The new pump at Beaconsfield services is the firs to be opened in collaboration with the project, and was also built in partnership with ITM Power.

But Copson said Shell’s current focus on London doesn’t mean it won’t be adding hydrogen pumps further afield.

“There are going to be other cities I think following close behind. Manchester’s been quite vocal and there are other clean air city proposals on the table.

“Plus elsewhere in the UK there are already  other hydrogen sites. One in Sheffield, there’s some in Swindon. There are proposals in Cardiff. There’s a cluster in Aberdeen.”

He added: “So I think this lends itself to the point around we have to make sure we’re collaborating. When I say ‘we’ that means the energy providers, the vehicle manufacturers and the policy makers are collaborating to make sure hydrogen is deployed in a coordinated manner. We all need each other; we can’t do it on our own.”

Copson said that Shell’s focus is on the spectrum of available alternative fuels, and that he doesn’t see hydrogen as the only viable option, but rather one of many.

“Hydrogen is actually part of a range of transport fuels that we need to make a lower carbon UK a reality. So it’s actually part of what we call the fuels mosaic.

“To put it more simply, it’s not about backing a winner. It’s about saying as we move forwards, depending on the sector you’re working in and driving in and the location that you’re in, then there are going to be different fuel solutions co-existing as we go through the energy transition.”

He added that the commercial vehicle sector is “one of the most diverse sections of the industry and there are a lot of opinions as to what the next thing is going to be in terms of future fuel. And that’s because they’ve done a very, very good job of making a diesel engine that’s very clean and efficient”.

While Shell is already engaged with commercial vehicle OEMs around the world, Copson said the firm is keen to engage with the logistics industry and get to grips with its refuelling needs for the future.

“A lot of light and heavy duty OEMs are our customers, so the dialogue is happening. But we shouldn’t limit ourselves to the people we already do business with.

“We should also be speaking to industrial bodies that represent the industry to consult with them on what their take on fuels is.

“It’s a huge subject that we need to engage in pretty quickly But also understand that we’re in an energy transition, we’re not in a flicking a binary switch mode.

“We’re working towards a point in the future that no one has the answer for yet and also the timelines are a little bit elastic. So it really depends on collaboration between energy providers truck manufacturers fleet operators as well and as making sure that the policies are supporting that.”

CitySprint trials hydrogen-powered van and boosts cargo bike fleet in London

CitySprint is trialling its first hydrogen powered van in London and has more than doubled its fleet of cargo bikes.

The carrier plans to have an emission-free fleet in the city by 2020.

CitySprint has developed the van with Renault, and its client Mitie will run the vehicle in the capital for the next six months.

CitySprint will compare the vans performance to that of other green vehicles on its fleet; the courier runs four electric vans and a fleet of cargo bikes in the city.

The new van has a range of 200 miles and runs on electricity generated by hydrogen reacting with oxygen within the vehicle. The only result of the chemical reaction is water.

CitySprint has also more than doubled its fleet of cargo bikes, and now runs a total of 22, each of which can carry the same 50kg load as a small van.

Each of the bikes, that carrier claims, saves 4 tonnes of GHG emissions a year and on average  completes delivery routes 50% faster than a small van.

CitySprint CEO Patrick Gallagher said: “Since the launch of our green fleet this August, we’ve already cut back on our CO2 emissions by as much as 10 tonnes. The trail of a hydrogen van is on a long list of environmentally friendly vehicles we have tested over the years.

“We hope that along with our growing cargo bike fleet, this can prove to be a sustainable option and continue our commitment to reducing air pollution across the UK cities we operate in.”

Mercedes-Benz adds 12-speed PowerShift gearbox to UK Econic lineup

Mercedes-Benz has made its Econic more attractive to general haulage operations with the addition of a 12-speed gearbox, with Travis Perkins taking delivery of the first 10 UK equipped examples.

The low-entry vehicle has previously only been available with an automatic six-speed Allison transmission gearbox.

This Allison option, according to Mercedes, remains the most comfortable option for the refuse operations with which the Econic is more traditionally associated with.

But market demand has prompted it to introduce a 12-speed Mercedes PowerShift 3 system for both the 4×2 and 6×2 Econic axle configurations, which is intended to provide better fuel economy for haulage operations.

The 229hp Travis Perkins trucks have straight-six engines and are fitted with Massey Engineering dropside bodies and HMF long boom cranes.

Dressed in the traditional green and gold Travis Perkins colours, the trucks will work in and around London with two already on the road in Sutton.

Travis Perkins central fleet manager James Taylor said: “We have been leading calls for the Econic to be offered with the Mercedes PowerShift transmission, and it is gratifying that the manufacturer has listened to what we’ve been saying and acted on it.

“The Mercedes-Benz system offers improved fuel economy and significant cost savings, compared to the Allison version. It is our intention, therefore, to standardise on Mercedes PowerShift when placing future Econic orders.”

£220m Clean Air Fund to help local authorities tackle air pollution

A new Clean Air Fund will give financial support to local authorities attempting to address air pollution in their areas.

The £220m fund, announced by Philip Hammond in the Autumn Budget, will be paid for by higher Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) on diesel cars bought after 1 April 2018.

Hammond emphasised that that the VED rise would not apply to or affect van drivers.

A consultation into what the fund could support has been launched in conjunction with Hammond’s Budget statement.

He said: “The tax system can play an important role in protecting our environment.

“We owe it to our children that the air they breathe is clean.”

The Autumn Budget also announced a new study on the future of freight infrastructure in the UK, to be published in Spring 2019.

The NIC’s study will look at urban congestion and decarbonisation, as well as how freight can harness new technologies such as platooning.

A Transforming Cities fund for the Northern Powerhouse also played a part in Hammond’s Budget, which will focus on improving transport in UK cities

The £1.7bn from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund will target productivity-driving projects that improve connectivity and reducing congestion in the cities.

Half of the money will be distributed among the combined authorities with metro mayors, which were elected earlier this year.

The West Midlands will receive the largest chunk of this with £250m. Greater Manchester will get £243m; £134m will go to Liverpool; £80m for the West of England; £74m for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and £59m for Tees Valley.

The other half of the Transforming Cities fund will be distributed through competition for project funding.


Dennis Eagle to show Direct Vision-ready Elites at Freight in the City Expo

Dennis Eagle will be bringing two of its Elite urban trucks to Freight in the City Expo next week, which have a five-star rating in the TfL’s interim ratings for the Direct Vision Standard.

The manufacturer will have a 44-tonne Elite tractor unit on display, which has been developed with Explore Transport for the operator’s last leg journeys inside the M25.

Lee Rowland, sales and marketing manager at Dennis Eagle, said: “Their plan in operational terms is to use their conventional vehicles outside of the M25. Then for the final stage of delivery they’ll change the trailers at a satellite depot on the outskirts and use the Elite tractor units to bring the trailer into the city.”

Dennis Eagle will also have a 32-tonne tipper grab with an Elite chassis, owned by London-based customer FM Conway.

“It’s a big show for us next week,” Rowland said. “There’s a lot of momentum behind the Clocs project. We really want to promote the Elite product. It’s the best for direct visibility in the marketplace and it’s a UK manufacturer.”

Dennis Eagle staff will be on the manufacturer’s stand at the expo to talk to visitors about the benefits of the low-entry truck and the support available with the purchase of the vehicles.

Rowland said: “It is different to a standard vehicle, it’s not a day cab, it’s not what most people are used to. So a lot of it is education about how our vehicle works.

“It’s an automatic, but is geared for stop start operations. So our vehicle is tuned for the London environment. We’re confident that that’s going to go down well.”

Volvo Trucks to exhibit Direct Vision-friendly FMs at Freight in the City Expo

Volvo Trucks will focus on London’s Direct Vision Standard at the Freight in the City Expo, displaying its construction FM range in light of TfL’s interim announcement on the standard’s rating scheme.

The transport body began its second consultation on the scheme last month, along with the release of its permit proposal for its star rating system.

With TfL’s permit system based on floor height and level of vision, Volvo will have an N3 FM with a factory-fitted lower door window, narrow mirrors and camera with integrated dashboard screen.

Its stand at the Expo will also host an FM tipper grab with a medium-height chassis.

Volvo said it is displaying the trucks to engage with operators over the Direct Vision Standard, and to give them the chance to explore options other than its N3G extra-high trucks.

Volvo Trucks head of product management John Comer said while the manufacturer supports the standard, it addresses just one aspect of safe driving in urban environments.

He said: “In the city, relative speeds and traffic flow change by the second. This, to some degree, has been acknowledged in the proposed permit scheme.

“At this stage the direct vision star ratings are interim and we are now entering the second phase of the consultation process, he says.

“By exhibiting these vehicles, Volvo wants to invite operator reaction on vision and how these lower chassis will perform in service, in order to formulate views and information so that all can take part in the second consultation.”

Volvo Trucks will also display its cyclist and pedestrian training materials from its ‘See and be Seen’ scheme, which recently extended from targeting the eight plus age group to participants in secondary and adult education.

  • Don’t miss out on a free event with all the latest equipment and information about safe operations in an urban environment – register for the Freight in the City Expo today

Daimler launches all-electric Fuso eCanter truck in New York

Daimler has globally launched its all-electric truck in New York City, marking the vehicle’s entrance to the US, European and Japanese markets.

The Fuso eCanter has a range of 100kms and payload of around three tonnes.

Daimler hopes to deliver 500 eCanter units in the next two years, with a view to ramping up production in 2019.

Production of the trucks began in Tramagal, Portugal earlier this year, after trials of pre-series vehicles in the country and Germany between 2014 and 2017.

The truck made its UK debut at the Freight in the City Expo last year.

Speaking at the launch, Mitsubishi truck and bus corporation president Marc Llistosella, said: “In times, when everybody is talking about electric trucks, we are the first to actually commercialize a series produced all-electric truck.

“Having a long history in alternative drivetrains, we are proud to step into this new era. Our Fuso eCanter comes with years of customer testing, and the assurance of parts, services, and warranty through our global Fuso dealership network.”

He added: “Our new Fuso eCanter now addresses the increasing global demand for products to meet and exceed high CO2 emission standards. It offers an attractive and cost-effective alternative to combustion engines and makes electric trucks key to the future of inner city distribution.”

At the global launch in New York, Daimler announced UPS would be the first commercial partner for the electric truck.

UPS president of global fleet maintenance and engineering Carlton Rose said: “At UPS, we constantly evaluate and deploy advanced technologies that enable sustainable, innovative solutions for our fleet.

“Electric trucks make our fleet both cleaner and quieter, adding to our already more than 8,500 alternative drivetrain vehicles in service today.

“We have a long-standing global relationship with Daimler, and we welcome the opportunity to trial the Fuso eCanter as UPS continues to realize the benefits of electric trucks.”

It will also supply vehicles to a range of not-for-profit organisations including the Wildlife Conservation Society and Habitat for Humanity.

Menzies Distribution buys all-electric operator Gnewt Cargo

Menzies Distribution has bought what is thought to be the UK’s largest all-electric fleet, with its purchase of final mile delivery firm Gnewt Cargo.

London-based Gnewt Cargo runs a fleet of around 100 electric vehicles in the city, and Menzies said the acquisition will give the operator a “stronger, cleaner presence in the London market”.

Menzies MD Greg Michael said: “As a holder of the Carbon Trust Standard since 2009, Menzies Distribution has long been focused on our environmental responsibilities.

“Acquiring Gnewt was an exciting opportunity for us to advance our sustainability agenda whilst growing our neutral consolidation offer to the parcel market.

“Everyone recognises that goods need to be moved in and around congested city centres. The Gnewt model shows it can be done successfully whilst minimising environmental impacts.”

A spokesman for Menzies Distribution told Freight in the City that the Gnewt Cargo name would remain in place, as it was an important brand in the sustainable transport space.

Menzies’ long-term goal is to build a neutral, UK-wide parcel consolidation service open to all parcel carriers.

It also strengthened its position in Ireland earlier this year, when it bought EM News Distribution for €3.6m.

Last month Menzies backed out of talks to be bought by DX Group, after the potential buyer predicted significant losses in its upcoming results.

RT Keedwell buys urban Montracon trailers

RT Keedwell has put into service its first urban delivery vehicles, with two new 9.7m length Montracon trailers.

Replacing a 17- and 26-tonne rigid vehicle, the operator said it chose the urban trailers “as we feel they are more maneuverable and more versatile” than their predecessors.

The trailers will predominantly distribute pallets in Glasgow and Somerset.

They are mounted on second-hand Mercedes-Benz Axor tractor units, which Keedwell said it chose because they will cover relatively low mileage.

The trailers are fitted with tail lifts and rear steers. The operator said it was too early to say how the vehicles were performing.

Royal Mail begins electric truck trial in London

Royal Mail has started a trial of nine autonomous-ready, fully-electric trucks in London.

The nine vehicles, a combination of 3.5-, 6- and 7.5-tonnes are the first to be built by automotive technology firm Arrival in partnership with Royal Mail.

The trucks will be operating out of Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant depot in London, which has been fitted with specialist charging points, for “several months”.

They will be used to transport packages between DCs in and around the city and have a zero-emission range of 100 miles.

Royal Mail said that between the lightweight materials used to build the vehicles and Arrival’s electric power technology, the vehicles cost 50% less to run than its current fleet.

The trucks are autonomous-ready and comply with London mayor Sadiq Khan’s Direct Vision Standard.

Royal Mail’s fleet MD Paul Gatti said: “Royal Mail is delighted to be collaborating with Arrival and pioneering the adoption of large electric commercial vehicles. We will be putting them through their paces over the next several months to see how they cope with the mail collection demands from our larger sites.

“We have trialled electric trucks before but not of this innovative design and look forward to seeing what additional benefits they can bring to our existing fleet of 49,000 vehicles.”

Arrival CEO Denis Sverdlov said: “We are thrilled to partner with Royal Mail using our electric vehicles. Cities like London will benefit from a switch to electric, in terms of both pollution and noise.

“Most importantly we are priced the same as diesel trucks removing the main barrier to go electric.”