Operators and manufacturers give thumbs up to DfT driving licence proposal to aid alternative fuel vans

Operators and manufacturers have given strong support for a DfT proposal, currently under consultation, to allow category B (car) licence holders to operate heavier vans if they are fitted with alternative fuel systems.

It has been welcomed by those firms wishing to increase their use of low-emission delivery vehicles without losing out on payload or needing to acquire a category C licence.

The DfT proposes that standard licence holders be allowed to drive vans weighing up to 4.25 tonnes if they are powered by electricity, natural gas, LPG or hydrogen.

It says this will help level the playing field by addressing the payload penalty that puts operators of cleaner vans at a commercial disadvantage compared with conventional vehicles.

Launching the consultation, transport minister Jesse Norman said: “We want to make it easier for businesses to opt for cleaner vehicles, and these proposals are designed to do just that.”

Road traffic estimates show there has been a rapid rise in HGV traffic over the past 20 years. In 2016 vans clocked up 49.1 billion miles – an increase of 23% when compared with 2006.

Ocado head of fleet Stuart Skingsley said: “At Ocado, we are keen to incorporate the latest low-emission technologies in our vehicle fleet, but we have been unable to do so due to the extra weight of the technology and category B licence restrictions.

“This vital derogation would allow us to field the latest alternatively fuelled vans, reducing harmful emissions and improving the UK’s air quality.”

Payload is paramount

Iveco alternative fuels director Martin Flach told Freightinthecity.com that customers are increasingly looking at low-emission vans. However, for those operating 3.5-tonne vehicles, payload remains paramount, and this has resulted in a lower take-up of alternatively fuelled vehicles.

“As a key alternative fuels vehicle manufacturer that believes in sustainable transport, Iveco has been campaigning on this for several years, so we’re delighted with the proposal that has been made,” he added.

“If the plan is accepted, we believe it would boost the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles and improve air quality. The vehicles are available, we just need the government to ensure businesses are being given the opportunity to make the most of them.”

His view was echoed by Chris Jones, head of sales at electric vehicle manufacturer BD Auto (vehicle pictured), who told Freightinthecity.com he was pleased the UK was considering a proposal already in place across other European countries.

“In the UK, we are lagging behind our European counterparts, and if we are to address the issues of air quality in our cities then action must be taken to remove any barriers to adopting electric commercial vehicles.”

He added: “Many of our customers welcome the proposal and several 
have already lobbied the government on these reforms in order to place electric commercial vehicles on to their fleets.”

Phil Eaves, director of supply chain at organic food delivery specialist Farmdrop, said: “Under these proposed changes, more businesses will be able to satisfy the demand for home deliveries without dirtying the air.

“As the only online grocery company to operate an electric-only fleet, access to larger vehicles would be beneficial to Farmdrop as we can make more deliveries with fewer vehicles,” he added.

Feeling the weight

Gas supply firm Gasrec has also been lobbying for the government to allow extra weight to accommodate alternative fuel technology, and welcomes the proposal.

CEO Rob Wood said: “The driving licensing regime reduces the driver pool available for alternative-fuelled HGVs as they often marginally exceed the 3.5-tonne licence limit for category B licence holders. This places a cost and operational burden on the adoption of new technology despite the wide availability of suitable vehicles.

He added: “These vehicles have the potential to make a significant contribution to improving air quality in urban areas and we support the introduction of an appropriate licence derogation to remove this adoption hurdle.”

Peter Harris, director of sustainability, Europe, UPS, admitted that it 
had been “a challenge” to deploy alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles for the range and payload that it required in the N1 vehicle and B driver licence category, because “alternative fuel systems, such as electric, affect the overall vehicle weight more negatively compared to liquid fuels such as diesel”.

He added: “Allowing operators to maintain payload at the same level as with diesel will encourage the wider adoption of alternative fuel solutions.”

Questions

FTA head of licensing, policy and compliance James Firth said that members were being consulted on the proposals.

He said some would like to invest in alternatively fuelled vans, but as a heavier vehicle is needed to move the same payload as a traditional vehicle, it pushes them over the 3.5-tonne threshold and brings with it “a raft of regulation”.

“However, many have said that compared to the cost of the vehicles, the increased regulatory burdens are not the barrier to uptake.”

Firth added: “It is also argued that, if the case can be made that vehicles up to 4.25 tonnes are safe and do not require an increased regulatory framework, then what propels that vehicle should make no difference, and let’s have that deregulation applied to all vehicles.”

The FTA now plans to consult with all its members in the coming weeks.

Van leasing provider Arval questioned whether extra permissible weight would place more responsibility on van drivers and operators.

“The question facing fleets is whether they feel it is responsible to place drivers with standard car licences into a vehicle with a mass that has previously been seen as requiring specialised training, and into something that is 750kg heavier and twice as heavy as the largest cars,” said Arval LCV consultant Eddie Parker.

“Across the fleet sector, in recent years the discussion has tended to be about whether the driving standards for larger CVs should be applied to smaller vehicles. This proposal moves things in the opposite direction.”

In order to relax driver licensing 
rules, the UK would need to seek a temporary derogation from the EU Third Driving Licence Directive. Some EU states have already done this to allow category B licence holders to drive heavier vans.

The consultation on vehicle weights also proposes to remove a current exemption for electric vehicles to undergo MoT testing. It will run until 18 October.

First vehicles now ready for £20m Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial

Vehicles taking part in the first two projects from the government’s £20m Low Emission Freight and Logistic Trial  are now ready to hit the roads.

In January this year, funding was announced for 20 firms that came up with innovate ways to deploy more low- and zero-emission freight vehicles in UK fleets.

The first two projects – the Dedicated to Gas trial and the KERS-Urban Consortium – are now ready to roll, with the rest of the schemes to be in operation by mid-2018.

In total, more than 300 low-emission vehicles will be taking part.

Led by Air Liquide, the Dedicated to Gas trial will see large fleet operators including Kuehne + Nagel, Wincanton, Asda, Brit European, Howard Tenens and Great Bear trial the effectiveness of 81 dedicated gas-powered HGVs new to the UK market as well as five new cryogenic transport refrigeration units.

The KERS-Urban consortium will trial a new hybrid kinetic energy recovery system on 20 HGVs operated by Howdens Joinery Group and Sainsbury’s Supermarkets, including both rigid and articulated HGVs.

Supplied by Alternatech, the hybrid KERS technology (pictured) will recover energy during braking and then use the energy during acceleration, which will reduce fuel consumption and emissions, particularly in city environments.

Simon Edmonds, manufacturing and materials director at Innovate UK, said: “It is excellent news that the first two projects of this pioneering trial are now roadworthy.

“The data from these trials will be invaluable to future development and commercialisation of these low carbon technologies for low-emission freight and fleet vehicles.”

Alongside the competition, TRL have been appointed to evaluate performance of the trials and capture data on the emissions savings produced, with results to appear on a dedicated website.

John Rogerson, fleet operations manager, Asda, said: “We are excited to work with Air Liquide and our other project partners to hopefully demonstrate the impact low-emissions HGV technology can have on the entire industry, while infusing the latest technology into our fleet and reducing our overall carbon footprint.”

Charlie Nissen, national transport manager of Howdens Joinery Group, said: “The trailer KERS innovation allows us to be involved in the forefront of a technology that could have the potential to reduce carbon emissions from HGVs, not just within Howdens, but across the industry.”

 

 

Grundon showcases ULEMCo hydrogen DAF at Cenex

Grundonw Waste Management DAF

Waste firm Grundon has taken delivery of a DAF truck converted to run on hydrogen fuel by ULEMCo.

On display at today’s Cenex show at Millbrook Bedforshire, ULEMCo said while it had previously retro-fitted a number of trucks and vans in the public sector, this was its first private sector contract and first DAF.

The project featured a new modular approach to conversion, according to ULEMCo. It has fitted a 10kg hydrogen unit to the side of the truck, an approach it said would enable it to lower the cost of future conversions.

Earlier this year, Grundon committed to reducing all greenhouse gas emissions from its vehicles to net zero by extending its CarbonNeutral fleet certification programme for a fourth consecutive year.

The certification means that every mile travelled by Grundon lorries and cars is officially carbon neutral.

“We are highly impressed by the potential of hydrogen dual-fuel to reduce our carbon footprint as well as reducing costs in the future,” said Grundon’s group logistics manager, John Stephens.

“The synergy of combining the use of hydrogen-fuelled vehicles with the potential production of hydrogen from waste treatment processes makes it especially compelling.”

Scotland to phase out diesel and petrol vans by 2032

Scotland plans to phase out petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032, eight years ahead of the UK government’s target.

Announcing the Scottish Government’s legislative programme for the coming year, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon laid out plans to take the lead in promoting the use of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs), with a target to phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032.

The programme also announced plans to “massively expand” electric charging, accelerate procurement of ULEVs in the public and private sectors and make the A9 Scotland’s first fully electric-enabled road.

The legislative programme also revealed plans to create a Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) “in one of Scotland’s cities” by the end of next year as well as creating  low emissions zones in Scotland’s four biggest cities by 2020 and in all Air Quality Management Areas by 2023.

Plans also include a new climate change bill next year, setting out “even more ambitious” targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Sturgeon said.

A £60m innovation fund will also be set up to encourage climate change solutions such as electricity battery storage, sustainable heating systems and electric vehicles charging.

Sturgeon said the measures would “send a clear signal that Scotland is the place for innovation in digital and low carbon technology.”

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.”

Warwick University develops electric vehicle concept based on Renault Twizy

An electric vehicle concept for the urban delivery market has been developed by design company Astheimer and WMG, Warwick University’s R&D department.

Named the Deliver-E, the vehicle is based on a Renault Twizy platform, is fitted with a 48V 6.5kWh battery system with a peak power of 36kW, and has an open-platform vehicle control system with a touchscreen interface.

The battery system is the first module produced by WMG’s new automated battery production line for electric vehicles, developed as part of the Automated Module-to-pack Pilot Line for Industrial Innovation project, which has created a UK supply chain for hybrid and electric vehicle battery packs.

Astheimer developed the WMG concept, enlarging the vehicle’s rear storage area for three online delivery baskets. It also added new body panels to the Deliver-E and fitted it with programmable LED pixel strips, which can change colour for brake and indicator lights.

Astheimer founder and creative director Carsten Astheimer said: “The Deliver-E is the result of an intensive 10-week collaborative project between Astheimer and WMG to design and build an electric delivery vehicle prototype. This unique collaboration showcases the design and prototyping capabilities of Astheimer.

“We are working on several projects at the forefront of electric transportation and autonomous technology, anticipating the future of mobility, which will be dominated by electric vehicles as emission controls tighten and on-line acquisitions increase.”

Professor Dave Greenwood of WMG, said “It’s great to be able to showcase some of the technologies that we’re working on in a real driveable vehicle – this really helps us bring home the benefits of the technologies we develop at WMG, and helps industry see how they may adopt them.”

ULEMCo develops zero-emission fuel cell for Nissan van

ULMECO fuel cell for Nissan

Hydrogen engine retrofit company ULEMCo has developed a zero-emission fuel cell unit, which can be fitted to Nissan’s standard electric e-NV200 van to provide additional power.

ULEMCo is set to launch a fuel cell-based unit that will extend vehicle range to more than 150 miles when fully laden.

Using a 12kW fuel cell and 1.6 kg/day on-board hydrogen storage capability, the van will have almost twice the range of the standard e-NV200, measured to New European Driving Cycle standards, without sacrificing load space capacity.

ULEMCo’s fuel cell RX power module will be roof mounted, and provide motive power via the battery to support the drive load requirements for the base van.

ULEMCo CEO Amanda Lyne said: “We are excited to have completed our integration study for a zero-emission FC extended van. This UK-engineered solution will meet the need for a practical small van urban delivery operation.”

ULEMCo added the development was significant since the fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) is eligible for the Office for Low Emission Vehicles’s (OLEV) support scheme.

The OLEV Hydrogen for Transport Programme was launched last week to provide up to £23m of grant funding until 2020 to support the growth of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, alongside the deployment of new vehicles via an open competition for both Hydrogen Refuelling Stations and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Industry reacts to driving licence reform plans for clean van technology

A proposal to allow category B (car) driving licence holders to drive heavier vans, provided they run on an alternative fuel, has been welcomed by Gasrec.

The fuel supplier last year pushed the DfT to consider an additional 1-tonne allowance on the category B driving licence for drivers of low-emission vans, after the DfT revealed plans to allow an additional tonne of weight to accommodate alternative fuel technology.

Alternative fuel equipment is sometimes heavier than conventional diesel vehicle technology, and the plans will allow such vehicles to carry the same payload as a diesel van.

Gasrec CEO Rob Wood said: “Gasrec is pleased that the government is planning to remove barriers that are preventing the wider use of alternative-fuelled vehicles.

“The current driving licensing regime reduces the driver pool available for alternative-fuelled light goods vehicles as they often marginally exceed the 3.5 tonne licence limit for Category B licence holders. This places a cost and operational burden on the adoption of new technology despite the wide availability of suitable vehicles.

He added: “These vehicles have the potential to make a significant contribution to improving air quality in our urban areas and we fully support the introduction of an appropriate licence derogation to remove this adoption hurdle.”

However, van leasing provider Arval questioned whether it would place more responsibility on van drivers and operators.

“The question facing fleets is whether they feel it is responsible to place drivers with standard car licences into a vehicle with a mass that has previously been seen as requiring specialised training, and into something that is three-quarters of a tonne heavier, and twice as heavy as the largest cars,” said Arval LCV consultant Eddie Parker.

“Across the fleet sector, in recent years, the discussion has tended to be about whether the driving standards for larger CVs should be applied to smaller vehicles. This new proposal moves things in the opposite direction.”

In order to relax driver licensing rules, the UK would need to seek a temporary derogation from the EU Third Driving Licence Directive. Some EU states have already done this to allow category B licence holders to drive heavier vans.

LoCity invites freight operators to a free roadshow on gas-powered CVs

Operators considering using gas-powered vans or HGVs can find out all they need to know at the latest LoCity roadshow taking place on Thursday 21 September at Twickenham Stoop Stadium.

Free to attend, the roadshow is the second in a series of four events created for the freight industry to help operators understand how alternative fuels could be a viable choice today for their fleets.

It follows a successful event last month on electric commercial vehicles.

The gas roadshow will bring together operators of gas CVs, infrastructure providers and technology experts to provide practical advice on gas as an alternative to diesel.

Delegates will explore a line-up of the latest gas-powered vehicles on the market and be able to interact directly with manufacturers at the event.

Demand for the roadshows has been very high, so please do register your interest today if you would be interested in securing a place at locityroadshows.co.uk

LoCity is a an industry-led programme, supported by TfL, to help the freight sector make the switch to alternative fuels ahead of the capital’s pending Ultra Low Emission Zone rollout in 2020.

Consortium to trial system that will switch to zero-emission running in polluted areas

A consortium formed of several automotive technology companies and Leeds City Council is developing a system that will automatically switch a vehicle’s engine to zero-emission running in heavily polluted areas.

The council has teamed with Cenex, Transport Systems Catapult, consultancy EarthSense, transport network systems developer Dynniq and Tevva Motors to launch Project Accra, which will use live air quality data to trigger electric hybrid engines to automatically switch to zero-emission running in urban areas.

Dynniq will develop a decision-making engine capable of receiving live air quality information and real-time traffic conditions. The information will be used to instruct vehicles to run on zero-emissions within a particular geographical area.

EarthSense will be responsible for monitoring and uploading local air quality information to the system.

The technology will be trialled in Leeds and will be tested on a hybrid vehicle interface developed by Tevva Motors.

The system will be evaluated by Cenex and Transport Systems Catapult, which will investigate how it could be scaled-up for wider use across Leeds and other potential clean air zones. Five clean air zones across the UK are expected to be in place by the end of 2019.

Steve Carroll, head of transport at Cenex said, “Local air quality is a persistent and growing problem in urban centres across the UK and globally. Using real-time air quality data to automatically instruct vehicles driving into high pollution areas to switch to zero-emissions driving, has the potential to transform urban transportation regulation and save thousands of lives.”

Simon Notley, technical lead for Dynniq, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to create an entirely new solution to the problem of air pollution and demonstrate the huge potential for innovation that is being unlocked by modern Intelligent Transport Systems. But most importantly it’s an opportunity to improve the quality of life of everyone living, working or travelling in cities around the world.”