London to launch a low-emission commercial vehicle strategy

Transport for London (TfL) is poised to launch a low-emission commercial vehicle programme to help stimulate the market for low, ultra low or zero-emission vans and lorries.

Split into three distinct work streams, the project will first concentrate on increasing the availability and affordability of viable low-emission commercial vehicles and retrofit technology.

The next stage will see TfL looking to establish an alternative fuel and supply chain infrastructure to support an increase in low-emission trucks and vans.

Finally, the project will help operators understand their options and make informed fleet buying decisions to encourage widespread uptake of low-emission commercial vehicles. TfL will also work with public sector planning and procurement bodies to further support uptake of greener fleets.

Speaking at the FTA’s Managing Freight in London conference earlier this week (2 June), Glen Davies, TfL programme manager – freight and logistics, said he believed the timing was right to bring together the successful work already carried out by operator trials and begin to form consistent benchmarks.

“I think the industry can educate us. There is a lot of investment and good practice. Some of the large 3PLs, particularly in retail and food sectors, are trialling alternative fuels.

“We need to harvest that. We can learn from the industry and help inform the rest of the industry,” he added.

TfL announced this week it was seeking partners for future charging infrastructure to support ultra-low emission vehicles with an initial investment of £10m available for rapid charging technology.

BVRLA welcomes more accurate emissions testing on vans

An EC proposal for ‘real world’ air pollution tests for vans and cars was agreed last week by member states to provide a more accurate procedure for measuring vehicle emissions.

New proposals will require vehicles to be tested on the road and in traffic, rather than in laboratory-like conditions as is currently the case, which should provide more precise NOx emissions data for diesel light-duty vehicles under Euro-6 air quality standards.

EC and member states need to agree the limits for the real-world tests and whether they can be introduced by 2017. This will be alongside existing EC plans to bring in a new, more accurate CO2 test cycle in 2017 – the World Light Duty Test Procedure.

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) has welcomed the plans.

“Air pollution is a major threat to public health, so it is vital that we can accurately measure the part played by road transport, particularly diesel vehicles,” said BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney.

“Over the years, the fleet sector has made excellent progress in driving down CO2 emissions. I am convinced that it can have a similar impact on NOx emissions if it is given accurate information and an appropriate tax regime.”

He added that the agreement is an “important milestone” in helping Europe deal with road transport-based air pollution.

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) has expressed concern over the lack of detail in the new testing proposals. It is urging the EC to deliver a complete proposal by June or July to allow manufacturers enough lead time to implement any changes.

ACEA secretary general said: “We need to make more progress on clarifying all testing conditions to ensure a robust Real Driving Emissions regulation could commence from September 2017. We need clarity in advance so that we can plan the development and design of vehicles in line with new requirements.”

The association said it will work closely with the EC to help develop the new testing regime.

Van carbon emissions decline ahead of EU targets

CO2 emissions from vans are continuing to decline ahead of EU targets, according to latest figures released by the European Environment Agency.

Around 1.4 million new vans were registered in the EU last year, with average emissions of 169.2g of CO2/km. This represents a 2.4% drop on 2013’s emissions and is significantly below the EU’s target for 2017 of 175g CO2/km.

The light commercial vehicle market is growing significantly each year, with registrations up by 18% last year across Europe, as city centre populations continue to expand and increasing amounts of goods need to be delivered into busy, urban environments.

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) secretary general Erik Jonnaert said: “Vehicle manufacturers have invested billions of euros into helping improve the fuel efficiency and environmental performance of their products. This investment has underpinned this 4g drop in CO2 emissions per km this year. The industry will continue to work to ensure that its new vehicles go on to meet the target of 147g of CO2/km by 2020.”

He added that further reductions in CO2 will also be dependent on greater market uptake of alternative powertrains, including electric, hybrid, fuel-cell and natural gas-powered vans.

However, EEA figures show that less than 2% of new van registrations in Europe comprise alternative-fuelled vehicles, with less than 0.5% electric.

Jonnaert said governments across Europe will need to increase their support for a wider roll-out of alternative powertrains, both in terms of building supporting refuelling and charging infrastructure and in influencing consumer choices.

“With a view to the future post 2020, we need to initiate a wider debate involving all stakeholders on a more ambitious system for further reducing CO2 emissions from road transport. This means we should focus not only on emissions from the vehicle itself, but also other factors influencing emissions during the use of the vehicle,” he added.

This would include the carbon content of fuels, driver behaviour, infrastructure, and the age of the fleet.

Freight in the City Expo promises to solve sustainable urban freight challenges

Following the success of last year’s Quiet Cities Global Summit, Motor Transport publisher Road Transport Media is holding a one-day urban logistics event aimed at all stakeholders interested in enabling quiet, clean and safe deliveries.

The one-day Freight in the City Expo will combine seminars, an exhibition and guided tours all aimed at ensuring visitors have a comprehensive understanding of the issues around urban logistics.

“There are many challenges associated with delivering goods and services in the cities, with new standards, exclusion zones and charging schemes emerging,” said Andy Salter, MD of Road Transport Media.

“For all those involved in this sector, whether as a policy maker, consignor or commercial vehicle operator, it is essential everyone is aware of the implications and future requirements for urban logistics. Freight in the City is a forum to bring all the key stakeholders together to share ideas, information and solutions.

Freight in the City Expo will take place on 27 October at Alexandra Palace, London and will be free to attend.

“Our ambition is for the Expo to become an annual event for those involved in urban logistics to share information, best practice and their solutions to the challenges of using commercial vehicles in the city,” added Salter.

For more information about the Expo and to register your interest, click here.

Government urged to promote air quality benefits of LPG vehicles

The UK’s liquefied petroleum gas trade association (UKLPG) is urging the incoming air quality minister to support the significant role that automotive LPG could play in reducing harmful emissions from the transport sector.

A Supreme Court ruling last month said the government must produce a new air quality plan by the end of 2015, following the UK’s failure to meet EU nitrogen dioxide reduction targets in several major cities, with a new air quality minister to be appointed later this week to drive the scheme forward.

UKLPG is calling on the new minister to draw upon latest research it commissioned from Millbrook Proving Ground and recognise the air quality benefits of automotive LPG, such as a significant reduction in CO2, NOx and particulate matter compared with petrol or diesel vehicles.

Millbrook’s report highlights the potential for LPG to take an ongoing role within the UK’s current transport mix both as a mono and dual fuel, as well as being a strong partner for future technologies, with scope to work with fuel cells, plug-in hybrids and auxilliary power units.

Rob Shuttleworth, chief executive of UKLPG, said: “As an incredibly versatile, plentiful and clean fuel, automotive LPG deserves far greater recognition for its air quality, low-carbon and cost effective benefits which we urge the new minister to recognise.”

He added: “The research, backed by supporting evidence, clearly identifies the potential for a strong future for automotive LPG to 2050. We’re keen to work together with the automotive industry and policy-makers to develop the future of low-carbon road transport in which automotive LPG plays a key role.”


Retiming deliveries is key to keeping pace with London’s growth

Retiming deliveries outside of peak hours to cope with a “rapidly changing London” was tackled at a TfL conference this morning held in the capital.

Operators, businesses and local authorities were brought together to discuss the practicalities of shifting deliveries outside of the peak hours of 0700-13.00 to cope with London’s burgeoning construction boom and TfL’s £4bn road modernisation scheme works taking place.

TfL said that while not all businesses are able to retime, other options, such as rerouting or consolidating deliveries, can provide similar benefits.

London’s population is set to grow from 8.6 million people today to more than 10 million by 2030, and TfL said this demands careful planning for the safe and efficient movement of increasing volumes of goods on the capital’s roads – currently valued at £200bn each year.

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, London’s transport commissioner, said: “Never has the need to adapt been more pressing.  We must build on all the work we did together during the London 2012 Games to make further progress on retiming outside the busiest times, rerouting and consolidating deliveries.  This will mean less congestion, improved road safety and reduced costs for the industry and businesses.”

Fruit and Vegetable distributor Reynolds said it had been delivering to customers outside of normal business hours for many years now, often late at night or during the early hours, with customers benefitting from both convenience and fresher produce straight from its Herts NDC.

“There are logistical benefits for Reynolds too,” said Martin Ward, head of distribution at Reynolds, “which ultimately means the prices we charge our customers can be more competitive. Because roads are far less congested, especially in central London, larger vehicles can be deployed and more drops achieved on each route. What’s more, often we can utilise the same vehicle twice in a day, which makes great financial sense.”

Tim Slater, MD of Transport UK & Ireland at DHL, said sharing of best practice and technologQuiet Cities 2014y, such as DHL’s gas-powered concept vehicle laucnhed at Quiet Cities last year (pictured, right), would facilitate retiming of deliveries, “ensuring reliability, easing congestion and improving road safety”.

TfL is publishing postcode data of planned disruption for route-planning systems and communicating with 11,000 operators in the weekly Freight Bulletin. TfL is also providing tools such as a matchmaking service which allows operators and business to gain the support of all stakeholders at any location for retimed deliveries.

Further information is available here: and

Euro-6 gas HGVs displayed at CV Show 2015

Liquefied gas supplier Gasrec displayed the UK’s first dedicated Euro-6 gas-powered HGV on its stand at the CV Show 2015, which took place on 14-16 April.

The Scania tractor unit recently entered service with Argos and Gasrec said it has already been trialled by a number of other leading retail and logistics companies.

Plated at 40 tonnes GTW, the unit is equipped with Scania’s nine-litre, Euro-6 engine. Delivering 340hp (250kW) at 1,900rpm and 1,600Nm of torque between 1,100rpm and 1,400rpm. The engine is designed to operate solely on gas (compressed or liquefied) and offers a high thermal efficiency of 40%.

Argos will initially run five of the gas-powered trucks from its base at Magna Park in the Midlands. With an expected range of up to 450km, the vehicles will run on daily return to base operations filling up at a new open access refuelling station that Gasrec will launch later this year at Lutterworth.

They currently use Gasrec’s open access refuelling station at Dirft in Daventry.

Gasrec’s stand highlights the growth in popularity of liquid and compressed natural gas vehicle fuels and the increasingly strategic infrastructure supporting them across the UK road network.

At the CV Show, the company also displayed the UK’s first Daf Euro-6 dual-fuel heavy goods vehicle, an XF Euro-6, 12.9-litre, 460hp small midlift.

Dieselgas (formerly Prins Autogas), which shared the Gasrec stand, is the first company to successfully convert the new Daf Euro-6 vehicle to run on dual fuel (compressed natural gas and diesel).

Experts from both companies were on hand to answer questions about gas technology and conversions.

A version of this story was first published on

Econic to be offered with 8-speed PowerShift for wider urban role

Mercedes-Benz said its Econic municipal chassis is soon to be offered with an 8-speed PowerShift automated gearbox as an alternative to the current 6-speed Allison automatic box.

This will provide further scope for the Econic to be used in a wider urban role – such as distribution, tipper and mixer duties and as a skip-handler – in addition to its primarily intended purpose as a refuse collection vehicle (RCV).

Its low driving position and large glazed areas meet the demand for much improved cyclist and pedestrian safety in cities.

Confirming that the development and testing work for the new installation is under way in Germany, Mercedes-Benz UK sales engineering manager Nick Blake said at this year’s CV Show: “If you ask me if Econic will be better in this role with an 8-speed PowerShift, then the answer is of course, yes.”

The box is already matched to the same 7.7-litre OM 936 6-cylinder engine in Arocs, Actros and Atego units.

Mercedes exhibited several non-RCV Econics at the show, including the high-visibility rear-steer tridem 8×4 aggregates tipper for operation in London by Cemex Aggregates (pictured). The truck is based on the 3235L Econic, with its OM 936 engine rated at a nominal 350hp/1,400Nm. It has a Wilcox body and Edbro CX14 front end tipping gear.

  • Cemex is currently trialling a four-axle Econic tipper.The tipper is based at the company’s Angerstein Quarry site near Dartford in London and will supply sand and gravel to Cemex’s concrete plants and local customers in the capital. The tipper is fitted with a Wilcox Wilcolite insulated smooth rigid tipping body and is designed to take a payload of 20 tonnes, the same as a standard tipper.  The operator described the design as a marked step forward, as previous high-visibility design vehicles have had capacities of around 16 tonnes.


Tevva reveals range-extended electric 7.5-tonne urban delivery truck

An electric range-extended low-emission 7.5 tonne delivery vehicle made its public debut at the CV Show last week, attracting an “over-whelming positive response” according to its maker.

Tevva Motors, (originally Teva Motors) was set up by Israeli entrepreneur Asher Bennett in 2012 to develop an electric range-extended 7.5-tonne truck. The prototype, competed in January, attracted “lots of interest and an over-whelming positive response” at the CV Show, according to Tevva’s business project manager Richard Lidstone-Scott.

Claiming pure battery-electric trucks are hamstrung by limited range, Lidstone-Scott said Tevva’s range-extended driveline makes an electric 7.5-tonner operationally viable and commercially attractive. It involves a pair of lithium-ion batteries, mains- charged overnight, powering an electric traction motor with reduction gearbox.This drives the truck’s standard rear axle via a shortened prop-shaft.

The batteries alone provide a range of up to 130km, but a 1.6-litre Ford diesel engine charges the batteries too, typically during the stem part of the route into an urban delivery area where the truck would run in zero-emission mode solely on battery power, returning to base with the diesel engine charging again. A predictive energy management system determines the best use of the diesel engine to deliver optimum battery performance. This strategy is reckoned to prolong battery life to around 10 years, give virtually unlimited daily range and make best use of cheap overnight electricity for charging.

The driveline is supplied by Magtec of Sheffield and the two lithium-ion battery packs come from another UK company, Goodwolfe. Brentwood, Essex-based Tevva installs the driveline into a Chinese-built JAC chassis- cab. The vehicle is priced at £40-£50,000 (excluding battery lease and body) but its total cost of ownership over a 10-year life is claimed to 25% less than a conventional 7.5-tonner’s. The weight of the batteries reduces payload to around 2 tonnes.

The prototype is about to start durability testing at Millbrook. Tevva is currently converting a Mercedes Vario-based parcel delivery truck for UPS, replacing its Euro-3 diesel powertrain with the range-extended battery system. This is destined to return to service with UPS for trials in the South East.

TfL launches out-of-hours deliveries toolkit at Quiet Cities

New guidance for fleet operators considering out-of-hours deliveries was launched by TfL at Quiet Cities yesterday

‘Getting the timing right’ is a toolkit for all stakeholders involved in re-timing freight deliveries – including hauliers, local councils and businesses – and outlines the benefits and issues to consider when rescheduling deliveries, from finding suitable sites and staffing issues through to engaging with local residents.

It is an industry-led guide that pulls together all the lessons learned and data gathered by the Re-timing Deliveries Consortium, which comprises TfL, freight operators, retailers, trade associations and several London boroughs.

It outlines benefits for operators as:

  • Fewer PCNs by delivering at times when restrictions do not apply
  • Fuel savings, by avoiding congestion
  • More efficient use of fleet
  • Less stressful journeys for drivers

However it urges operators to take into account the following considerations:

  • Analyse delivery options
  • Talks between customers and local authorities
  • Identifying suitable locations
  • What customer requirements are for each delivery
  • The impact on whole supply chain
  • Staff training
  • Equipment investment

London’s Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy (pictured), said: “London, through the 2012 Games and the Re-timing Deliveries Consortium, has proved that innovative attitudes can have a real impact. Moving deliveries to the right time will make the difference, improving road safety and relieving pressure on congestion.

“The sheer number of people at the inaugural Quiet Cities event shows that the appetite for this change is there, not just in London, or the UK, but across the globe.”

Tim Slater, MD of Transport UK & Ireland at DHL, said: “By sharing best practice and innovative technologies, such as our new concept vehicle, retiming of deliveries to out of the peak can become a reality; ensuring reliability, easing congestion and improving road safety.”

A Quiet Cities delegate from Tesco revealed that working with the Re-timing Deliveries Consortium had enable the supermarket to move 45 stores in London to accepting night-time deliveries, while a Sainsbury’s representative stressed that collaboration across the whole borough is key, as something as simple as adding a dropped kerb can enable a new access point for out-of-hours unloading.

Delegates also wanted to find out more about individual case studies, as well as calling for construction freight to be included in future research. Some also asked about the possibility of a required standard to adhere to, so as to ensure compliance from all operators.

By Hayley Pink