Supermarket operator Waitrose has introduced a new ten-strong fleet of trucks powered exclusively by CNG (compressed natural gas).
The Scania-built trucks are the first in Europe to be equipped with twin 26-inch diameter carbon fibre fuel tanks, which store the gas at 250 bar of pressure. This increases the vehicles’ range from 300 to 500 miles, enabling them to complete round trips to Waitrose outlets in the Midlands and the North on a single fill. CNG is also 35-40 per cent cheaper than diesel and emits 70 per cent less CO2.
“Using biomethane will deliver significant environmental and operational benefits to our business,” said Justin Laney, general manager Central Transport for the John Lewis Partnership, Waitrose’s parent organisation.
“It’s much cleaner and quieter than diesel, and we can run five gas trucks for the same emissions as one diesel lorry.”
The CNG trucks cost 50 per cent more than their diesel counterparts, but annual fuel savings of £15,000-£20,000 should see that cost recouped within two to three years. Each truck is also expected to be in service for five years longer than a diesel equivalent, giving an overall lifetime saving per vehicle of between £75,000 and £100,000.
The carbon fibre tanks were adapted for the European market by Agility Fuel Solutions. They provide a weight saving of half a tonne per truck while at the same time delivering additional range. Current CNG refuelling infrastructure is limited, but expected to grow in the coming years as hauliers seek cheaper and cleaner alternatives to diesel.
“High-pressure carbon fibre fuel tanks demolish the ‘range anxiety’ concerns that have made many hauliers reluctant to move away from diesel to CNG,” said Philip Fjeld, CEO of Solihull-based CNG Fuels, which supplies Waitrose.
“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.”