Nicholls Transport buys 10 Iveco LNG trucks and opens refuelling facility for them

Sittingbourne-based Nicholls Transport has begun its move away from diesel trucks with the purchase of 10 Iveco Stralis NP 460 6×2 tractor units that run on liquified natural gas (LNG), and has also opened a refuelling station for them.

The LNG fuelling station, which was installed by Gasrec, is the first of its kind in Kent. Nicholls has made the site available to third parties by arrangement. Its location, less than five miles from junction 5 of the M2, means it is handily located for freight traffic bound for the continent.

Iveco’s Stralis NP is the only three-axle tractor unit on the market to run purely on LNG. It is mounted with gas tanks on both sides of the chassis, offering Nicholls a projected range of between 610 to 640km, dependent on terrain and payload.

The Stralis NPs are powered by Iveco’s 12.9 litre Cursor 13 NP engine, which delivers up to 460hp – offering the same blend of power and performance as its diesel vehicles. They also benefit from the latest generation Hi-Tronix transmission, which reduces gear shifting times by 10%, according to the company.

Nicholls expect the new Stralis NPs to cover up to 175,000km per year when being double-shifted, and are planned to remain in service for a minimum of five years.

Compared to Nicholls’ Euro VI diesel vehicles, each Stralis NP emits about 90% less NO2 emissions, 99% less particulate matter and 50% less noise. They also reduce CO2 by as much as 95% when being fuelled on biomethane.

The company’s seven-figure investment in Iveco’s LNG vehicles represents the most significant change in course in its 50-year history.

Paul Nicholls, managing director of Nicholls Transport, said: “Moving to alternative fuels has been high on our agenda – but gas is currently the only technology that’s ready for 44-tonne operation. Gasrec has been hugely proactive and gave us the confidence to switch fuels, following experiences with demonstrators organised through Iveco and [dealer] Haynes.”

 “Moving to natural gas shows how much we care about our planet. It’s our collective responsibility as an industry to do something to tackle climate change and make road transport more sustainable, and by opening this LNG station and investing in the Stralis NP fleet, we’re showing our customers and competitors that’s possible to do today. We very much hope other local businesses in North Kent share our vision for a sustainable future and buy in to LNG in the same way. As an industry, we really need to make this happen.

“Margins are tight in haulage so you need to consider every possible angle to make a return as soon as possible. When we looked at total cost of ownership, the arguments in favour of LNG stacked up well.”

Indeed, to this end, Iveco has extended maintenance intervals of 90,000km – the longest in the industry for single-fuel gas vehicles. Furthermore, the absence of complex after-treatment systems associated with diesel vehicles means the Stralis NP requires no EGR, SCR, Diesel Particulate Filter or AdBlue – adding significantly to its low-maintenance advantages.

Sascha Kaehne, IVECO’s UK & Ireland business director, added that the company was “delighted” to help Nicholls make the move. “For a business like Nicholls, LNG makes perfect sense,” he said.

 “The location of their refuelling facility is also strategically very important, serving as a gateway for freight traffic between London and continental Europe,” he adds.

James Westcott, chief commercial officer of Gasrec, said the company has installed a pumped mobile refuelling station, which they use to seed new locations where they want to get LNG into an area quickly. “It’s ideal for an early adopter like Nicholls, being capable of supporting as many as 30 gas vehicles from a single location,” he said. “This is the pre-cursor to a larger and fully open-access development we are looking at for the Nicholls site.”

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Dan Parton
Dan Parton
Dan Parton is a former editor of Truck & Driver, the UK’s biggest selling truck magazine. He is now writes for The Van Expert and The Truck Expert.

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