Ocado expands fleet with new CNG Ivecos

Online supermarket Ocado has put 20 new compressed natural gas (CNG) Iveco Stalis NP trucks on the road, continuing its investment in CNG power.

Ocado has put six CNG Stralis NP 400 (AS440S40T/P NG) 4×2 tractor units, and 14 higher-powered CNG-fuelled Stralis AS440S46T/P NG 4x2s into service. These were part of an order of 31 new Stralis, with the remaining 11 being AT440S42T/P 420hp diesels, with the narrower, lower AT cab for use within the M25.

By the end of the year, Ocado’s tractor fleet will reach 168 units, of which more than a third will be Iveco Stralis running on CNG. Ocado has already racked up more than 11.5 million CNG-fuelled kilometres, and with the government locking gas fuel duty at 50% of diesel until 2032 means that it is already seeing financial benefits.

This shift to 460hp 12.9-litre CURSOR 13 allows for Iveco’s in-built fleet telematics compatibility, enabling Ocado to monitor the trucks’ performance and maintenance requirements remotely. A further benefit is that the bigger engine and 12-speed HI-TRONIX automatic transmission will make lighter work of pulling its 5m high double-decker trailers, thus increasing fuel economy.

Currently, the majority of the CNG trucks run out of Ocado’s Hatfield CFC (Customer Fulfilment Centre) where last year they partnered with Gasrec becoming the first retailer to self-fund their own CNG refuelling station. This on-site station is linked directly to the grid and will be maintained and supported by Gasrec as part of a 10-year agreement.

The latest batch will run out of Ocado’s North Warwickshire CFC in Dordon where the company are exploring plans for a second refuelling station as it intends to expand its fleet of gas-powered trucks further still.

For now, the vehicles are used on routes that allow them to use Gasrec’s LNG and CNG refuelling facility at Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal.

The trucks are all fitted with an ‘Aeromatic’ air management kit from Aerodyne Global and an ‘ALFIE’ catwalk from SB Components. The additional roof-mounted air deflector automatically and electrically adjusts its height to ensure the smoothest air flow over the truck and trailer when switching between their 4.2m high single-deck and 5m double-decker trailers.

This helps Ocado to fully capitalise on the advanced aerodynamics and superior fuel economy of the Iveco Stralis NP for their operations. The addition of a second fill point, also fitted by SB Components, gives Ocado’s drivers the ability to refill the gas tanks from either side of the vehicle, minimising time spent waiting for the correct dispenser to become available at peak times.

“We had the desire to look at how we could begin to move away from diesel and the first time we saw the Iveco, we knew it was a game changer in terms of gas technology,” said Graham Thomas, Ocado’s fleet operations manager.

“We chose CNG as we didn’t necessarily need the extended range offered by liquified gas, and in terms of a refuelling experience, CNG has much more in common with diesel. It’s an easier transition for the drivers, and in terms of health and safety, it allowed us to adopt the changes quickly and with minimal disruption to day-to-day operations.”

Ocado say the gas is currently being supplied at a minimum of 50% biomethane, which means CO2 output has been reduced by 68% across the fleet. Going forward, the mix of biomethane will be increased, making further inroads to cleaner transport, the company says.

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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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