According to Sittingbourne-based Nicholls Transport, the environmental and business case for running heavy trucks on natural gas means now is the right time to start the transition away from diesel. Together with Gasrec, the firm has opened a refueling station for pumping LNG from its Kent base, which will be used to support an initial order for 10 Stralis NP 460 6×2 tractor units from local dealer Haynes Trucks.
Its LNG station is the first of its kind in Kent and is strategically located being less than five miles from Junction 5 of the M2 and serving as a gateway for freight traffic between London and continental Europe – with Nicholls making the site available to third parties by arrangement. Moreover, the company’s seven-figure investment in IVECO’s LNG vehicles is the latest in a long line of innovative ventures for Nicholls and represents the most significant change in course in its 50-year history.
“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 organized through IVECO and Haynes,” said Paul Nicholls, Managing Director of Nicholls Transport. “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.”
Sascha Kaehne, IVECO’s UK & Ireland Business Director, also commented: “Nicholls saw the potential for natural gas and we were delighted to help them take this big step forward in sustainability. IVECO has delivered more than 35,000 natural gas-powered vehicles into service around the world, so we have a lot of confidence in this technology. For a business like Nicholls, LNG makes perfect sense.”
Regarding the refueling infrastructure, James Westcott, Chief Commercial Officer of Gasrec, explained: “We have installed a pumped mobile refueling station which we use to seed new locations where we 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 natural gas vehicles from a single location. This is the pre-cursor to a larger and fully open-access development we are looking at for the Nicholls site.”
Compared with Nicholls’ Euro VI diesel vehicles, each Stralis NP emits around 90% less NO2 emissions, 99% less particulate matter and 50% less noise. They also reduce CO2 by as much as 95% when being fueled on biomethane. The new Stralis NP trucks are expected 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.