Gasrec has recorded a five-fold increase in sales of natural gas across its commercial vehicle refueling network in the first quarter of 2020, versus the same period in 2019. This record growth follows an influx of new trucks into the market running on CNG or LNG – with demand in March 2020 exceeding the previous peak of September 2014, at the height of the Euro-5 dual fuel era.
“The growth we have seen has been phenomenal, with volumes more than doubling between the final quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020,” said James Westcott, Chief Commercial Officer at Gasrec. “Registrations of gas-powered 44-toners has played a big role, together with the general realization from the industry that gas represents the best opportunity right now to significantly reduce emissions and running costs.”
Gasrec now expects its CNG and LNG volumes to flatten temporarily as European truck production is largely halted due to COVID-19, limiting the opportunity for new natural gas vehicles to enter the market.
“We work closely with customers to ensure we have the refueling infrastructure they need in place before new trucks arrive, so we know the forward order bank is strong. Once production resumes, we fully expect the steep growth trajectory we’re on to return – it’s just been shunted back from one quarter to another,” added Westcott.
Gasrec counts three supermarket chains amongst its major customers – recording heavy fleet utilization during March in the battle to keep shelves and RDCs stocked. “One supermarket we supply doubled its demand for gas inside a week,” reports Westcott.
Demand for gas year-to-date is currently split approximately 70/30 in terms of LNG versus CNG, with LNG proving most popular for vehicles requiring maximum range.
Gasrec supplies fleets from a network of eight refueling facilities, with its flagship 24/7 site at the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT), currently running at just over 30% capacity. At maximum utilization, DIRFT has the capacity to refuel 700 heavy goods vehicles per day.