It seems that most days, either Volvo or Iveco tell us of a deal that has gone through on the sale of some new gas-powered tractor units.

We were wondering if any diesel trucks were being sold any more?

Obviously, there are plenty of new diesel trucks hitting the roads, as there are still very few places where an operator can refuel a gas truck, which means that they only make sense on specific duty types at the moment.

Here is an operator who has bought seven gas Volvo trucks to see if their business could use the alternative fuel across their fleet of 1,000 trucks.

Gregory Distribution has put its first Volvo FH Globetrotter LNG (liquified natural gas) tractor units into operation.
Gregory Distribution has put its first Volvo FH Globetrotter LNG (liquified natural gas) tractor units into operation.

Volvo Trucks has delivered the first FH Globetrotter LNG (liquified natural gas) tractor units into operation with Gregory Distribution, as part of a trial by the customer to test the suitability of LNG to replace diesel in its fleet of more than 1,000 trucks.

The South West-based distribution and logistics business will initially operate seven LNG-powered Volvos from its Bristol site, supplied by Abdi Ali, National Key Account Manager at Volvo Trucks UK & Ireland. The 6×2 pusher-axle tractor units have been specified with 155 kg LNG tanks for maximum range, and benefit from 12-speed I-Shift automated gearboxes to help maximise fuel efficiency.

 Why Buy an LNG Volvo?

Key to securing the order was Volvo’s unique approach to natural gas engine technology, using small amounts of diesel to initiate ignition of the air-fuel mixture. This enables the Volvo G13C engine to deliver the same 460 hp and 2,300 Nm of torque as its diesel-only counterpart, with matching driveability, reliability and service intervals. Plus Volvo’s gas powertrain provides engine braking just like a regular diesel – and without requiring a separate retarder which adds weight and complexity.

Andrew Chapple, Head of Fleet, Property and Procurement for Gregory Distribution, says: “We are continually looking for ways to improve environmental performance across every area of our business. We ran trials with 44-tonne gas trucks from two manufacturers, and we found the Volvo FH to be the best fit for our business.

 “Put simply, an LNG-powered Volvo delivers the same power, performance and torque as a diesel; plus it’s a brand which is known to us and offers excellent dealer support nationwide. Driver acceptance is also crucial, and this was another area where the FH Globetrotter scored highly.”

 Costs Savings Too?

In addition to improving the sustainability of its fleet, Gregory Distribution is confident the transition to LNG will help to unlock further efficiency benefits for its operation.

Chapple explains: “Initially we began exploring LNG as a way of reducing our carbon footprint, but the business case is also very strong. We’re deploying these trucks on high-mileage contracts covering between 150,000 to 250,000 km per annum, and we’re confident they will help us to reduce total cost of ownership thanks to lower fuel costs.”

LNG has huge potential as a substitute for diesel in trucks. There’s a good supply globally and the CO2 emissions are considerably lower in comparison. The possibility to run on bio-LNG also means a potential CO2 reduction of up to 100 per cent, opening up long-term possibilities to move into renewable fuels – making businesses less dependent on fossil energy sources.

LNG Tank on Volvo FH460
LNG Tank on Volvo FH460