Iveco have been banging the ‘natural gas trucks’ drum for a few years now.  The company is focusing heavily on making their Stralis tractor unit range the number one for LNG and CNG operation across Europe.  This may be their strategy to get more Stralis tractor units on the road full stop, as the company has not been hugely successful in this regard outside of Italy.

Gas Stralis Iveco
Nicholls Transport and Gasrec have opened a refuelling station for pumping liquified natural gas (LNG) in Kent, to support an initial order for 10 Stralis NP 460 6×2 tractor units which will run on 100% LNG.

So, the news has been well received by Iveco that a customer is not only investing in ten Iveco Stralis tractor units, but is also investing in the gas refuelling infrastructure to support it.

Convincing Case for Gas Trucks

Sittingbourne-based Nicholls Transport says 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 refuelling station for pumping liquified natural gas (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.

Public Refuelling

The LNG refuelling station is the first of its kind in Kent and is perfectly situated for freight traffic bound for the continent, being less than five miles from Junction 5 of the M2 – with Nicholls making the site available to third parties by arrangement.

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. Paul Nicholls, Managing Director of Nicholls Transport, says:

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 Haynes.

Commenting on the benefits of LNG, he adds: “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.”

Sascha Kaehne, Iveco’s UK & Ireland Business Director, says:

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

Sascha Kaehne, IVECO
Sascha Kaehne, IVECO’s UK & Ireland Business Director (left), with Paul Nicholls, Managing Director of Nicholls Transport (right).

600kms+ Gas Truck Range

Iveco designed the Stralis NP to be the most sustainable heavy truck for 44-tonne operation, standing apart from competitors for being 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 – making it perfect for vehicles operating on same- day back-to-base missions.

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

The new Stralis NPs 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.

Extended Maintenance Intervals

Contributing to the appeal of the Stralis NP are Iveco’s extended maintenance intervals of 90,000km – the longest in the industry for single-fuel gas vehicles – resulting in less time in the workshop and more time on the road. Furthermore, the absence of complex after-treatment systems associated with diesel vehicles means the Stralis NP requires no EGR, SCR, Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) or AdBlue – adding significantly to its low-maintenance advantages.

NoX & CO2 Reductions

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

Nicholls Transport operates a single-marque fleet of more than 100 Iveco trucks, which has been supplied and supported solely by Haynes Trucks for more than a decade.