When investing hundreds of thousands of pounds in a capital asset, any buyer would want to make sure that it will still be viable and have a residual value after its first life. This is especially true for trucks.
So, investing in relatively new LNG technology may be risky from one point of view, but from the other, these may well be the best trucks suited to deliveries that need to be made inside the ULEZ of the future.
Buying a new truck without a minimum three star direct vision rating will either mean costly conversions down the line or a truck that has a limited demand in and around the South East.
All of these factors led to Samworth Brothers Supply Chain introducing the first LNG-powered trucks into its fleet, following a four-week trial with a demonstrator provided by the local Volvo Trucks dealer.
The move sees the logistics arm of the chilled specialist take delivery of six new Volvo FM LNG tractor units with Globetrotter cabs, each meeting Transport for London’s three-star Direct Vision Standard (DVS) rating.
Supplied by David Beecroft, Regional Key Accounts Sales Manager for Volvo Truck and Bus Centre South & East, the new trucks will be double-shifted and operating 24/7, covering up to 250,000 km per annum and expected to remain on the fleet for just over four years.
Biomethane is Best
Dave Alexander, Transport Manager for Samworth Brothers Supply Chain, says: “Running on biomethane allows us to make a significant and immediate reduction to the carbon footprint of these vehicles versus the diesel models they replace. It’s a great move for the business and just the start of our LNG journey.”
Future-Proofed with Direct Vision Standard Compliance
Commenting on the decision to specify the FM, versus the bigger FH cab, he adds: “For the routes these trucks will be operating on we believe the FM is the best package on the market and is built for excellent visibility. Being three-star compliant also helps us to future-proof our fleet; it is due to be the minimum requirement for Greater London from 2024, plus there’s always the potential this could extend to other cities we deliver to as well.”
Volvo has achieved the visibility standard with its latest FM cab thanks to large windows, narrower and raised A-pillars, lowered door lines and excellent side mirrors.
The new FMs were ordered from the factory with Volvo’s Drive++ pack, Living pack and Media pack with navigation. These options add features including remote central locking, electrically controlled air-conditioning, leather steering wheel, twin leather armrests, electrically adjustable interior sun blind, DAB radio, sleeper control panel and 35mm mattress overlay protector.
Safety and efficiency are further enhanced with the optional Fuel pack and Active Safety pack, which introduce I-See predictive cruise control, adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning and advance emergency brake system, driver alert support, lane departure-warning system, lane change support and electronic stability control.
Commenting on the transition to running LNG-powered trucks, Alexander adds: “The support from the dealership has been fantastic. They invited us to visit their workshops to see for ourselves the changes we need to make to our own vehicle maintenance unit, in order to maintain these trucks in-house – and that work is currently underway.”
All six trucks have been specified with Volvo Connect, allowing the customer to closely monitor the performance of the vehicles, including detailed fuel efficiency and carbon reduction data which is reported on weekly by the dealer’s Fuelwatch Manager, Andrew Wright. Volvo Connect also allows Alexander and his team to handle tachograph downloads remotely, plus provides live tracking of the vehicles for maximum security.
Where to Refuel with LNG?
Four of the new trucks operate from the customer’s Leicester site and will deliver to RDCs inside the M25, refuelling at Gasrec’s DIRFT (Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal) location. The two remaining trucks will operate from Avonmouth, refuelling at a customer’s on-site facility.
The FM LNG benefits from Volvo’s unique approach to 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 a standard 460 hp diesel, with matching driveability, reliability and service intervals. The gas powertrain also provides engine braking just like a regular diesel tractor unit – and without needing a separate retarder which adds weight and complexity.