The logistics industry is moving towards zero-emissions transport, with trucking companies replacing heavy-duty, long haul diesel-powered vehicles with natural gas, hydrogen or electric-powered ones.


The use of natural gas fuel is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 21 percent as compared with diesel and gasoline. But the diesel industry is fighting back.


European Trucking Backs Away from Diesel


The Stralis NP is the first natural gas-powered truck designed for the long haul.
(Photo courtesy IVECO)


IVECO, the commercial vehicles brand of CNH Industrial N.V., has signed the largest deal yet for its Stralis NP (Natural Power) vehicles that run on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).


The agreement, signed October 20 with Jost Group, one of Europe's largest transport and logistics companies, authorizes the delivery of a fleet of 500 Stralis NP trucks running on liquefied natural gas (LNG). Jost is aiming for a 35 percent conversion of its fleet to LNG by 2020.


This order will replace pre-Euro VI diesel-powered vehicles, aged four to five years, in the Belgian firm's fleet of 1,400 trucks and 3,000 trailers. Presently, Jost Group conducts operations with 132 IVECO Stralis vehicles, including two running on compressed natural gas (CNG).


The Stralis NP is the first gas-powered truck designed for the long haul. It is equipped with a 400 hp engine, it has the same payload as an equivalent diesel truck and, with a range of up to 1,500 km, it can travel from Madrid to Frankfurt without refueling.


Demand for LNG is growing rapidly across Europe, with the German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) having identified LNG as the best solution for long-distance road transport in the short term and for the next 10 to 15 years.


The Stralis NP is intended to be the most sustainable long-distance heavy truck ever made. The first 150 vehicles will begin operating during 2018, with the full fleet to be in service by 2020.


Commenting on the agreement, Jost Group owner Roland Jost said, “This marks a key turning point for our business as we begin a strategic move away from our dependence on diesel and towards green logistics, as requested by our customers, which are demanding a more sustainable transport."


"Our excellent experience operating Stralis Euro 5 EEV diesel vehicles has seen us establish a solid relationship with IVECO, supported by a very strong service network across Belgium," Jost said. “This played a key role in our decision to take the next step on the path to sustainability, choosing the IVECO Stralis NP as the best solution."


"We’re proud to be amongst the early adopters of this new technology: our goal for the next three years is to have 35 percent of our fleet running on LNG. Our Group is also supporting this with an investment in our own LNG refueling infrastructure, with plans to open up to three filling stations within our major operating centres in Belgium,” said Jost.


And Jost is not the only recent purchaser of the Stralis NP. Axis Fleet Management, the UK long-term contract truck hire company, has announced investment of more than £11m in new IVECO heavy trucks with an initial delivery of 150 Stralis tractor units.


The deal marks IVECO’s largest heavy truck order in the UK this year and will see Axis offer the vehicles to both existing and new fleets on full service contract hire.


IVECO was the first manufacturer in the commercial transport sector to recognize the potential of natural gas, in 1991. Since then the brand has developed a range of natural gas-powered trucks, vans and buses. More than 22,000 IVECO gas-powered vehicles have been sold to date.


Pierre Lahutte, IVECO Brand President, explained, “Gas offers the widest range of opportunities to replace diesel in the commercial vehicle market - it's no longer a fuel of tomorrow, it's a fuel of today. This has been firmly demonstrated with one of Europe’s biggest fleets selecting the Stralis NP, running on LNG, to lead their fleet replacement programme."


When running on fossil derived natural gas, the Stralis NP's carbon dioxide emissions are 10 percent lower than an equivalent diesel vehicle, 95 percent lower with the use of biomethane, IVECO says.


The level of particulates is "negligible" and the nitrogen oxide emissions are 50 percent lower compared to diesel over long haul trips.


LNG is also much quieter than diesel, reducing engine noise levels by around 50 percent, easing the stress of deliveries on urban residents.


"Jost Group has clear sustainability goals, and recognises the benefits that our advanced experience in natural power vehicles can bring to its operation," said Lahutte. "We are extremely pleased to be growing our share of their fleet, and introducing the Stralis NP and LNG into their operations.”


Registered in the Netherlands with corporate offices in London, CNH Industrial is one of the world's largest capital goods companies


Jost Group has offices in 10 countries in Europe and North Africa. It offers full, partial and bulk loads, plus the movement of containers, dangerous goods and waste as well as inter-modality in air and sea freight and warehouse logistics.


UK Offers £15 Million Prize to Cut Freight Emissions


The UK government is encouraging companies to compete for up to £15 million of funding to develop technology that will reduce harmful emissions from freight transport.


Jesse Norman, under secretary of state for the Department for Transport, is calling on UK businesses to lead research into low emissions technology for lorries, known elsewhere as trucks.


The projects could develop materials that make vehicles lighter, for instance, or improve the efficiency of engines or batteries.


Minister Norman said, "Lorries cause a third of the UK’s transport [carbon dioxide] CO2 emissions and simple new technologies can have the greatest impact in reducing the harmful pollutants of freight."


"This funding will give UK companies the chance to lead the world in developing important innovations to improve air quality across the country," the minister said.


The first of the projects in the government’s low emission freight and logistics trial, announced earlier this year, are now using new electric and hydrogen dual-fuel vehicles on the road. By mid-2018, more than 300 of these low emission vehicles will be on UK roads.


The new funding follows the £20 million Low Emissions Freight and Logistics Trial, announced earlier this year, which faciliated support for a range of projects aimed at tackling greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from across the freight sector.


Air Liquide Group received the largest amount of that round of funding - £2.57 million – for its project testing biogas in 86 lorries ranging in size from 26 tonnes to 44 tonnes.


Air Liquide is participating in the development of innovative solutions that improve air quality, such as the deployment of hydrogen energy and biomethane for cleaner mobility.


The government is seeking innovative ways of improving air quality across the country and the funding comes just a month after the UK's new Air Quality Plan.


The Air Quality Plan sets out how the UK will reduce roadside nitrogen dioxide concentration and details how the government plans to meet its legal requirements set out in the Air Quality Standard Regulations 2010.


To reduce nitrogen dioxide pollution, the government promises to establish a £255 million implementation fund; establish a Clean Air Fund; and assign £100 million for retrofitting and new low emission buses.


The government also plans to end the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.


The new competition for £15 million has been developed with Innovate UK, the operating name of the Technology Strategy Board, the UK's innovation agency. It is a non-departmental public body operating at arm's length from the government and reporting to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.


Innovate UK intends to help the government achieve its ambition to be a global leader in electric vehicle technology and to see all new vehicles emission free by 2040.


We welcome this significant further investment in zero emission research and development funding, in particular its focus on freight and commercial vehicles as this is a major opportunity for UK companies to drive forward innovations," said Simon Edmonds, director manufacturing and materials at Innovate UK.


Since 2010, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK have invested more than £300 million in research and development, to improve technologies for ultra low emission vehicles. This funding has unlocked a further £200 million of private sector investment.


The number of ULEVs on British roads is at record levels, with more than 118,000 registered to date and more than 11,000 registered between April and June 2017.


California Ports Test Toyota's Project Portal


Project Portal: Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell powered Class-8 proof-of-concept truck is seen operating
in the Port of Long Beach, California. (Photo courtesy Toyota Motor North America)


The future of heavy-duty trucking just hit the streets of Los Angeles in the form of Toyota Motor North America’s Project Portal, a hydrogen fuel cell system designed for heavy-duty Class 8 trucks.


For decades, Class 8 trucks have been powered by diesel, and, just recently, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and dimethyl ether (DME), but diesel still powers more than 95 percent of all Class 8 trucks.


As part of a study in conjunction with the Port of Los Angeles, the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission, Toyota built its Project Portal concept truck with two hydrogen fuel cell stacks from the Mirai fuel cell passenger car, mated to a 12 KwH battery pack.


The electric motor produces 670 hp and 1,325 lb-ft of torque. The Project Portal truck has a gross vehicle weight rating of 80,000 pounds, with an estimated range of 200 miles.


Since April 2017 when on-road development began, the Project Portal truck has completed more than 4,000 successful development miles, pulling drayage rated cargo weight and emitting nothing but water vapor.


Toyota has led the way in expanding the understanding and adoption of fuel cell technology,” said TMNA Executive Vice President Bob Carter. “From the introduction of the Mirai passenger vehicle to the creation of the heavy-duty fuel cell system in Project Portal, Toyota continues to demonstrate the versatility and scalability of the zero-emission fuel cell powertrain.”


With testing and development miles completed, Project Portal is ready to start work.


Initial feasibility study routes, moving goods from select Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach terminals to surrounding rail yards and warehouses for distribution, began October 23. The test truck’s daily trips will total around 200 miles. Longer haul routes will be introduced later.


The initial feasibility study operations will be managed by the TMNA Project Portal team, in collaboration with Toyota’s Service Parts Accessories Operations group and its drayage provider, Southern Counties Express.


Heavy duty vehicles make up a significant percentage of the annual emissions output at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and the Project Portal feasibility study may reduce emissions.


DANNAR Unveils Electric Disaster Response Truck


The new DANNAR Mobile Power Station® can navigate flood waters and supply
off-grid power when disasters knock out power supplies. (Photo courtesy DD DANNAR, LLC)


An American company has come up with the first in a new class of electric work machines. The new DANNAR Mobile Power Station® (MPS) is a driverless heavy-duty truck designed for disaster response, infrastructure maintenance and supplemental off-grid power.


This disaster response vehicle combines days of emergency power with the ability to clear destroyed streets and travel through flood waters three feet (one metre) deep.


The MPS can provide clean energy for single-day or multiple-day work requirements. Its two-way charger and inverter allows for emergency export power from the battery system for large buildings or even entire neighborhoods.


Located in Muncie, Indiana, and San Clemente, California, DD DANNAR, LLC, is an OEM manufacturer of this purpose-built, off-road electric vehicle and energy platform for government fleets.


With diverse add-on configurations, the MPS is the first of its kind as a multi-purpose solution for first response and public works.


The MPS comes standard with 66 kWh BMW i3 lithium-ion battery packs, but can be configured with up to 198 kWh of on-board electricity.


The high-voltage batteries used in the BMW i3 feature eight modules, each containing 12 cells and were developed in-house by the BMW Group for DANNAR. The packs are currently delivered to DANNAR’s Indiana assembly facility from BMW’s plant in Dingolfing, Germany.


Besides its partnership with BMW for batteries, DANNAR works with other suppliers - Parker Hannifin for the mobile hydraulic system, UQM Technologies for the traction motor, and Cummins for an optional tier 4 generator.


The MPS is designed with off-the-shelf, top of the line components, making it the first zero emission off-road configuration designed to carry this much energy and utility,” said DANNAR founder and CEO Gary Dannar. “These partnerships are vital components to our success moving forward. It is an exciting time to be part of the electrification of vehicles and equipment.


An optional 60 kW Tier 4 generator provides 600 kWh of continuous, off-grid electricity and battery recharging. Combined with a 50-gallon fuel tank, the MPS can recharge itself for days before refueling.


With a towing capacity of 100,000 pounds and optional work arms with a 7,000 pound load capacity, the MPS outperforms traditional equipment.

The onboard hydraulic power unit provides a universal quick plate for any Caterpillar® or Bobcat® attachments, as well as hydraulic tool circuits for chain saws, breakers or impact wrenches.


It can be outfitted with multiple seasonal configurations, making it more cost-effective to operate, while providing more work value, than traditional diesel equipment.


The DANNAR Mobile Power Station utilizes a heavy-duty e-drive system made by UQM, a Colorado developer and manufacturer of high-efficiency electric motors, generators, power electronic controllers and fuel cell compressors for the commercial truck, bus, automotive and marine markets.


“UQM has been with us every step of the way and is the ideal electric propulsion partner for this type of mission critical heavy-duty electric off road zero-emission vehicle,” said Dannar. “UQM’s leading power density and e-drive technology pairs perfectly with our other industry leading partners, and has helped create this extraordinary vehicle."


UQM chief executive Joseph Mitchell said, “The DANNAR Mobile Power Station is an innovative and important vehicle, and we see this technology leading the movement towards off-road utility applications and mobile power for many critical infrastructure needs."


The DANNAR MPS was on display at the Orlando Public Works Expo August 27-30, 2017.


VW Focuses on Electric Trucks, Buses


Volkswagen Group plans to roll out battery-powered commercial vehicles targeted at urban areas as growing public concerns about air quality increase demand.


The Volkswagen Truck & Bus division will invest 1.4 billion euros (US$1.7 billion) in new technology including electric drivetrains, autonomous systems and cloud-based software, Andreas Renschler, head of the unit, told Bloomberg News on October 11.


VW Group's U.S. affiliate Navistar International will adopt some of the systems, while the company's MAN and Scania nameplates will both deliver full-electric buses next year to European cities, adding to biodiesel, hybrid systems and natural gas alternatives.


"We believe in a wide range of alternative powertrains and fuels, depending on local availability, social and local demand and customer requirements," Renschler said at a press event. "Therefore it is crucial that policy makers adopt a technology-neutral approach" in any regulations”.


Electric trucks for local deliveries will probably exceed a five percent market share by 2025, Renschler said. That compares to a forecast of about 25 percent for battery-powered cars.


In heavy-duty trucks for long-haul transportation, today's battery technology still has a big hurdle to overcome - meeting the necessary energy requirements would disproportionately reduce load capacity, Renschler explained in a statement.


Alternatives exist in combustion engines powered by gas or biodiesel. Running engines on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is a solution that holds great future potential for long-haul transportation, Renschler said. "The future is looking rosy for this technology in long-haul transportation thanks to LNG’s high energy density."


The VW brand Scania presented the first LNG truck in EURO VI back in 2014. An LNG campaign was launched in September 2017 in cooperation with Volkswagen’s Group Logistics.


Initiatives are also under way to find a different way to electrify heavy-duty trucks to make sure that their range and load capacity are suitable for long-haul traffic.


The buzzword for this area of development is “e-road,” which focuses on the use of overhead power lines, as in the rail sector.


Trucks powered by overhead lines can run with zero emissions, and any batteries can be charged depending on how many emission-free kilometers lie ahead. A test route for electric Scania trucks already exists in Sweden. Test routes have also been announced in Germany.


Drive systems of the future will not be uniform, since their aim is to achieve an intelligent transition from diesel engines to alternative drive systems and fuels, said Renschler.


Volkswagen Truck & Bus has announced its aim of becoming number one in the field of alternative drive systems,” Renschler said. “The company already has a broadly diversified portfolio, which offers the best possible foundation for this endeavor.”


Tesla Keeps Semi Under Wraps


California-based automaker Tesla had originally planned to unveil its new all-electric truck, the Tesla Semi, at the end of September.


Then, Tesla CEO Elon Musk pushed the prototype reveal back to October 26, and now it has been put off again - to November 16.


Musk tweeted the reason for rescheduling the unveiling, "Diverting resources to fix Model 3 bottlenecks & increase battery production for Puerto Rico & other affected areas."


Musk announced plans to manufacture a semi-truck in a tweet in April 2017. Now we know that the truck may be able to drive itself and automatically move in platoons with other big rigs.


The global financial services firm Morgan Stanley in September called the unveiling of the Tesla Semi "the biggest catalyst in trucking in decades" and they expect that the electric truck could be 70 percent cheaper to operate than a diesel-powered truck.


Morgan Stanley analysts Ravi Shankar and Adam Jonas have predicted that Tesla’s new truck will likely force other manufacturers to reveal their own plans for electric commercial trucks.


Shankar and Jonas expect the Tesla Semi to finally go on sale in 2020, but the company will take orders starting when the prototype is revealed.


They predict that Tesla will deliver 25,000 units per year and generate revenue of $0.25 per mile from leasing batteries. Based on these calculations, the analysts expect Tesla's trucks to generate sales of $11.7 billion by 2028.


Don't Count Diesel Out Yet


This UD2600 diesel-powered truck is made by the Japanese company UD Trucks Corporation, a wholly owned
subsidiary of the Volvo Group. UD Trucks has a diesel product line that includes trucks from medium-duty
Class 5 through heavy-duty Class 8. Boston, Massachusetts (Photo by Jason Lawrence)



Eight U.S. states in the Northeast region are set to receive US$306 million as part of the emissions settlement from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust.


This settlement resolves allegations that Volkswagen violated the U.S. Clean Air Act by the sale of 590,000 model year 2009 to 2016 diesel motor vehicles equipped with defeat devices, in the form of computer software designed to cheat on federal emissions tests.


The excess pollutants at issue here are oxides of nitrogen (NOx), particularly nitrogen dioxide, which inflames the lining of the lungs, reducing immunity to lung infections.


NOx pollution contributes to the formation of smog and soot, exposure to which is linked to asthma and other respiratory and cardiovascular health effects, as well as premature death.


Children, older adults, people who are active outdoors, and people with heart or lung disease are particularly at risk.

This settlement money is earmarked for projects that immediately reduce NOx emissions.


The Diesel Technology Forum, an industry advocacy group, is urging the trucking industry not to abandon diesel fuel in its search for NOx reductions, but to upgrade to the new generation of diesel technology.


Diesel is the technology of choice for commercial trucking, marine and rail applications, and the benefits of the new generation of technology offer the Northeast states the fastest and most proven way to cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Yet fewer than one-third of diesel trucks in the Northeast use the cleanest, newest diesel technology, said the Forum in a statement.


Applying VW settlement funds to replace or update the largest and oldest trucks, industrial marine and locomotive engines in the Northeast with the newest clean diesel technology would yield immediate NOx benefits at the lowest cost per ton, compared to electrification in the opinion of the DTF.


Forum members represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and emissions-control systems.


"Regulators across the Northeast must recognize the current and future role of diesel technology in the global goods movement sector, and the substantial, immediate clean air and climate benefits that come from the accelerated adoption of the latest clean diesel technology," said Ezra Finkin, director of policy and external relations at the Diesel Technology Forum, speaking at the Northeast Diesel Collaborative Partners Meeting, September 25-26 in Newark, New Jersey.


"East Coast communities near manufacturing hubs, shipping/trucking throughways and ports will benefit the most from accelerating the introduction of newer clean diesel technology in emission reduction," Finkin said.


Trucks registered in these eight states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, make up 10 percent of the 5.6 million-vehicle U.S. commercial fleet. Nearly 10 percent of the nation's diesel engines are manufactured in those states.


Because of its unique combination of power, performance, efficiency, reliability, durability and availability, diesel power is projected to remain the dominant technology for global goods movement on land and sea by some forecasters.


The Fuels Institute, using analysis from Navigant Research, predicts that by 2025 diesel will still be the predominant engine type powering commercial vehicles. Battery electric, fuel cell and natural gas powertrains will only make up about three percent of the commercial vehicle fleet.


The newest generation of clean diesel technology achieves near-zero levels of NOx emissions and particulate matter emissions, while also maintaining an efficiency and performance advantage over other fuels.


The newest generation of clean diesel trucks have NOx emissions that are 99 percent lower than previous generations, along with 98 percent fewer emissions of particulate matter. Beginning in 2011, all heavy-duty diesel trucks sold in the United States had to meet NOx emissions of no more than 0.20 grams per brake horse-power hour (g/BHP-hr), in addition to particulate emissions levels of no more than 0.01 g/BHP-hr, as established in 2007.


"Diesel is the technology of choice for commercial trucking, marine and rail applications, and the benefits of the new generation of technology offer the Northeast states the fastest and most proven way to cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions," said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Forum.


The U.S. Department of Transportation states that, using the latest emissions model generated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one ton of NOx emissions may be eliminated by investing, on average, US$20,000 in clean diesel technology as compared with $1 million in alternative fuel infrastructure.


By Sunny Lewis – Environment News Service