Guest Truck & Van completes Ocado CNG trial

Bal Singh, key account director at Guests, with Graham Thomas, Ocado fleet manager.

Resistance to the take-up of alternative fuel vehicles may be showing signs of decreasing, according to Guest Truck & Van.

Robert Spittle, managing director of Guest Truck and Van, says that their sales and technical teams are helping customers, particularly fleet managers to slowly overcome objections that they or their drivers might have.

He said: “The efficiency statistics show that there are definitely both economic and environmental advantages to using Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) power, and driver feedback tells us that there is no compromise on power.

“However, the current lack of refuelling infrastructure right across the UK means that it takes some research and planning to make sure that a CNG vehicle is the right addition to a fleet.”

Guest’s most recent range test has been with Ocado Group.

In the latest of a series of practical CNG tests with Ocado, Guest’s key account director Bal Singh joined Ocado fleet manager Graham Thomas in the cab for an almost non-stop return trip from Hatfield to Manchester to prove the range capability of an IVECO NP400 Stralis.

Thomas said: “Around 30% of the Ocado truck fleet is already powered by CNG and although people are sometimes resistant to change, many of our drivers have commented favourably on the change over to the CNG powered Iveco Stralis, although range remains a concern for most.

“Before we took any CNG vehicles onto the fleet we had to have a very close look at the logistics of routes and fuelling because the only practical restriction to CNG is not having the option to refuel easily away from our base. 

“This has resulted in range anxiety in some of our drivers who are working the longer routes, particularly between our Hatfield base and some of the further away spokes such as Leeds and Manchester. 

"According to our calculations, it was feasible to complete a return journey on either of these trips with fuel to spare, providing you set off with a full tank.

"During the trip, the Iveco NP400 Stralis 4 x 2 with its lightly loaded trailer, (simulating a typical load for this route) achieved 21.4kgs/100km on the 597kms journey and returned to base with fuel still left in the tank. 

"The truck didn't miss a beat for the entire trip, the cursor 9 engine really was working at it's most efficient on this route, maximising the environmental benefits offered by the CNG Stralis, and to top it off, on this route running on CNG is around 14pence/km cheaper to run than our diesel equivalent."

During the trip, the Iveco NP400 Stralis 4 x 2 with its lightly loaded trailer, simulating a typical load for this route, achieved 12.4mpg on the 590kms journey and returned to base with fuel still left in the tank.

Ocado’s hub and spoke distribution operation means it has regular, fixed trunking routes so are well placed to be at the forefront of new technology. 

Spittle said: “It’s easy to see the issue that some fleet managers might have when they’re introducing new technology or practices, and telling someone is never as convincing as showing them. 

“Bal and Graham’s trip will hopefully demonstrate to the Ocado team, not only the capability of the truck but also the confidence that we have as the dealer and Graham has as the fleet manager that CNG is the right choice for this route.”

Photo caption: Bal Singh, key account director at Guests, with Graham Thomas, Ocado fleet manager.

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