One of Iveco’s main strengths throughout its relatively short history has been the high regard many operators and those in trucking have had for its engine design and durability.
In fact, such has been its excellent reputation that the group created a separate division/company called Fiat Power Train (FPT) which sold engines to other manufacturers across a broad spectrum of industrial uses, as well into the vast majority of the Case New Holland (CNH) industrial group.
One other area often associated with Iveco is its interest in alternative fuels both at the lighter end with Daily and the heavier end with EuroCargo, EuroTech/Star and Stralis.
Of course, the latest version Stralis NP continues this tradition but with one important difference – the time appears right for the alternative fuels with customers appearing ready to engage with more than just casual interest.
As if to confirm its belief in the change of direction, Iveco at the recent IAA Show in Hannover presented an indoor stand of almost 20 vehicles all of which were diesel-free for the first time in the show's history. This was part of their sustainable transport solutions ranging from the Daily Blue Power Van of the Year 2018 to the Stralis NP 460 Low Carbon Truck of the Year 2018.
This is no flash in the pan as confirmed by Pierre Lahutte, Iveco brand president. At the show he said: “Iveco is the first manufacturer in the history of the IAA to present a stand without a single diesel engine – neither on the vehicles or their bodies. The transport industry is changing, as the pressure on diesel mounts and the energy transition gains momentum. Our display demonstrates that Iveco’s electric, CNG and LNG offering is available today and offers a viable alternative to diesel vehicles in all missions – from urban high-value, low energy intensity people transport to long-distance heavy-duty haulage. In addition, natural gas offers the possibility for a seamless transition to biomethane and renewable energy, achieving zero emissions and opening the door to a circular economy approach that can go so far as achieving negative emissions and carbon sequestration.”
Iveco Stralis NP
Iveco, along with what appears to be the rest of the industry, has in the most cases settled with compressed natural gas (CNG) for medium/urban distribution operating cycles and the liquified, or liquid natural gas (LNG) for long-distance operations. Stralis NP delivers a 99% reduction of particulate matter and 60% of NOx compared with Euro VI limits and is quiet at less than 71dB as well as cutting CO2 emissions by up to 95% when running on compressed or liquefied bio-methane.
One of the main advantages of switching fuel type from diesel to LNG is the engine remains virtually the same. In our case, the power unit is the familiar Cursor 13 NP engine, rated at a maximum power of 466PS (338kW) @1900 rpm and with a torque level of 2000Nm @ 1100rpm.
Of course, the NP version is not exactly the same as the diesel (although diesel is still employed) and is protected by two patents. The first patent covers the anti-detonation control system, which makes it possible to improve performance while ensuring maximum fuel compatibility, and protecting the engine and the three-way catalyst from the risk of misfiring. The second covers the reactive air flow control system, a new stoichiometric ratio control logic which is applied during gear changes. This ensures continuous torque delivery during gear shifts in the automated gearbox, ensuring optimised performance and maximum shift speed.
Behind the engine flywheel sits a 430mm diameter single dry plate clutch which transfers the power to the standard Hi-Tronix automated 12-speed gearbox with a 0.77 overdrive ratio, supplied to a single reduction rear axle.
The Stralis 460 4x2 has a wheelbase of 3,800mm and a maximum length of 6,252mm, the steel chassis frame is 6.7mm and the whole vehicle stands at 3,870mm high. The front suspension is rated at eight tonnes on a mono-leaf and the rear air 10.5-tonne suspension has four air bellows which enable the chassis to be raised by 140mm and lowered by 61mm from the standard chassis factory setup. The total vehicle kerbweight is 7,141 kgs so leaves a potential payload of 10,859kgs plus trailer, fuel tanks include a 290-litre diesel tank and a 540-litre LNG which, combined with a supplementary tank offers a range of 1,630 kms.
The conventional braking is provided by 432mm ventilated brakes all round and supplemented by a raft of electronic-based braking systems (EBS) including anti-roll back hill hold (ARB), brake-assisted system (BAS) and direct brake integration (DBI) as well as the normal ABS/ASR systems and exhaust braking.
Stralis NP is available in the “AS sleeper cab” featuring a suspended drivers seat and a sleeping area with a new Hi-Comfort lower bunk, 80cm wide and over 2m long and a 90mm thick mattress with an optional reclining backrest that allows the bunk to be used “sofa style” during short stops and rest time
On the road
After climbing into the cab and starting the engine perhaps the first thing to hit you is that there’s nothing different to this LNG truck than a diesel powered vehicle. In front of the driver is a central instrument panel, there’s a new pneumatically adjustable steering wheel with integrated phone controls etc plus Iveco’s own IVECONNECT system with CD player, radio hi-fi and touchscreen display which also runs the Driving Style Evaluation function, the navigation system and advanced telematics services.
The cab interior has been substantially upgraded from the original Stralis with a mixture of soft touch and high quality materials finished in tan and black, which offers the driver a more pleasant environment.
Once the 12-speed box is switched into drive mode, there’s hardly any in cab noise other than the door mirrors once the maximum speed has been reached. Visibility is one of the best in the industry with a nice deep front windscreen and reasonably thin A pillars.
Iveco continues to be at the forefront of CNG/LNG development for commercial vehicles and the Stralis NP is certainly gaining an excellent reputation for itself when an operator is looking to alternative fuels for long distance trunking.