Brit European (lead): Fleet operator
Microlise: Telematics provider
CNG Services: Gas and station provider
Trial funded trucks:
30 CNG Mercedes Benz trucks with Hardstaff OIGI dual fuel system conversions operated by Brit European
6 CNG MAN trucks with Prins dual fuel system conversions operated by Brit European
Trial funded refuelling stations:
1 mobile CNG station based in Foston (at Brit European) operated by CNG services
Based in Crewe, not far from JCB's world headquarters in Staffordshire, Brit European Transport Ltd. is the largest mover of plant and construction equipment in the UK. The company began transporting JCB machines in 1998 and the two companies have recently signed a new five-year contract for distribution to UK dealers and to ports, principally Southampton and Felixstowe, for overseas shipments.
Having secured £1 million funding from the TSB, Brit European has invested around £4 million in a new fleet of 30 dual-fuel Mercedes tractor units jointly branded with JCB. After a lot of homework and looking at all the alternatives, the company concluded that, for the foreseeable future, the only real alternative for heavy trucks was natural gas in combination with diesel.
Brit European aims to demonstrate CO2 savings of up to 25% and a reduction of operating costs of 5% during the trial. "This is the only way we can retain the power to operate at 44 tons," says Managing Director Graham Lackey. "You need a high-powered compression engine right at the limits and we were convinced relatively early that the manifold technology to deliver gas and diesel in combination worked."
The new tractor units are retro-fitted with a gas conversion. "Mercedes, with whom we have a long-standing relationship, were the ones who came to the party and really wanted to make this happen," says Lackey.
"As a vehicle fuel, at the moment the issue is about delivering it at the pumps, but I am already aware of one major supplier which has a long-term strategy for delivering gas as a fuel. If you look outside the UK, in Italy there are over a million vehicles running on natural gas. Around the world, there are six or seven million gas-powered vehicles. The European Commission wants to create blue highways, east, west, north and south across Europe to allow more use of gas vehicles.
"We have taken the initiative to build our own station, but there are also a number of other fuelling facilities being built in the UK under the TSB programme. You would be surprised how few you need to operate around the UK. The distances are not that long and you are travelling on certain key highways. As long as they are taken care of there is a way forward".