Recently, Stuart Webster, Managing Director, Iveco UK & Ireland spoke glowingly on the merits of natural gas power in commercial vehicles. From vans to medium duty trucks to heavy-duty tractor-units, the Italian manufacturer leads the field in research and innovative development in the sector.
“Natural gas is a fundamental seed change. Admittedly, no one is going to invest in this technology until they can be sure of its practicalities and confident in its benefits. Our Natural Power (Natural Gas) products are opening doors for us in a way that no other products have. It gives us a lever into many of the larger fleets.
Stuart was however conscious of the need for a service/refill network. “Of course, much of its success depends on hand-in-glove development of the infrastructure needed to support gas vehicles and the suppliers. In simple terms, we cannot do it without them.” On hearing of the funding available from the European Union through Bord Gas Networks for Ireland, Stuart added; “We are delighted with this support and to be sure, we are working closely with them and their forward plans,” he added.
Incidentally, both parties jointly sponsored the Green Fleet Management with Natural Power Conference held at the Citywest Hotel, Dublin on 9 May.
The multi-award winning Daily van range benefits from Natural Gas power throughout, from panel vans, chassis/cab platform and minibus formats. One driveline is offered, a 3.0 litre engine with 140 horsepower, covering from 3.5 tonnes to 7.0 tonnes GVW. Visually, there is nothing different to notice about the natural power version compared to the standard diesel edition. It is only when the van is moving, really, that you may be aware that this isn’t a regular oil-burner. Up through the gears, the engine works smoothly and when in top gear the overall noise from the block is much quieter.
At times, with this loaded van, we felt that a little more horsepower at the top end was needed. This meant that we had to work the gearbox a touch more. Maybe Iveco should consider offering the 170hp unit with the 3.0 litre displacement that is also available on the Daily.
Written on the side of the specially liveried test vehicle was ‘Daily Low Emission for every mission’ which describes one of the main advantages of Natural Gas power. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is cleaner, cheaper to buy, has more torque and should the gas run out, there is a small petrol tank to bring the vehicle home, albeit in reduced power mode (up to 100km). In terms of reduced fuel costs, it allows savings of about 40% compared to equivalent diesel prices. And it is safe.
The tanks are tested to withstand double the operating pressure. In the event of a leak, the gas disperses rapidly because it is lighter than air. Daily NP is allowed to enter underground parking garages, depending on roof height of course, and also allowed to board ferries and low emission zones, due to its reduced carbon footprint. According to the Gross Vehicle Weight version, the wheelbase lengths offered stretch from 3520 to 4100mm, with a cargo capacity of up to 6190mm, which is unique in its class. That’s for the van variant.
On the chassis cabs, they have a wheelbase choice from 3450mm to 4750mm and a body-mounting length of up to 6190mm, again class leading.
Natural Gas is one of the fuels for the future, but already today it represents an economical and ecological solution to Ireland’s ongoing environmental problems. To date the Iveco CNG line-up has already reached 10,000 units across Europe. Expect Ireland to make its contribution to additional sales in due course, as the investment in infrastructure and fleet purchases continues.
Thanks to Virginia Transport (Cavan) for use of its CNG refilling facility in Ballycoolin, Dublin during the test drive exercise.
|Make/Model||Iveco Daily 35S14 Natural Power|
|Body type||Panel Van|
|Engine||3.0 litre Compressed Natural Gas Euro 6|
|Power||100 kW/136hp @ 2730-3500 rpm|
|Torque||350Nm @ 1500-2730 rpm|
|Brakes||Front and Rear Discs|
|Suspension||Front: Quad Leaf: Twin fishbone, Parabolic
Rear: Parabolic springs
|Tanks||168 litre (to 246 litre) CNG|
|Towing||3500kg braked 750kg unbraked|