If not electric, this could be the time for natural gas to shine, says Dan Gilkes.
Iveco has been pushing Natural Gas as an option on its vans, trucks and buses for a long time, with some success, having sold more than 15,000 gas vehicles to date across Europe. However the current focus on emissions could be the moment that CNG really takes off.
The Daily Natural Power uses a 3.0-litre spark ignition engine delivering 136hp and 350Nm of torque. It can be run on compressed natural gas (CNG) or compressed bio-methane (CBM).
Iveco claims that companies can save around 20% on fuel cost with CNG compared to diesel, while gas delivers a reduction in CO2 emissions of around 80%, a drop in particulate matter of 95% and a 35% cut in nitrogen oxide levels. There is also no requirement for AdBlue, no DPF or SCR system, plus a natural gas engine also tends to be much quieter than a similarly sized diesel, making it a popular choice for urban use particularly for night time deliveries.
As the Daily NP is built on the line alongside diesel models, customers can choose from a wide range of Iveco’s Daily vans, minibuses and chassis cabs with CNG. You can even opt for single and crew cabs on the chassis cab versions. There are multiple tank options available too, providing ranges of 155-280 miles between refills. The Daily Natural Gas can also be equipped with a 50-mile petrol tank to ensure that there is no risk of being stranded if a gas refill is not possible.
Which brings us to the natural gas infrastructure hurdle. At present there are only around 20 publicly-accessible gas filling stations in the UK, though Iveco can help fleets make the move to gas by providing filling station installation contacts. Unlike the electric Daily, a gas van also has a much shorter payback time of just two to three years, which means that customers will be saving money by year three and benefitting from promoting a green image.
CNG also delivers a much more familiar driving experience, which would make it easier for fleets to adopt a gas Daily. The van feels just like a mid-range diesel Daily, with the same easy driving characteristics and enough power and torque to easily keep pace with traffic in town and on the dual carriageway. You can also choose from a wide range of Daily options, including the popular Daily Plus and Daily Top packs, that add luxuries like air conditioning, suspended driver’s seating and heated mirrors.
The gas tanks fit below the standard van floor, so there is no loss of load capacity, while payloads range from 885-1,075kg on a 3.5-tonne van depending on body height and length. Iveco is hoping that natural gas vans will also benefit from any rise in gross weight allowance if and when it happens, making a 4.25-tonne Daily Natural Power a very attractive option for urban and home delivery companies.
“Natural gas vehicles now offer a real and practical alternative to diesel with NOx and particulate matter in particular substantially lower,” said Martin Flach, Iveco’s alternative fuels director.
What we think
If you can get around the gas supply issue, the Daily NP delivers a low emission option that will provide a real payback for fleets, and deliver a non-diesel solution.