Diesel News’ man in Europe Will Shiers was suffering from range anxiety on his attempt to get into the record books by driving a natural gas-powered Iveco Stralis from London to Madrid on a single fill of LNG.
Here is first of his reports on the adventure:
When I get home from work to find my mother-in-law’s broomstick leaning against my front door I get very stressed. But these stress levels pale into insignificance when compared with crawling up a Spanish motorway incline at 25kph, with a queue of traffic in the rear view mirrors, just 3-bar of natural gas in the tank, dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree, and another 4km to drive before potentially setting a new world record. Let me start at the beginning.
Iveco is having a massive push on natural gas in Europe. In fact, its stand at September’s IAA Show in Hannover, Germany, was a diesel-free zone. This sounds like a risky strategy when you consider that currently some 95 per cent of its customers only buy diesel, but it’s definite proof of its belief that gas is a viable alternative to what is fast becoming the European public’s most hated fuel.
Iveco’s strategy is simple, compressed natural gas (CNG) for short-haul and liquified natural gas (LNG) for long-haul. While Iveco (along with rivals Volvo and Scania) is pushing natural gas hard, and starting to see some significant sales, unfortunately it’s taking slightly longer to persuade the fuel companies to set up an adequate filling infrastructure.
While the UK has a relatively good network, with over 20 sites, parts of Europe have woefully poor coverage. With this in mind Iveco is eager to prove to the world that LNG has such a good range that you don’t need a filling station on every motorway junction.
Last year, with me at the wheel, an Iveco Stralis NP400 4×2 running at 30 tonnes, managed to drive the 1347km from John o’Groats at the tip of Scotland, to Land’s End, Cornwall, in south west England (the longest possible drive on the UK mainland), on a single fill of LNG.
Since then Iveco has launched the Cursor 13-powered NP460. With its ZF TraXon (Hi-Tronix) gearbox and GPS-based predictive Hi-Cruise, the newcomer is more fuel efficient than its lower-powered sibling. In fact, Iveco reckons the 4×2 prime mover, with its combined 405kg twin tanks, can achieve a range of 1,600km. To put this impressive claim to the test I was asked to drive one from London to the Spanish capital Madrid on a single fill of LNG. Sounds like a good plan right? Well there’s just one small problem, Madrid is more than 1,700km from London!