While South Africa’s low fuel quality continues to prevent us embracing the emission friendly Euro 5 and Euro 6 engines that are part and parcel of the European scene, interesting news from Iveco’s head-office overseas is that the company is making giant strides forward in supplying natural gas-powered vehicles to the market.
According to the company, the first units of the Iveco Stralis Natural Power EuroVI, the new heavy range of launched by Iveco, have been delivered to European customers.
Overseas truck manufacturers like Iveco have long embraced the environmental challenges facing the industry with natural gas-powered vehicles being especially suitable for transport operations in sectors such as short and medium-long range logistics and distribution as well as municipal services, such as waste collection and transportation.
Through this latest development, Iveco claims to have taken the lead in the alternative fuel technology sector by offering a complete range of light, medium and heavy commercial vehicles as well as buses powered by natural gas. A total of over 12 000 units have been sold to date, 2 000 of which were sold in 2013.
The extensive product range for the new Stralis Natural Power Euro VI – with 2 and 3-axle rigids and 2-axle tractors – are manufactured at the Iveco plant in Madrid on the same assembly line as the diesel models. They are fitted with the Cursor 8 Natural Power engine ranging from 270 to 330 hp.
The engine is coupled to a 16-gear manual ZF transmission or 6-speed Allison automatic transmission with hydraulic torque converter. CNG models have an overall tank capacity ranging between 400 to 1 300 litres with layouts that can be tailored to suit customer needs.
Along with the CNG version, the Stralis Natural Power is also available with Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) for medium and long range operations giving a cruising range of 750 km. The tractor, AT440S33T/P LNG in standard configuration, is equipped with four 70-litre CNG tanks and a 525-litre LNG cryogenic tank. Natural gas is stored in its liquid state at -130°C and at 9-bar pressure, which is then converted into a gaseous state before being injected into the engine.
Iveco claims to be the only European manufacturer to have confirmed its CNG technology strategy in the evolution from Euro V to Euro VI. For the techno-geeks among us, natural gas FPT industrial engines are characterised by stoichiometric combustion – in other words, a chemically balanced air-fuel ratio – 100% fuelled by natural gas; Otto cycle with spark plugs that ignite the air-fuel mixture injected by a rail, with two injectors per cylinder. Exhaust gas is treated by a standard passive three-way catalyst that doesn’t require the use of any additives.
This vehicle boats numerous benefits both in terms of environmental sustainability as well as customer profitability. With regards to emissions, Euro VI natural gas engines are much “greener” than their Euro VI diesel counterpart. Natural gas is an absolute clean fuel thanks to its particulate emissions (-95% in comparison to diesel) and NOx (-35%) being slashed to the bare minimum.
Furthermore, these vehicles make it possible to reduce vehicle CO2 emissions from 10% up to 100% if bio-methane is used. Lastly, it is a more silent vehicle with an average decrease of five decibels in comparison to diesel models, making it perfect for waste collection and night-time distribution.
In terms of cost efficiency, Iveco says overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) savings stand at up to 10%. Lower prices for natural gas in comparison to diesel also means higher profitability, translating into up to 40% in fuel expense reductions, the most important aspect relating to TCO.