Ecomotive - Archive

Buses, coaches and trucks: the CNG turning point



Recent Anfia data highlight the great economic impact of Natural Gas and its increasingly central role as an alternative fuel

Paolo Castiglia

Bus, trucks, trailers, semi-trailers, in short, the entire heavy duty automotive supply chain is discovering what might well be considered a fundamental economic turning point, natural gas. Positive for the environment, no doubt, but also a positive economic circuit that involves, first and foremost, our manufacturers.

According to data provided by Anfia, 2017 marked a significant increase in new CNG and LNG powered truck sales, with 503 new vehicles, equal to 131% more compared to 2016. A fact that highlights the increasingly central role played by natural gas as an alternative fuel in heavy duty transport: a sector where 89% of new natural gas powered vehicles are Iveco, which holds the leadership in this segment with over 22,000 trucks produced in the last 20 years. At the beginning of 2018, this trend continues with 50 additional vehicles coming out of the production lines, 48 of which are Iveco.

Anfia strongly argues that LNG is the best sustainable short-term solution for long-distance freight transport. However, to further promote this technology – enhancing the competitiveness of the industry as well as heavy duty transport and logistics services in Italy - it is essential to provide timely incentives to encourage the purchase of such vehicles by companies involved in transporting freight and people, and above all, stimulating a widespread diffusion of infrastructures, such as filling stations, throughout the country.

In this regard, it is worth mentioning that on February 9, 2018 a new LNG fuel station for heavy transport vehicles opened near Brembate. So far, the distribution network in Italy includes 15 LNG distribution plants and 10 LNG tanks serving Cng distribution plants for transport vehicles.

In more general terms, the market for buses with a total GVW of over 3,500 kg recorded, in January, 434 new units (+ 33.1%). With a positive sign we find also city buses (+ 100%), coaches (+ 51.1%), tourist buses (+ 18.8%) and school buses (+ 24.4%), while a decline was recorded for midibuses ( -28.6%) and minibuses (-1.7%).

Still in January 2018, 2,598 new registration certificates were issued (+ 17.7% compared to January 2017) and 1,457 new registration certificates for new heavy duty trailers and semi-trailers, ie with a GVW exceeding 3,500 kg (+16,3%), divided into 138 trailers (+ 8.7%) and 1,319 semi-trailers (+ 17.1%).

New registrations grew also in the Bus and Coach sector during 2017, with 125 units sold of which 95 were national brands (Industria Italiana Autobus, Iveco bus and Fiat). Public transport is a sector of great economic importance and strongly in need of an urgent upgrade, hence alternative fuels can make an essential contribution to the development of sustainable mobility.

Here too Italian manufacturers play a leading role thanks to their leadership in the production of alternative vehicles: electric, hybrid, hydrogen, CNG and LNG. Furthermore, in our country, 500 minibuses are registered each year on average. These commercial vehicles, 40% of which are produced by Iveco and Cnh, are powered by a variety of different fuels and systems (natural gas, bio-methane and electricity).

This segment, therefore, presents a wide range of eco-friendly solutions addressing  an increasingly sustainable passengers and freight transport demand.


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