While it seems the entire world is clamouring over electric and hydrogen fuel cell trucks, no matter what the real practicalities and economics surrounding those vehicles, the reality is that many of the world’s great automotive makers are more heavily engaged in the practicalities of reducing emissions and exploring alternative fuels that will power internal combustion engine trucks similar to the ones that are running on our roads right now.

One case in point is Scania Australia which is taking bold strides towards making the adoption of alternative fuels an easier choice for the country’s transport operators.

Scania recently advised that it has signed memoranda of understanding with three providers in the bio-fuels industry, ‘in order to lubricate the path towards adoption of more sustainable and cleaner transport solutions for its customers’, the company says.

In recent weeks, Scania has signed an MOU with Wilmar Bioethanol Australia, with Ecotech Biodiesel, and the NGV Group, who are the infrastructure suppliers and consultants for Natural Gas and Biogas.

“Having held many discussions at high levels with a number of transport related entities throughout the course of the year, from governments to operators and suppliers and having noted significant enthusiasm for actually turning this into action, Scania is now moving to facilitate the adoption of alternative-fuelled vehicles in Australia,” said Anthony King, Scania Australia’s sustainable solutions manager.

“We have therefore embarked on a programme of creating MOUs with a number of key suppliers who will supply reliable, consistent and widely available fuels for customers nominating alternative fuels for their future Scania vehicles.

“This is all part of our drive towards creating a sustainable transport future,” Mr King said.

“Sustainability at Scania is based on the three pillars of energy efficiency; alternative fuels, electrification; and smart and safe transport.

“Transport contributes a quarter of total energy-related CO2 emissions and it is these emissions that are contributing to climate change. Operators do not have to wait to adapt their businesses to a sustainable transport system – the solutions are already here. Scania can provide a broad range of platforms and services to support our customers today and tomorrow,” Mr King said.

Scania does not see a ‘one-size’ fits all solution, yet by driving the shift through optimised transport systems and by choosing sustainable fuel pathways Scania is already assisting its customers to reduce emissions.

“Scania has a long heritage of designing and engineering and putting into production alternative-fuelled vehicles across our bus and truck divisions as well as our industrial engines,” Mr King said. “We already have a long-running association with gas engine supplier Sandfirden, with the first industrial gas engines already in use in Australia, able to run on waste-generated methane.

“The arrangements we are putting in place now with Wilmar Bioethanol, Ecotech Biodiesel and NGV Group are the first steps in the programme to be able to import, distribute, sell, service and maintain vehicles that run on alternative fuels, or hybrids that run on alternative fuels as well.

“Scania is awaiting the arrival of its first Hybrid buses, which will be in the country within 6-7 months,” Mr King said. In use in Madrid, these buses are showing a 25% reduction in fuel use, reducing emissions by the same amount.

“We are also looking at alternative-fuelled trucks for some customers, and we have seen in Sweden the success of the Scania Hybrid truck for urban distribution. These have the ability to run short distances on battery power alone, which allows them access to densely-populated urban areas at night for deliveries or waste collection, which leads to a reduction in congestion during daylight rush hours.

“In the UK, Scania has worked with the John Lewis Partnership, a leading, premium country-wide supermarket and department store chain to deliver bio-methane-fuelled trucks for medium-duty distribution work. These vehicles have a range of up to 800 km and achieve a CO2 reduction of 70%.

“As Scania has been a leader in the provision of Euro 6 emission control compliant vehicles in Australia – notably with the fleet of close to 100 Euro 6 buses delivered to Transport Canberra since 2014 – plus the delivery of many Scania trucks similarly compliant, it is only natural that we now look at rolling out access to further alternative fuel vehicles to a wider body of customers,” Mr King says.

“We are partnering with three different alternative fuel providers because our philosophy at Scania is to always offer solutions that meet our customers’ needs.

“For a fuel to be considered as sustainable it needs to fulfil three criteria; reduce CO2 from wheel-to-well; be available in sufficient volumes to be able to make a difference; and it must provide a competitive business case against regular diesel to make it commercially viable,” Mr King said.

Scania says it has a broad alternative fuels engine portfolio and these can operate on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG -15% CO2), Compressed Biogas (CBG -90% CO2), Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG -5% CO2) Bioethanol (-90% CO2), Biodiesel (-85% CO2) and HVO (-90% CO2) and Hybrid + HVO (-90% CO2).