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Be-Trans orders ten Nikola hydrogen trucks


• 12/12/2018 •

Early November, Be-Trans ordered ten hydrogen-powered trucks from Nikola Motors. At the same time, the company bought two LNG trucks from Volvo. Be-Trans is also increasing sustainability with its own windmill and an eco-combi.

"At the beginning of November, I was in the US when Nikola revealed it would be introducing its electric truck powered by hydrogen in Europe. I immediately ordered ten," says Bert Vranckx, managing director of Be-Trans. He learned that the Tre model will be fully tested by 2022 or 2023 and that the first units will be driven in Norway because the initial network of hydrogen stations will be rolled out there. "The rest of Europe will soon follow, so I expect our trucks to be operational by 2025."

According to Vranckx, thinking greener is a road haulier's social duty. “I believe in hydrogen because it allows trucks to drive emission-free. In the meantime, liquid natural gas will help with the transition. That is why we have ordered two LNG trucks from Volvo Trucks, which will be delivered in March,” he adds.

Natural gas as a transition fuel

Vranckx wants to use the two vehicles for the experience. “We currently have 200 trucks in our fleet. The renewal of the fleet will start in 2021 at a rate of 50 per year. By then we will make an evaluation and see to what extent the network of LNG filling stations has expanded. There will be a dozen operational in Belgium next year. In France, there are currently 25, in the Netherlands 24 and in Germany only 3. We frequently drive internationally and, therefore, must take the presence of a solid network into account.”

Autonomy in terms of electricity

Vranckx also reports that he will have a windmill built on the Be-Trans sites in Geel at the beginning of 2019. “It will be the first one to be installed by a transporter for own use in the Kempen. The windmill will allow us to generate half of the electricity we use in the offices and warehouses ourselves. We will also install solar panels which will make us almost completely autonomous in terms of electricity,” he adds.

The windmill has horizontally rotating blades. This allows it to remain under 43 metres in height and means it falls outside the EIA rules which can be time-consuming.

Producing hydrogen

Incidentally, Vranckx is studying whether windmills can produce the hydrogen for the Nikola trucks. “This technology is not yet sufficiently on track to be profitable, but the outlook is promising. By the time the trucks are delivered, we will be five or six years down the line. I expect that the cost price of locally produced hydrogen with electricity from wind energy will have dropped sufficiently by then," he says.


Another effort in more sustainable transport is the purchase of an eco-combi. "Our trajectory between Geel and Antwerp is one of the thirty that have just been approved. We bought the combination from Van Hool and it is nearly ready. We still have to wait for the truck, which will be delivered in January. Then we can have the vehicle inspected. We hope to be able to start on 30 January," explains Vranckx.

Three drivers will have completed the necessary training by then. "We want to commute day and night between our offices in Geel and the port of Antwerp. This way, we will further optimise transport, so that in addition to becoming more sustainable we are also contributing to a better mobility."


Source: Flows; Philippe Van Dooren


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