Viapost equips its warehouses with CNG charging stations to fuel heavy goods vehicles

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La Poste invests €600m to move away from diesel

La Poste has announced a €600 million plan to move away from diesel by 2030 (see OT n°3114 page 12); €400 million will be devoted to the transition of its own HGV fleet and to supporting partner transporters. Interview of Alexandre Charlot, Head of Transport Purchasing for Viapost, the group's flow and network subsidiary.

How do you anticipate the introduction of new fuels in view of the requirements of low emission zones?

"Gas was our main focus, especially for long-distance transport, until there was unreasonable inflation from the summer of 2021. Biogas is virtuous but only for short-range vehicles that run on compressed natural gas (CNG). Liquefied natural gas (LNG) allows travel up to 1,500km but is not bio-based. We have not ruled out gas, but it has been held back by the economic situation."

Are you moving towards biofuels?

"We had lost interest in them in favour of gas, but they are back in the running. The Crit'Air 1 sticker awarded to exclusive B100 trucks has made us think about its use. But its constraints are not negligible, because it is not distributed in service stations and its use leads to a captive fleet. It is a short-term solution during the transition, before the electric truck, hydrogen or other energies."

The electric truck requires investments in the vehicle but also in the recharging stations. How is La Poste positioned in relation to its transport partners?

"The price of the vehicle is almost secondary in a transport service. The main thing is the man behind the wheel, and then there is the fuel. In the case of electric vehicles, it is the charger who will make the investment. We are planning to equip our warehouses with charging stations. La Poste has already invested in a gas refuelling station in Chelles (Seine-et-Marne)."

Is the electric truck too expensive to buy?

"An electric truck is three to four times more expensive than a standard vehicle, but state aid offsets a third of the extra cost. The vehicle will cost the haulier around 200,000 euros, compared with 85,000 to 100,000 euros for a diesel vehicle. As a customer, we are looking at longer-term commitments, to allow the haulier to pay off the vehicle in four to five years, instead of the current three years. However, we have no experience of the ageing of the batteries. Logically, the maintenance costs are rather reasonable."

Are drivers ready to adapt to the electric truck?

"Change management will be necessary. The new generations should be seduced by the concept. It is a vehicle that emits less odour and noise and therefore arouses interest among drivers because it offers another view of their profession. We hope that the new technologies will be an asset in recruiting the drivers of tomorrow."

L'Officiel des Transporteurs n°3114 - June 24, 2022



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