IVECO Australia is looking to the future as it continues to transition towards more sustainable transport solutions beyond its current Euro6 model range.
Heavy-duty solutions are also on the cards. Behind the scenes the company has been evaluating and implementing the necessary processes, infrastructure and support services required to introduce alternative-fuelled models, including products available to it under a joint venture with Nikola Corporation.
“With our IVECO joint venture partner Nikola BEV/FCBEV, heavy-duty solutions are becoming a reality. In fact our production facility in Ulm, Germany, recently completed a 12-month phase of design, testing and validation on the models and prototype vehicles are at an advanced stage of development,” said long-time senior IVECO product manager, Marco Quaranta, who now steps into the role of strategic projects and industry relations manager.
This newly created position comes as part of IVECO Australia’s recent organisational restructure, which sees alternative fuels and technologies placed front and centre
Quaranta will be tasked with helping to propel IVECO Australia forward in this evolving space.
“Bringing the vehicles down under will be the easy part; the challenge is the preparation for the launch. Fortunately for IVECO, we have a highly experienced, local engineering and validation team with the skills and link to our central engineering teams to test and develop customised solutions for the unique ANZ market requirements,” Quaranta added.
He will also act as a resource for IVECO customers who are looking to take their first steps in reducing the carbon footprint of their fleets. Additionally, he will play a role in meeting and liaising with key industry stakeholders and advocacy groups to further promote IVECO’s alternative fuel capabilities.
According to Quaranta, there is growing interest from customers wanting to know more about their options when it came to alternative fuels for commercial vehicles.
“During my short time in the role, I’ve already had many discussions with customers who are curious of their options to reduce the impact of their vehicles beyond what Euro6 can deliver,” he said.
Quaranta adds that although alternative fuelled vehicles aren’t new to Australia, it hasn’t reached its full potential due to a lack of refuelling infrastructure.
“At the time, the interest in natural gas was being driven by high diesel prices, but once prices stabilised, CNG and LNG-powered trucks became less attractive, and demand dropped,” he said.
“This latest interest in alternative technologies is stronger and not born from a desire to save costs, but rather, to reduce emissions – that’s the driving factor.”
While natural gas remains an opportunity in the alternative fuels space, as it emits less particulate matter and virtually zero nitrogen oxides compared to diesel, Quaranta says market interest seems to be pointing towards electric propulsion.
“In Australia, natural gas vehicles are still a viable consideration – they offer a reasonable range and would work well with the right infrastructure in place,” he said.
“If the source of the gas comes from landfill capture, this adds an additional ‘green’ element, making the fuel even more attractive.”
With several biomass facilities already operating in Australia, Quaranta says IVECO is in a strong position to reintroduce gas-powered trucks and vans if there is demand.
“In Europe thanks to more government support for operators and refuelling facilities, natural gas-powered vehicles are popular and make up a considerable portion of the overall commercial vehicle fleet,” he explained.
In relation to electric vehicles, Quaranta says the technology is rapidly advancing.
“I believe that electricity is the fuel of the future for commercial vehicles. For local pick-up and delivery, refuse collection and other back-to-base applications it’s battery power, but ultimately for longer distances it will be hydrogen technology that’s used to recharge electric fuel cells.
“IVECO ANZ will continue to explore and invest in this space with our local engineering skills seeking to leverage universities, alternate fuel bodies and the broader network to add value to the alternative propulsion push for the region.”