Iveco will deliver 80 articulated 4-door Urbanway buses powered by natural gas to the City of Nantes, in western France. Purchased by Nantes Métropole (the City of Nantes administrative department) and Semitan (the semi-public company for public transport in Nantes), this is an initial order that sets the basis for future acquisitions.
The flagship vehicle in this range of buses will be delivered at the end of this year, with the 79 additional units to be rolled out progressively until the end of August 2017. The buses seat 32 and can carry 109 passengers.
A total of 110 and 130 vehicles is expected to be required by Nantes Métropole and Semitan for the period 2016-2020. The new articulated buses will replace 58 existing versions and 67 standard vehicles. Five additional vehicles will be purchased to expand the fleet.
Iveco describes natural gas engines as the best alternative fuel systems on the market, both in economic and environmental terms, confirmed by the decision of Nantes Métropole and Semitan to use this technology across the city.
As one of the pioneering public transport networks choosing to adopt these systems, Nantes took delivery of the first natural gas-powered bus in 1997. Today, 72% of the Nantes fleet of buses run on natural gas.
This fuel offers a number of advantages over diesel: exhaust gases are far less harmful to health, primarily due to a reduction of the fine particulate matter released into the air by diesel engines. These are the emissions responsible for the higher rates of respiratory diseases in urban areas. In addition, noise and vibration levels are also reduced with natural gas engines.
The choice of natural gas is also beneficial from an economic perspective. This is due to a number of structural factors: natural gas is much more stable and less expensive than diesel fuel, with extensive, well-distributed global reserves.
In addition, the infrastructure investments required to run natural gas vehicles have already been made at Semitan’s three centres of operation. As a result, the full cost of ownership and operation of natural gas buses is highly competitive when compared with other energy sources.
The articulated Urbanway buses ordered are equipped with Iveco Cursor 8 330 hp natural gas engines, produced in the factory in Bourbon-Lancy, in the Saône-et-Loire region. This type of engine is already well known in Nantes, as it has been used on earlier environmentally-friendly vehicle versions and is still running on a number of buses currently operating on the network.
The benefits of this Iveco Bus natural gas engine are particularly evident when compared to a Euro VI diesel engine: NOx -35%, fine particulate matter -95%, CO2 up to -10%, noise emissions -50%.
Sylvain Blaise, Head of Iveco Bus, made the following comment: “We are very proud of this significant order that symbolises a new strong partnership for Iveco Bus. We would like to thank Semitan and Nantes Métropole for choosing our proposal, which represents a relevant and effective solution to the challenges we are facing in light of regulations that are being introduced concerning energy transition, namely safeguarding air quality, public health and the environment, and ensuring quiet operation!”.
Global Market for Natural gas Buses
According to Iveco, there are nearly 2,500 of these buses currently in circulation in France. Iveco vehicles account for nearly 95% of the country’s overall fleet of natural gas-powered buses. Furthermore, the company can also put its name to an additional 3,000 vehicles running in major fleets operating in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Greece. In total, over 5,500 of these buses are in circulation worldwide: outside Europe, 302 vehicles are on the roads of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, while in China, 1,400 local-brand buses in the Beijing and Shanghai networks are equipped with Iveco natural gas engines.
Iveco Bus buses are produced in Annonay, in the Ardèche region of France.