The French family company Houtch follows its commitment to switch from diesel to CNG laid out in 2015. The company is expanding its fleet with 30 new CNG trucks that add to the current 50 units. The new trucks will go into service in 2021. In addition, from 2022 Houtch plans to fuel with biomethane instead of fossil CNG, purchasing from the regional biomass plant in Fresnsoy-Le-Grand.
Houtch Transports is one of the pioneers in the use of CNG trucks in France . In 2015, the brothers Alain and Hugues Houtch were looking for a way to usher in the energy transition for their forwarding company. They signed the CO 2 Charter of the Transport Industry and, on a purely practical level, looked for an alternative to diesel for their fleet of 200 vehicles, including 50 between 3.5 and 19 tons. “In the end, we decided on the CNG drive and built our own filling station, ” explains Alain Houtch. "It is open 24 hours a day and serves other transport companies in the region as well as private drivers who rely on CNG and biogas."
The company founded in 1965, has always been loyal to Renault Trucks. It was logical that the brothers turned to this manufacturer for the trucks with the more environment-friendly CNG drive. "The 21 Renault Trucks D Wide with 320 hp and double the range that we bought were specially developed for our company and our needs with delivery tours between 400 and 600 km." The Renault models, which are normally equipped with two racks of four gas bottles each, were fitted with two additional racks to increase their maximum range from 400 to 800 km. “The test of the prototypes was successful and we have not had any problems so far,” says Alain Houtch.
In the past four years, the family business has only bought new trucks with CNG drives. 50 of the 200 trucks now run on natural gas. In 2021 the CNG fleet is to be increased to a total of 80 vehicles from various manufacturers . Thibaut Bacquet, QHSE manager responsible for quality, health, safety and the environment at the freight forwarder explains: “Thanks to the CNG trucks, we provide our customers more sustainable transport. With these vehicles we are reducing our CO2 emissions by 15 percent. We will even achieve a reduction of 85 percent if we are supplied from the VOL-V biomass power plant in Fresnoy-Le-Grand from 2022. "
Another advantage for the family business: the CNG vehicles, which emit 35 percent less NOx and 95 percent less particulate matter than diesel trucks, receive a “Crit'Air 1” environmental badge . “We are therefore entitled to deliver goods to Lille or Paris even on days with high pollution levels,” explains Bacquet. “This means security for our customers and gives us the opportunity to set ourselves apart from other freight forwarders commercially. We are probably not the first to switch to CNG and biogas, but we are one of the few who have the ambition to renew their fleet quickly. "
Houtch Transports, can be seen as promoting circular economy. They put one of their customers in the food industry in touch with VOL-V Biomass, the operator of the biomass plants in Fresnoy-Le-Grand. If all goes well, they would transport their customer's waste to the methanation plant and later use the biogas to operate the trucks. Then the cycle is completed. "