URBASER is a company from the ACS Group. It is dedicated to provide all kind of environmental services. It is divided into two major areas: urban services and street cleaning. “We have a fleet of 110 electric vehicles in Catalonia, and 116 compressed natural gas vehicles, 74 in Barcelona,” said Santiago Losada, Head of Operational Control.
When were the electric vehicle (EV) and the compressed natural gas (CNG) incorporated in URBASER? Which were the main challenges at the beginning of the transformation of the fleet found?
The first electric vehicle dates from 1999; it was a very new technology and helped us to know this technology and the implementation of it. The first major implementation of the service was in Barcelona in 2009, with more than 50 vehicles. CNG vehicles were put into service in 2000 and have been running successfully until 2009. In 2009 we created a laboratory of electric vehicle to suit the needs of the services and to train highly qualified personnel for management and maintenance. With the installation of a smart charging station, we got to know more about the technology and ensure quality of service parameters set. With natural gas vehicles, the main thing was to establish the needs recharging and its commitments to the facility the well sized and to guarantee the quality and the needs of vehicles.
What is the management of recharging these vehicles? Have you had to adapt internal procedures or routes to use these technologies?
For smart EVs installation is completely monitored and easy to manage. To know at all times the load of the vehicles, to care about batteries autonomy and about any issues that may arise during the loading process. For natural gas vehicles, it will be performed similarly but with greater assurance.
The local and urban environmental benefits are well known, but has it been possible to study if there are economic benefits compared to the internal combustion fleet?
The elimination of polluting emissions in the case of power and the decrease of these emissions in the case of natural gas vehicles make these technologies improve the quality of life in the cities.
The economic benefits, for natural gas vehicles are the reduction in the fuel cost. The need for an installation of compression; load points and, the extra cost in buying vehicles make all this investment reaches offset contracts with durations of about 8 years.
In the case of EV under 2 tons, the extra cost of buying offset comes to cost reduction in consumption, good training in efficient driving, a fully programmable recharge, etc.
In which projects are you working in URBASER now?
As vision we are working on improving electric technology through laboratory.Our most recent project has been the installation of a photovoltaic plant whose generation is stored in batteries for electric vehicles coming and no longer has the capacity to ensure the autonomy of services. Avoid residues and give a second life to a battery is a breakthrough. The energy stored in these batteries is used to recharge electric vehicles and power of our ship.
As owner and operator of the fleet, which perspectives provides of this type of technology in short-medium term? What advice would suggest for anyone who wants to make a change to the EV technology or CNG?
The technology of CNG vehicles is more developed and it will be implemented in captive fleets of urban services, distribution of goods, etc. Public infrastructure will make that more users join the use of these fuels and brokers provided by the European Commission.
The most widely used in electric vehicles is in urban services companies through its public concessions, and it is expected that future development ever is greater. I would advise to those who want to make this change in technology, to perform an in-depth analysis of your needs. In any fleet of city services is feasible to implement these technologies.