April 28, 2020. In response to the crisis, Gaz réseau distribution France (GRDF) invites the French government to adopt new measures to support the carriers and the gaseous fuel industry.
The road transport sector is at its worst. According to a survey carried out in March by the National Federation of Road Transport (FNTR), 30% of companies have experienced a total stop and 56% a partial loss of activity. Almost a quarter of companies (21%) lost more than 75% of sales.
The general slowdown in activity has led to a sharp drop in the price of oil. As a result, the value of diesel has never been lower, which tends to make natural gas for vehicles (NGV) economically less advantageous for use.
“We are in the process of doing new total cost of ownership calculations. Based on the analyzes presented to us, the price of oil will remain low for a time. Without support, NGV will be greatly affected,” says Caroline Maleplate, NGV delegate at GRDF.
Although the government has launched 390 million euros in measures in favor of road transport, GRDF calls for the gas vehicle sector not to be overlooked. “Carriers must be helped to switch to natural gas. The only existing state aid, over amortization, will be useless against companies in a deficit situation,” warns the GRDF representative.
To support the sector and continue to mitigate the additional acquisition cost compared to diesel, GRDF asks the government to temporarily establish a tax credit.
“NGV is the possibility of successfully completing the energy transition at a lower cost while promoting a French and European sector,” recalls Maleplate. According to GRDF, 96% of the gas heavy vehicles that were sold in Europe in 2019 come from European manufacturers. At Iveco, gas engines are produced at the French Bourbon-Lancy factory, which employs 1,400 people.
For its part, GRDF also plans to launch its own national device with an original approach: to improve the value of the sector. “Today, one bus in 7 in France uses natural gas and nobody has the slightest idea,” explains the executive. Varying from 1,500 to 3,000 euros per unit, the device will be aimed at heavy vehicles, vans and coaches. In order to allow NGV to gain notoriety, this help will consist of buying a number of vehicles. A dedicated website will be launched soon to introduce the device.
In the service station area, suspending work on future facilities will cause significant delays. “In 2020, we hope to connect almost half of the stations than last year, given the delays being taken,” said Caroline Maleplate. “We see a sharp drop, but a delay that is likely to recover in the first quarter of 2021,” she says.