Automotive fleets: Isn’t managing both vehicle purchases and their availability in the Malherbe group’s fleet not complex?
Yannick Duval: On the contrary, it’s an advantage to be Director of Operations and Purchasing. Malherbe is a transport group which has accumulated 1,200 motor vehicles and 3,500 gray cards and whose activities lead it to only keep them for 24 to 36 months. Being both Director of Operations and Purchasing gives me an operational eye on the entire fleet. I am thus the behavior of the vehicle in use, I know its performance and its costs. It is then easier for me to meet the needs of agencies and drivers by buying the vehicles that suit them.
Who are Malherbe’s suppliers and do you encounter supply difficulties?
We currently choose our vehicles from three main suppliers. Number one is Volvo Trucks, number two is DAF, and number three is Mercedes-Benz. We also have Renault Trucks and Iveco running on natural gas for vehicles (GNV). Since 80% of Malherbe’s activity involves transporting dry, fresh or frozen agri-food freight in semi-trailers, our vehicles are tractors with no special configuration. We therefore did not have any problem with renewing the fleet in 2022. It is in 2023 that we could experience any problems if the delivery delays persist.
How many trucks do you have running on gas and how do you manage the increase in the price of CNG?
We have 70 CNG vehicles, 30 of which run on LNG and 40 on CNG. This choice is explained by the compressed or liquefied nature of the gas supplied by the gas supply stations in our areas of activity. The majority are Iveco tractors, but we also acquire Volvos and Scanias. We have compensated for the rise in the price of NGV by reviewing our transport plans to transfer our gas-powered vehicles to stations where NGV was at isocost with diesel.
Do you plan to use electric trucks?
We are on standby on refrigerated electric tractors to carry out tests as soon as possible as part of Fret 21’s ROAD (refrigerated optimized advanced design) project, in which we are participating with the bodybuilder Chéreau and the refrigeration specialist Carrier. The objective is to produce an aerodynamic vehicle, with a lightened chassis and capable of producing its own energy. We are also collaborating on the H2 Haul project which aims to design a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle and the supply network it requires. We are also studying hybrid vehicles that offer a transition solution for ZFE-m, as well as the possibility of running on B100. Everything is possible depending on the cost, the technique and the requests of our shippers, provided that they participate financially in the energy transition.