Construction vehicle maker JCB has renewed its contract with vehicle carrier Brit European for distribution to JCB dealers in the UK and to ports for overseas shipments.

Central to the five-year contract, said the companies, was an initiative to cut carbon emissions and improve fuel efficiency for the benefit of JCB’s customers. The contract has the option of a two-year extension without recourse to a new tender process subject to the satisfaction of both parties. Both companies are committed to reducing carbon emissions by more than 25% and improve efficiency over the next five years.

To that end, Brit European has invested around £4m ($6.3m) in a new fleet of 36 dual fuel Mercedes tractor units that will display the familiar JCB yellow livery with JCB and Brit European branding. The first vehicles will be operational by March 1st this year with the full fleet set to be in operation by September.

The vehicles will use a combination of diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) to achieve a CO2 saving per mile of more than 15%. This equates to around 60% of Brit European’s overall target on this one initiative.

Brit European is also investing in new trailer equipment and has four dedicated trailers for heavy products. It will increase the fleet size in line with production increases over the next five years as they are required a spokesperson for Brit European told Automotive Logistics.

“The new trailers have aerodynamic improvements to reduce the drag on the rear ramps when empty or back-loading. This obviously reduces fuel burnt and environmental impact,” he added.

The investment is supported by Brit European’s success, along with its consortium partners CNG Services and Microlise, in securing £1m funding from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board following a competition held last year in support of carbon technology deployment in commercial vehicles.

Approximately 60% of the Mercedes fleet will be used primarily on the JCB contract.

“Without the support and drive from JCB, we probably wouldn’t be where we are today on dual fuel,” stated Graham Lackey, Brit European’s managing director. “The understanding that significant investments like these into new technology areas need the support and long-term commitment of customers like JCB is critical. Two and three year deals mean these types of initiatives often get shelved and there are few business’s willing to take this on board. Perhaps it is no surprise JCB is one of the most successful companies in the UK. My team knows that flexibility and the ability to adapt is key to maintaining the relationship with JCB and over the next few years I expect to see many more new innovations and ideas from both sides”.

Further details on Brit European’s operations and on JCB’s outbound logistics will be included in a special focus on innovation published in the forthcoming April-June edition of Finished Vehicle Logistics magazine.