• Customer case

Change through bio-LNG: Gartner KG’s candid view of the challenges and successes brought about by the alternative fuel from Rolande

Discover the inspirational success story of Gartner KG, a pioneer in sustainable transport in the logistics industry. The family business has been using 100 per cent bio-LNG from Rolande since the beginning of 2023, saving an impressive 780 tonnes of CO2 each year. Gartner KG is setting an example for a greener future in logistics—inspiring and leading the way for the entire industry.

Read the interview with Lars Kück (LK), Business Development Germany at Gartner KG, to find out all about:

Gartner’s decision to opt for bio-LNG to drastically reduce CO2 emissions:

The decision to use LNG, and later bio-LNG, was made because Gartner KG wanted to minimise its own CO2 emissions. Find out why and how the company is using 10 LNG mega trucks to increase transport volumes while using the same amount of fuel and switched to the bio version of this alternative fuel in the spring of 2023 to further boost its commitment to sustainability.

Converting sections of the truck fleet to LNG or bio-LNG—when did Gartner KG decide to do this and on what grounds?

LK: The first step for us was to look at what alternative fuels  were available that would allow us to significantly reduce our CO2 emissions and whether we could compete in the marketplace using them.

Initially, LNG was the only really viable alternative to diesel for us. For one thing, although you can buy an electric truck, range will always a problem for you in the winter months.

HVO, or hydrotreated vegetable oil, another low-CO2 alternative, was not approved in Germany at the time. And the legislation for this is not due to come into force until 2024. 

So, we decided to buy LNG trucks in 2021. We now have 10 units. We ordered these trucks as mega tractors in combination with the type 1 Euro long semi-trailer. This was partly to reduce CO2 emissions compared with diesel vehicles and partly to be able to transport more volume without using more fuel thanks to LNG.

We initially switched to bio-LNG, in our case 100 per cent bio-LNG from Rolande, in the spring of 2023. We wanted to become even more sustainable and also offer our main customer, a well-known Swedish furniture group, another alternative to diesel.

What were some of the challenges or concerns that Gartner had before making the switch to LNG or bio-LNG?

LK: The “biggest” challenge, if you want to call it that, was familiarising the drivers with how the new refuelling process works. Other than that, we didn’t have any other challenges or concerns.

The switch from LNG to bio-LNG and its advantages:

Switching to the bio-version of LNG has brought Gartner KG not only more environmental benefits, but also greater fuel efficiency. Find out how the company is delivering climate-neutral transport services despite the financial challenges and how it is achieving positive marketing effects.

What advantages has Gartner seen from switching from LNG to Bio-LNG?

LK: The greatest impact of our using bio-LNG is in the significant reduction in our CO2 emissions, i.e. the improvement in the carbon footprint we leave behind.

We used a CO2 calculator to work out in advance how much CO2 we would save by running a truck on bio-LNG alone, compared to a diesel truck: it was about 90 per cent!

Of course, this also has a certain marketing effect, which can also be an advantage.

Can you quantify the environmental impact of converting your fleet to bio-LNG?

LK: We do measure it, yes, not least to demonstrate the effect to our customers. Based on the mileage of our vehicles, we save around 78 tonnes of CO2 a year with a truck that runs on bio-LNG compared to a model fitted with a diesel engine.

LK: We do measure it, yes, not least to demonstrate the effect to our customers. Based on the mileage of our vehicles, we save around 78 tonnes of CO2 a year with a truck that runs on bio-LNG compared to a model fitted with a diesel engine.

Ten of our 10 vehicles running on bio-LNG are on the road for one of our biggest customers—a Swedish furniture store chain. This means that for them alone we have saved 780 tonnes of CO2 this year. It also means that the journeys we make in their supply chain are climate neutral.

To clarify: one tonne of CO2 emissions corresponds to about eight months of electricity consumption (electrical energy of unknown origin) by an average household. Theoretically, 780 tonnes of CO2 are equivalent to the electricity consumed by an average household over 500 years.

How has the productivity of your fleet changed since you switched to bio-LNG?

LK: Bio-LNG is more expensive than diesel, but it is also more efficient. And although our LNG vehicles have slightly longer servicing intervals than diesel trucks, this is not a major issue.

How has the switch to bio-LNG affected the image of Gartner KG?

LK: At Gartner KG, we already had a certain level of sustainability and environmental protection that we wanted to achieve. The use of bio-LNG has not only helped us to achieve these goals, but to exceed them. We are not just doing this to boost our image, but primarily because we share the same ambition to use resources wisely and sparingly. We have also found that our customers like what we are doing and want to benefit from it. This provides a fertile ground for working together as partners.

The drawbacks and financial challenges of using bio-LNG:

In this part of the interview, we discuss the drawbacks and financial challenges, such as higher acquisition costs and increased tolls, in open, honest and frank terms.

What drawbacks has Gartner identified in using of LNG fuelled vehicles and bio-LNG?

Another downside is the cost of tolls: the toll for diesel trucks has almost doubled since 1 December 2023. In Germany, toll costs have now risen by more than 80 per cent.

The situation is even more drastic for bio-LNG-fuelled trucks because, for the first time, they have to pay tolls. Until recently, this type of vehicle was exempt from tolls in Germany. The third drawback is that the price of bio-LNG is now, at the end of 2023, higher than that of diesel. So, the disadvantages are mainly monetary.

What’s more, many customers in the logistics sector like to talk about ‘green’ transport but are not prepared to pay for it. This makes it difficult. Customers who want their carrier to be ‘as green as possible’ need to realise that the price tag for transport using bio-LNG is different from that of transport using diesel.

Are there any drawbacks to refuelling with LNG and Bio-LNG?

LK: No, the network of filling stations for alternative fuels in Germany is large enough. You are sure to find LNG and bio-LNG filling stations from Rolande or one of its partner stations  in your area. For drivers, this means a small change because refuelling an LNG truck is different from refuelling a diesel truck. Drivers now need less protective equipment; refuelling takes a little longer and drivers need some initial training.

Gartner’s recommendation and future outlook for bio-LNG:

Gartner KG recommends that other companies, especially those with larger fleets, consider bio-LNG as an alternative fuel. Read on to find out why that is the case and why the company itself is planning a hybrid fleet of LNG, diesel and electric vehicles.

What plans does Gartner have for the use of bio-LNG?

LK: The higher cost of purchasing LNG tractors, combined with higher prices for bio-LNG and the fact that reduced tolls for these vehicles are now a thing of the past, make it difficult for us to see any point in them at present.

Saving CO2 is one thing, the financial impact is another: We are, of course, in competition with our competitors. Expanding our fleet to include bio-LNG therefore makes little sense for us currently. The situation would be different if prices for this type of fuel were to fall again and toll reductions or zero tolls were to be introduced for bio-LNG vehicles.

If HVO is approved as a low CO2 fuel soon, it could be used to fill a conventional diesel truck without the need to modify the engine technology. This would make more financial sense.

In addition, electric vehicles continue to evolve, have longer ranges, better batteries and, at present, no road tolls. This is why we will be investing in electric trucks in the foreseeable future.

A hybrid fleet of LNG, diesel and electric vehicles gives us the freedom to see how alternative fuels develop and what makes the most financial sense for us.

So why do you continue to recommend that other companies switch to bio-LNG?

LK: What I would say to carriers who are already using LNG is: consider bio-LNG! You can refuel everywhere and it saves 90 per cent of CO2, that’s a fact.

When it comes to HVO as an alternative from 2024, some hauliers may find it difficult to source HVO or may prefer to use gas. Bio-LNG is definitely an alternative for them as well.

My general view is that only somewhat larger companies, with around 50 or more tractor units, should consider switching to LNG or bio-LNG even if it’s just one or two trucks.

The partnership with Rolande:

The contract with Rolande for 100% bio-LNG until the end of 2025 underlines the strategic partnership between the two companies. Gartner KG is convinced by the professional and flexible cooperation, especially with regard to professionalism, pricing and availability of the fuel.

What type of contract does Gartner KG have with Rolande?

LK: We have signed a contract with Rolande in Germany for 100% bio-LNG. The contract covers a minimum purchase volume at a fixed price and runs until 31 December 2025.

Why did Gartner choose Rolande over another bio-LNG supplier?

LK: One reason was the price . The other was that we found Rolande’s approach fuel to be very professional during the discussions and contract negotiations as well as when it came to the availability of the alternative. That convinced us.

To what extent does the ready availability of bio-LNG from Rolande have an impact on business processes and supply chains?

LK: It means that our processes and those of our customers can continue reliably and without restriction at all times.

How does Gartner feel about working with Rolande?

LK: The partnership has been excellent—professional and flexible at all times. We would describe Rolande as a true strategic partner. There were no problems. Everything we discussed was implemented on a one-on-one basis.