Norbert Dentressangle has today (21 May) put the UK’s first 26-tonne GVW hybrid distribution truck into service.

The 26-tonne , 3-axle Renault Hybrys Premium is the first of its type in the UK, and the fourth hybrid to join the Norbert Dentressangle group .

The rear-steer hybrid, developed as part of Renault Truck’s Clean Tech initiative, will run out of Norbert’s specialist services site in Aylesford. It will deliver everything from vending machines to air conditioning equipment and drinks.

It will be assessed as part of a four-year trial, alongside those already underway in France, where two Renault hybrids and a Mercedes are being put through their paces in Lyon and Paris.

“This is totally part of our green agenda,” says Hervé Montjotin, executive vice-president of the Norbert Dentressangle Group. “Trucks are not the problem, but part of the solution [in reducing environmental impact].”

Both partners concede that the vehicle is not yet commercially viable. However, they are confident that as technology improves and the trial data is acted on, cost will be mitigated and hybrids will find a place in UK fleets within five years.

The parallel hybrid system, which means the Euro-5 310hp diesel engine can be used in tandem with the electric motor, is suited for multi-drop work, and incorporates stop-start technology to this end to prevent the diesel idling at traffic lights etc.

Attractions for operators in urban areas using a hybrid, are silent start-up for night time deliveries, an improvement of as much as 20% in fuel consumption compared with a standard diesel-powered truck, and lower emissions.

The complete hybrid system adds 800kg in weight to the Renault.

Veolia Environmental currently runs a Volvo FE 26-tonne refuse vehicle in the UK.