Can you tell us a little about your company?

Created in 2005, SEB Transport is a transport and logistics business based in Strasbourg that has 27 employees and 26 vehicles. We are active mainly in the Alsace region. Over the years, we have developed our network throughout France and we have forged strong, ambitious links with our partners. However, the different changes we are facing today are forcing us to constantly reinvent ourselves. It is important to stay close to our customers, service provides and drivers if we are to implement new strategies in this age of new environmental and energy challenges.

It’s true, transport companies pollute, but the transport industry has become indispensable in our society. That is why we embarked upon an effective energy transition in 2017. Personally, I have always been aware of the environment-related problems. This has led me, in recent years, to want to be a part of this transition by investing in vehicles that run on natural gas.

Why do you work with Heppner? How long have you been working with us? What is your relationship based on?

We have been working with the Heppner Group for the last 4 years, that is, precisely at the time when we began our greening strategy. For a French transport company, implementing an energy transition is a necessary step, even a vital one. We’ve found be very useful for winning new contracts and generating useful sales impacts!

Our relationship with Heppner is very healthy. It is a French, family-owned group that has always looked after its partners and subcontractors. SEB Transport has also benefited from a number of funding strategies put in place by the Group to drive its energy transition and accelerate vehicle greening.

Heppner is also very active on LinkedIn and generates a lot of interest among the Internet community. Recently, I mentioned in a post that I had just expanded my green fleet (NGV trucks) and I was surprised to see how many positive comments this generated!

Are your customers aware of the transport industry’s environmental impact? And on this subject, does your involvement in Heppner’s energy transition project contribute added value to your company? How do you leverage this?

In recent years, we have noticed a higher level of engagement among our customers with the subject of the environmental impact of transport. SEB Transport is an informed, responsible company which has undertaken with its partners since 2017 to offer and provide a maximum number of NGVs.

Thanks to Heppner, we have been able to buy natural gas vehicles. In fact, the Group is committed to supporting its subcontractors and partners. This is real added value for our company, as this financing allows us to evolve toward a real energy transition. On top of that, we are taking part in a collective, responsible, civic initiative.

We are very proud to work with Heppner. For the employees of Heppner’s partner companies, knowing that they are driving less-polluting vehicles is a source of satisfaction and self-esteem. They are better perceived, better supported and better understood by their management and by the French people in general. Our relationship with Heppner has been positive and efficient since the beginning, and this encourages us to continue with our actions and our greening process.

Could you have implemented this transition without Heppner? If you could have, how long would it have taken you?

Yes, but with fewer guarantees! Heppner has a special relationship with its subcontractors. There are a lot of procedures in place, a lot of commitment, a lot of building… There’s a desire to do things well, for the long term. It’s something that is real: some of my colleagues also have dedicated programmes for their subcontractors, but structured differently.

In the case of the public authorities, the situation is more complex: the financial support they give is insufficient and the vehicles cost far too much! The “right” solution doesn’t exist yet but the authorities must accept their responsibilities and propose much more ambitious solutions if they really want to see a major change among transport companies.

For example, why not encourage SMEs to commit by offering funding at regional, local or municipal level? I think that implementing a 100% NGV fleet should entitle to a high level of funding. Transport companies cannot always afford to concentrate their effort on this because there are other, equally important problems that we must address.

Once again, transport companies are finding themselves faced with huge investments but no support or compensatory measures.

Are you affected by low emission zones? Are the new environmental regulations for transport a threat or an opportunity for the industry?

We are affected by the low emission zones, or LEZs. First of all, all these measures should be seen as a long-term environmental opportunity. In order to preserve the environment, it is licit to uphold and accentuate certain procedures, but it all depends on the strategy used! It is impossible to restructure an entire model without enough support. Manufacturers still do not have the capacity to meet a high market demand. And the regulators are not necessarily aware of all the details regarding the cost, financial viability and reality of technology transfer.

Moreover, vehicles need natural gas to run and with the demand about to explode, the available filling stations are struggling to go green. A carrier should not have to drive further to get fuel!

The LEZs are a reflection of the national desire to adopt more responsible forms of transport, but how can we do our job properly if 1) we can no longer drive in certain urban areas and 2) we cannot fuel ourselves with natural gas? SEB Transport would be delighted to travel to Mars with green vehicles, but how and at what cost?