The 'Zeroed' Isuzu truck, which has a range of up to 80 miles before it needs to be recharged, is powered by a 95 kWh lithium iron phosphate battery pack, said group transport manager Mark Sutcliffe. “The motor system is around twice as energy efficient as an equivalent diesel engine."
Zeroed is a joint initiative developed by commercial builder Paneltex and fleet management firm VMS Global.
AG Barr: road testing
While the multiple retailers had started to use electric vehicles for some online deliveries, they are not widely used by food manufacturers, although soft drinks maker AG Barr has been road testing a 10t electric Smith Newton truck operating out of its Walthamstow depot in London.
“Whilst we are pleased with its performance we will need to road test it for a further 12-18 months in order to understand the full performance benefits of this type of delivery vehicle before we are able to commit to any further purchases”, the firm told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
Active transport management system
The big concern for any fleet manager was that electric vehicles would run out of juice before they could recharge, said Isotrak, which has developed an active transport management system to help tackle this issue.
The system provides an automated remote battery monitoring capability that sends alerts to drivers and managers to help them manage routes more effectively taking into account the range of the vehicle and the location of charge points. It also enables fleet operators to see the status of each electric vehicle in the fleet (which are ‘on charge’, which are ‘not charging’, plus the charge level of each truck).
Sales and marketing director Craig Sears-Black said: “12t electric trucks can run for up to 150 miles, but there are lots of variables, and in the worst case scenario, the range could be far less. As a result, there has been a lot of interest from firms making short deliveries in urban areas, but for food manufacturers on longer trunking routes, they are not really being adopted yet.”
However, this would change in time as battery technology improved, he said. “The technology is improving all the time, but in future, hydrogen fuel cells could overtake batteries.”