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It’s electric: A look at the eFreight 2030 trial

Published to the CV Show website on
27/06/2024

A new project has begun that will carry out a real-world evaluation of the technical and commercial viability of electric trucks, and prove the business case for eHGVs

The £63 million eFreight 2030 trial includes a consortium of fleet operators, electric charging experts, truck manufacturers and software experts that have come together with the aim of decarbonising the road freight transport sector in the coming months and years.

Operators – including Welch’s Transport, Expect Distribution, Kuehne and Nagel, Maritime Transport, Menzies Distribution, Wincanton and Marks and Spencer – have committed to introducing a total of 100 electric 4×2 and 6×2 tractor units from DAF, Renault Trucks and Scania.

Part of the UK Government’s Zero Emission HGV and Infrastructure Demonstrator Programme, funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) in partnership with Innovate UK, the project will also develop a network of 32 publicly accessible 1MW eHGV charging hubs across the country with megawatt charging capacity.

Sir Vince Cable, Chairman of the eFreight 2030 consortium and former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: “Each member has a longstanding history and experience in transport and logistics and is contributing significantly to the consortium’s shared vision to demonstrate how eHGVs can replace conventional HGVs at scale using British technology.”

Charge point manufacturer and project lead Voltempo Group has developed its Hypercharger Pod that will be used by operators to charge trucks at depots, major ports and major road routes.

Each charge hub will provide at least six charge bays and 1MW of power, with charging hub owner and operator Fleete Group also involved.

The project aims to reduce the grid connection time for hub infrastructure to between three and six months, down from the current nine to 12-month lead in times.

Michael Boxwell, Group CEO, Voltempo Group said: “The eFreight 2030 project has never been about simply the needs of the consortium members. When it comes to success, there has always been a focus on revolutionising the industry for all involved.

“It’s for this reason that data modelling and testing, not only within the 100 electric HGVs, but from the more than 16,000 trucks operated by our consortium members, is a key part of understanding their use and where electric vehicles can play the most significant role.

“This project will help raise the profile of sustainable freight, demonstrating how routes can be more effectively planned, drivers can be kept more local to their homes, and environmental benefits can be achieved by all.”

Earlier this year, as part of the project, Maritime Transport, the provider of integrated road and rail freight logistics, placed an order for 18 battery-electric, 42-tonne tractor units, supplied by Scania, Renault Trucks, and DAF.

This will be the first consignment of 48 battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell trucks to be purchased and deployed across its network.

The new 4×2 trucks are fully equipped with the latest vehicle technology and capable of delivering a range from 300km up to 500km, allowing them to serve critical functions across Maritime’s eight strategic rail freight terminals and to and from major UK ports.

Introducing these trucks is a core component of Maritime’s environmental plan, moving more containerised and domestic product by rail with battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell trucks at the helm of first and final mile deliveries, reducing emissions and removing more vehicles from the UK’s congested road network.

The trucks are planned to arrive from late 2024 and into early 2025.

Electric charging stations will also be installed across the firm’s network comprising 41 transport depots, rail terminals, and dedicated container storage sites.

Tom Williams, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Maritime Transport: “Acknowledging the variations in range and payload, we believe these vehicles will substantially contribute to our efforts in providing sustainable and efficient services to our customers, complementing our growing network of rail freight services and terminals.’

Chris Newitt, Managing Director, Scania UK added: “Through these first vehicles, we will be able to learn so much about operating and using these vehicles day-to-day.

“The next step will be how can we use that knowledge to influence long-term decision making for the best interests of our industries.”

In addition to the consortium fleets, eFreight 2030 has reserved a selection of vehicles for shorter term use by associate members of the consortium.

This, it says, will enable smaller operators to evaluate the capabilities of electric trucks on a short-term basis along with appropriate interim charging solutions, derisking confidence building activities before making decisions about permanent fleet replacement.

The Berkeley Bulldog e-trailer will also be part of the demonstration, showcasing its ability to add a further 300km to the range of a vehicle, without compromising the load capacity of the trailer, and with a charge time of below 30 minutes.

Dynamon is providing the software which will allow all other partners to put the right components in place over the next 18 months before the on-the-road trials begin, including installing chargepoints in the correct place, choosing the right tractors and trailers, planning routes and identifying suitable work schedules.

A key aspect will be to focus on demanding use cases, including long-range, multi-shift and power take-off, using Dynamon’s Zero software modelling to match the developing technologies to the operational challenges

Angus Webb, CEO of Dynamon, said: “This isn’t about giving electric HGVs easy routes and light schedules for demonstration purposes, it is about stress testing them in hard working environments in which they will have to deliver results.

“The trial will prove what happens when you max out e-HGVs on a daily basis.

“Our software can help our partners to plan exactly every element so they can push these trucks as hard as possible, and prove that when the correct strategy and support is in place, electric can work cost-effectively.”

The consortium should provide a platform to enable organisations to share knowledge, best practices, and learnings to support the freight sector on its path to Net Zero.

In addition it will provide vital insights for the government’s long-term infrastructure decisions to make road freight more sustainable.

 

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