Loblaws, Canada’s largest grocery chain has already put down deposits for Tesla Semi trucks, which is on track begin production later this year.
Loblaws has a corporate goal to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% compared to what they generated in 2011. With that goal in mind, they’ve been testing out other electric pre-production options while waiting for the Tesla Semi.
The national grocer carries about 1 million loads per year throughout their network, with about 1/5 of those being less than 100km from a distribution center. Those short range trips make them a perfect candidate for an electric semi, according to Wayne Scott, Sr. Dir. Transport Maintenace at Loblaws.
So far they have been impressed with Freightliner’s Class 8 eCascadia, which is targeting a range of 400km per charge. What has most impressed them is the power of an electric compared to the traditional diesel trucks they operate now, and how quiet they are.
“If you take a look at your traditional diesel engine, when you accelerate you get the torsional twist to the cab, and the turbo noise, and shifting gears. This, it’s just a straight linear acceleration. There’s no twist, there’s no torque, there’s no turbo noise. It’s eerie quiet – the point where you don’t even realize you have a load. You just accelerate through it.””
They still have a number of hurdles to overcome, including operating electric trucks in the frigid parts of Canada during winter, and developing the charging infrastructure to have a fleet of electric semi’s. According to Scott, if Loblaws were to have a fully electric fleet, they would need six times more electricity than they use today, something which can be prohibitively expensive at certain locations due to existing infrastructure and the need to upgrade.
But these hurdles are not insurmountable, and Scott says that we have Tesla CEO Elon Musk to thank for everyone thinking about electrification.
“You’ve got to remember, the only reason we’re doing this is because of one guy: Elon Musk. He has pushed the envelope so hard and so far, that he’s pushed us into doing this.”