• Climate hub
  • 2 Feb 2022
  • 5 min read

Electric trucks help drive a sustainable future

Transport is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Business owners can play their part in addressing climate change, and add value to their business, by switching their fleet to electric.

By Estelle Sarney

The Fuso eCanter - a 100% electric truck
The Fuso eCanter - a 100% electric truck

It helps to have the right perspective if you’re a business owner wanting to do the right thing with your truck fleet.

Kathy Schluter from Fuso New Zealand says it’s not only what an electric truck can do for your team, but also what you as an early adopter can do for sustainability in New Zealand.

“We encourage clients to view making the switch to electric vehicles as part of their overall sustainability strategy,” says Kathy. “You can dip your toe in the water with the lease of one truck, but starting with a big picture will help you understand the steps you need to take to deliver sustainably for the environment and your business.”

This involves considering how your e-trucks will be charged, where on site that will happen, and installing software that enables you to download data to maximise your fleet’s range and usability.

She encourages business owners to talk through the requirements with importers such as Fuso New Zealand at the outset, so they can be ready to benefit from migrating to electric vehicles.

Genesis' e-truck in action
Genesis' e-truck in action

Fuso imports the eCanter, Fuso’s first series-produced fully electric light truck. Kathy says eCanters are cheaper to run and maintain than diesel equivalents, don’t currently incur road user charges, are clean and quiet, and have advanced safety features that better protect drivers and other road users and pedestrians. Strategically, they can offer businesses a competitive advantage, delivering a zero-emission solution to growing requests from sustainably-minded customers.

“If you can deliver goods with zero-emissions, you are adding significant value to your brand and that of your customer. Consumers feel better about using those products and are more motivated to do so,” says Kathy.

The eCanter has a range of 100km-150km fully charged, so are ideal for urban deliveries. They arrive in New Zealand as a cab and chassis. A business can choose to manage the build itself or assign the job to Fuso or the TR Group leasing team. Genesis had an eCanter built to deliver bottled gas around Auckland, and other eCanter builds heading onto the road include traffic control, tipper, rigid-box, curtain-sider and refrigerated bodies.

Introduction to the eCanter

“Drivers love them – they’re so easy to run, they’re quiet, clean and comfortable,” says Kathy. “Business owners may find eCanters help increase their staff engagement as well as helping their bottom line. There’s a feelgood factor to helping the planet and adding value to your customers.”

Brad Phillips, Genesis’ Fleet Engineering and Reliability Manager, says the company has been assessing the eCanter’s performance by a range of measures.

“It’s providing us with a solid understanding of what’s required to convert our LPG fleet to EVs, and helping us form a number of strategic partnerships in the sector to test emerging technology,” says Brad. “Driver feedback has been very positive.”

Other firms are now approaching Genesis to ask about its experience with the electric truck.

“We’re happy to share what we’ve learned and encourage other companies to see if electric fleets might be right for them,” says Brad.

After a spell in Auckland, the truck was transferred to Christchurch to test its operation in a different environment. Brad says Genesis aims to grow its electric truck fleet over time, and is keeping an eye on EV technology as it evolves to possibly acquire enhanced models as they come online.

Turning trash into sustainable treasure

Seven new recycling trucks run by Waste Management for Hutt City Council are not only electric, they also have names.

Bruce Springclean, Trash Gordon and Trucky McTruckface were among the winning names put forward by locals in a competition run by the council to promote recycling in the community. Others that won the vote were Bin Diesel, Truck Norris, Recyclosaurus Rex, and Chitty Chitty Bin Bin.

"Trucky McTruckface"
"Trucky McTruckface"

Printing the names on the side of the trucks will be the finishing touch in a process that sees diesel vehicles converted to electric at Waste Management’s purpose-built facility in Auckland.

The company started moving its fleet to electric in 2016, and now has 24 electric trucks operating throughout the country, with an additional six trucks due to join the fleet by the end of the year. The company also has 92 electric vehicles in its light vehicle fleet.

Fleet Technical Manager Jitesh Singh says technology enables a dedicated support team to see how each truck is performing in real time, assess data from daily runs and spot issues that can be fixed before they become a problem.

“The guys who oversee the electric fleet are passionate because it’s a new field and they’re learning all the time,” says Jitesh. “The drivers love them because they’re easy to drive, have plenty of power and are smoother and more comfortable than the old diesel models.”

100% electric Waste Management truck
100% electric Waste Management truck

Jitesh says different trucks can be set up to do different jobs by varying the battery size. They’re efficient, with many operating 10-11 hours a day. The company has made significant savings in maintenance and fuel costs.

“The technology is amazing. Once you build a team of people with the right product and support, an electric fleet works really well.”

The company sees itself as not only equipping its workforce with knowledge for jobs of the future, but also, through its EV workshop, creating a knowledge centre for EV conversion. It’s happy to share its experience with other businesses keen to convert their fleets to electric.

“Our experience will help us, and other businesses, contribute to a more sustainable future,” says Jitesh.

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