An 18 month trial of a 16 tonne GVM electric truck in France has proven the effectiveness of electric trucks, but also highlighted the downside of the technology. The trial took place in Lyon, France with a Renault Midlum refrigerated truck handled deliveries around the city for supermarket giant Carrefour.
The project was funded by the French Government’s environmental agency, ADEME, as proof of concept for electric trucks. The project took two stages, the first a six month small scale trial followed by a 12 month trial in 2013 when the truck worked as part of the STEF fleet delivering to Carrefour stores around Lyon.
During the 18 month trial the truck covered just 16,000 km, but measurements estimated an 86 per cent drop in carbon emissions compared to a normal diesel truck. On average the truck consumed 0.95 kWh per km travelled, including the power required to run the fridge motor. The truck has been designed to recoup energy when decelerating, recharging the batteries. It is estimated 25 per cent of all of the energy used by the truck in operation came from deceleration.
The quiet running of the truck’s electric power unit meant the truck was allowed to deliver in certain residential areas before 7 am, something diesel trucks are banned from doing. According to the operator, the silent truck was received well by local residents and improved the transport company’s image with the community.
Driver acceptance was high, with the truck matching the performance of its diesel counterparts while working in relative silence. However, STEF also said the limited range, in this case just 100 km, was an issue for their operation.
Recharging time for the batteries was eight hours and the electric motor which powered the truck put out 103 kW. The truck used two lithium-ion battery packs with a total energy of 170 kWh and a total battery weight of two tonnes resulting in a payload of only 5.5 tonnes.
These final figures show the drawbacks for this technology. Yes, it works, but a limited range and severely curtailed payload tells us this technology has a long way to go. Trucking will have to wait for another quantum leap in battery technology to give us light battery packs which charge quickly.