Industry News

Refrigeration Transition Part Two

In this second instalment looking at the road to zero emission refrigerated transport, in this article, refrigeration transition part two, Revora examines the options available to fleets in the near term, the first stage of the transformation of the fleet.

Refrigerated trucks come in many sizes, require high payloads and do various delivery run types. Runs can be mainly urban, about 100km per shift, moving up to regional and long haul at well over 500km per shift, and beyond to multi-day routes.

Rigid trucks come in various sizes, suited to differing tasks and driving licences. Rigid trucks come in various sizes, suited to differing tasks and driving licences. Electric refrigerated trucking leader Revora has done wide and deep market analysis of all models available and assessed future options.

“All electric vehicles (EVs) on the market in 2024 have an increased tare weight over their diesel counterparts, some more so than others,” says Revora GM Nathan Gore-Brown. “This will narrow over time but it’s important to bear in mind.”

This is a particular concern where there is a GVM ceiling (like 4.5tonne max), a cab chassis, plus body, plus fridge leaves little capacity for a substantial payload. With some trucks on the market you’d be better delivering food out of a caravan fridge in a Tesla from a payload point of view.

Not all typical sizes of refrigerated truck have a suitable electric truck option, at this time. The popular six pallet segment is an example, while some models offer an LR electric chassis they all have GVM of about 7.5tonnes, reducing payload potential, when compared to the 8-8.5tonne diesel standard in the market.

The battery size also needs to be right for the task, in this case around 110kWh is about right. 2024 may see new options in this class but it’s not yet clear.

While there are good products in the eight pallet class, when you look at larger capacity, it gets really difficult. In this segment models can run into front axle mass constraints and GVM/payload limitations.

In the medium and heavy rigid sector, trucks may well use chassis sizes that would typically service a 12 pallet truck, fitted with a 10 pallet body. The chassis will be bigger (taller, wider, higher GVM) than typical to give the payload required. This means the largest in this segment, the 14 pallet truck is unlikely to be an option for some time.

Hydrogen chassis’ being used for concrete mixers and waste might offer larger units but there are still packaging issues with fuel tank location.

A lightweight, high thermal efficiency refrigerated body is imperative to ensure EVs are competitive. For example refrigerated body leaders Eurocold and its partners have optimised bodies and installation methods for its EV solutions offering greater payload and reduced energy use.

Refrigeration adds an extra challenge with access to energy to run the fridge. Typically, we’ve used pulleys from diesel engines or dedicated diesel engines to give us the power to cool our loads, when using electric power alone it takes a lot of kilowatts to run the compressor. On an electric unit, we have a high voltage battery but this can only be used if we can get access to it via an ePTO. Not all models offer this and others can be problematic.

For those developing refrigerated trucks, this is the first hurdle. Fridge OEMs are also coming to grips with the change, and their adaptability will be key to make building the right truck for a refrigerated freight task.

Carrier are leading the way with home grown, and global solutions, while Mitsubishi have used their electric fridge knowledge to gain early market share. This space will evolve rapidly over the coming years with various approaches being trialled.

When choosing an electric truck for your task, the charging solution needs to match. If it’s too slow, it won’t be ready for the next day, too fast and you end up paying too much. A package from Revora/Eurocold should provide an operator with right sized to fit an operation’s need now, one which can evolve over time.

Good zero emissions solutions exist in the three pallet body offering, as seen in the Woolworths home delivery fleet, with Foton T5s providing around 150km of urban delivery capacity, with a fridge.

The Volvo FL offers a platform for an eight pallet truck that will provide the right payload and a little over 200kms of refrigerated deliveries. Revora continues to monitor the marketplace stating, ‘these options will continue to evolve and will see fierce competition over the coming years’.

In the final instalment, in the next issue of PowerTorque, we’ll explore some of the solutions we will see on our roads in the near term.


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