Toll charges ahead with all-electric truck

Toll becomes first Australian company to trial an all-electric truck, which will be used for metropolitan runs in Brisbane

Toll charges ahead with all-electric truck
Toll charges ahead with all-electric truck
By Brad Gardner | September 2, 2013

Toll will begin using Australia’s first all-electric truck tomorrow as part of a trial to see how the vehicle stacks up against its conventional fleet of fuel-powered models.

The 10-tonne Smith Electric rigid, which is called the Newton and can roam for 200km/h on a single six-hour charge, will be put through its paces in and around Brisbane for parcel picks-ups and deliveries for Toll Ipec.

The three-month trial is part of Toll’s Smarter Green environmental strategy and will be monitored to see how it performs in Australian conditions and whether it is cost effective.

Toll Ipec National Fleet and Equipment Manager Anthony Monahan officially launched the latest addition to the company’s fleet today at Toll’s Larapinta depot south of Brisbane.

He says the truck, which can reach speeds of up to 95km/h and has been used for a number of years in the United Kingdom and the United States, will be used on a variety of routes, including highways, to give Toll a solid understanding of what it is capable of.

"This is the only truck here from Smith Electric in Australia that runs purely on electricity and we’re very proud to be given the opportunity to do this today," he says.

The trial was three years in the making, with Toll having to meet a number of requirements, such as vehicle design conditions, before gaining approval to unleash the battery-powered truck on Brisbane’s streets.

Toll’s Environment and Energy General Manager, Nick Prescott, told attendees the company was excited about the trial.

"It adds to a range of other technologies we’re also looking at – compressed natural gas, hybrids, biofuels – and this is another frontier we’re taking on as well," he says.

Patico Automotive, which distributes the Smith truck in the Oceania region, attended the launch and suggested Toll would be happy with what the Newton delivers.

"We are confident that its proven success overseas will be replicated across the varied delivery routes that it will service in the coming weeks and months," Patico Managing Director Tony Fairweather says.

An on-board computer will monitor the truck’s performance in real time, including vehicle speed and braking, battery status and distance travelled, and transmit the information to Smith. The data will then be broken down into reports to give Toll a detailed look at how well the truck is travelling.

Fairweather says the Smith truck costs about double that of a diesel equivalent. However, he adds that the Newton begins to pay itself off after about four years.

Toll Ipec driver Michael Van Kraay will be the man behind the wheel of the rigid for the next three months.

"It’s been great to be given the opportunity," he says.

"It’s got beautiful pick up power for batteries. Very, very good battery power."

Van Kraay also included the almost silent running of the truck – he has to beep the horn to let people and other vehicles nearby aware of his presence – as a bonus.

"The good thing is I do a lot of driver training with the drivers. Sometimes I have to yell because of the truck [noise] level. Having it whisper quiet is a big, big bonus when you’re trying to explain to somebody how things work," he says.

The Newton's first run will be around Murarrie, Morningside and Cannon Hill. Toll even purchased a customised numberplate, ‘ELEC TRK’, to go with the vehicle.

Toll’s Smarter Green initiative was unveiled earlier this year. It sets out the company’s ambition to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions while also cutting its operating costs.

The approach highlights the use of renewable energy sources and new technologies to reduce Toll's emissions by 20 per cent of 2010 levels by 2020.

Smith Electric is headquartered in the United States and has manufacturing sites throughout the country and in the United Kingdom. It lists the likes of PepsiCo, Staples, FedEx and Coca-Cola as companies using its vehicles.

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