Here’s some crunchy news for you. Usually when we hear about a chip-maker adapting the latest technology, we think of Intel, Motorola or AMD. But snack chip manufacturer Frito-Lay announced last week that they will be rolling out their first five all-electric delivery trucks in NYC, setting the stage for sixteen additional trucks this year and 150 more next year, making it the largest commercial electric truck fleet in North America.
The company expects the trucks, manufactured by Smith Electric Vehicles to reduce annual fuel consumption by 500,000 gallons annually, which, they claim will produce 75% less CO2 emissions than conventional diesel trucks. That would, of course, depend on a number of factors, including how the electricity used to charge the vehicle batteries is produced. If charged using non-fossil fuel energy sources, that number could potentially be even higher. The trucks themselves emit zero tailpipe emissions. They can run up to 100 miles on a charge, making them well-suited for a dense urban environment. They are also substantially quieter than conventional trucks.
According to Mike O’Connell, director of fleet capability for Frito Lay North America, “Frito-Lay has implemented bold goals for reducing our use of key resources such as fuel to ultimately help us reduce our overall environmental impact. There are real economic and environmental benefits to electric trucks.”
In addition to NYC, the company will also deploy electric trucks in Ft. Worth, TX and Columbus, OH. The company already has six electric trucks operating in Canada. The initial NYC rollout was funded through a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
Frito-Lay North America is the $13 billion convenience foods business unit of PepsiCo. The company opened a LEED Gold certified distribution center in Rochester, NY in 2005.
Meanwhile, Smith Electric received $32 million in DOE funding back in March. In addition to Frito-Lay, they are also currently filling orders for Coca-Cola and AT&T.
Smith has been involved in the development of the electric Ford Transit Connect van, which was shown in February at the Chicago Auto Show. Enova Systems Inc. and Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. are also planning to introduce their all-electric delivery vehicles this year.
Meanwhile, hybrid truck sales are expected to reach 4850 by the end of this year, with Coca-Cola being one of the heavy subscribers.
This is all good news since, according to Scott Harrison, CEO of hybrid truck-maker Azure Dynamics, commercial trucks account for about 12 percent of miles driven but produce about 25 percent of all emissions.
RP Siegel is co-author of the popular eco-thriller Vapor Trails
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