UK – Unilever, one of ten founding members of the EV100 initiative, which brings together companies committed to switching to electric vehicles by 2030, is piloting a new heavy-duty truck that is powered purely by renewable electricity.

Unilever has added one of the world’s first heavy-duty electric trucks to its fleet, marking an important milestone in a move towards zero-emission vehicles.

The British multinational company has a logistics sustainability strategy that has two key objectives, which the company believes will help cut greenhouse gas emissions from its logistics network by 40–50% by 2030.

One of the strategies is reducing the distances needed to drive in the distribution while the other is ‘greening’ the miles, which the company said it can’t avoid driving – and that’s where the new truck will be a game-changer.

The 44-tonne Volvo truck, which will run entirely on renewable power, is the first heavy-duty electric vehicle with sufficient range to meet the business need of transporting goods from its distribution centers to retail customers – and the first such vehicle to hit the road in the Netherlands, Unilever said.

The truck has a 540-kWh battery capacity, which is equal to more than seven average electric passenger cars, and it can travel up to 185 miles on a single charge.

The company noted that the zero-emission vehicle could reduce up to 100 tonnes of carbon per year compared to a regular diesel truck.

Other than being a far less polluting truck, the electric vehicle is also much quieter than a diesel-powered vehicle – good for the environment and drivers’ working conditions.

This milestone in sustainability by Unilever is strengthened by The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative, which is a new collaborative group comprising companies that aim to phase out the heaviest and most polluting vehicles on the roads.

Together with IKEA, JSW Steel, Maersk, and DPD, Unilever has committed to transitioning a fleet of vehicles over 7.5 tonnes (known as medium- and heavy-duty vehicles or MHDVs) to zero emissions vehicles by 2040 across 38 OECD markets as well as China and India.

The London- based company said the EV100+ members will also help to send a clear signal to vehicle manufacturers and policy-makers that business demand for zero emissions MHDVs is growing fast.

In 2021, the company also started a nine-month pilot in the Netherlands to test a breakthrough innovation in temperature-controlled transport, replacing diesel refrigeration in four trailers with zero-emission battery-electric prototypes.

At the time, the company the piloted system – which keeps freight chilled at temperatures down to -25°C – will be tested to run entirely on renewable electricity and if successful could save up to 25 tonnes of CO2 per trailer annually, with air quality benefits for each vehicle equivalent to taking 70 passenger cars off the road for a year.

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