Friday, December 7, 2018

Could Norwegian milk trucks point to the best next step in vehicle electrification?

Photo: Semcon
Don’t get me wrong. As much as any car enthusiast, I love the explosiveness, sound, and feel of raw power under the hood that you get from a strong internal combustion engine. And on a certain level, it’s hard to imagine the idea of a motoring life without those dynamics.

But I also think that the benefits of electric powertrains, like the power of immediate torque at the wheels and the downforce benefits of a chassis-length, bottom-mounted battery—even if we leave aside for the moment any remaining debate about the net economic and environmental impacts— cannot be dismissed.

And as 2018 draws to a close, we’re also concluding a year in which, possibly more than ever, electric vehicles have proven their cred as being “not just for tree huggers.” This year we have witnessed developments like a Volkswagen electric race car shattering the all-time record in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the debut of Nissan’s impressive new NISMO LEAF RC electric race car, and the possibility that Tesla has turned the corner in their business and production struggle—enough to now try to claim that they are the highest-selling luxury automaker in the U.S.

Realities like these are why, as much as my love affair with the internal combustion engine continues, I’m not especially uncomfortable with my prediction that most of us who are driving now will probably own or operate some form of electric vehicle in the not-too-distant future. It could take 10 or even 20 years, unless the industry and governments force the issue. But sooner or later, I think it will happen.

All that said, perhaps the best next step in the process is being overlooked—a step that, potentially, could both produce tangible benefits and help the public get more adjusted to the idea of electric vehicles as a mainstream presence: electrifying as much as possible of the portion of the commercial vehicle and industrial equipment fleets that currently run on fossil fuels.

According to the EPA, nearly one fourth of greenhouse gas emissions come from medium-and-heavy-duty trucks. That’s a big chunk, and a recent example from Norway just might, if perhaps in a small way, be a good model for how to reduce that number.

A company called Semcon announced today that they are supplying a battery-operated motor that can power pumps that fill tanker trucks with milk at dairy farms across Norway. According to Semcon, the electric pumps will reduce diesel consumption by up to 5,000 liters per year for each tanker, while also reducing noise and emissions at the farms.

"One of the strengths of the Semcon solution is that dairies do not need to buy new trucks—the new technology can be implemented in vehicles they already have," says Hans Peter Havdal, head of division at Semcon.

Tine, a Norwegian company responsible for most transportation of milk in Norway, is planning to install the new pumps in all 250 of its vehicles.

"We will reduce our diesel consumption by 1.25 million litres per year when all our milk pumps in Norway run on electricity. This means that CO2 emissions will be reduced by 3,200 tonnes a year. This investment in our climate will pay off financially as well. Our costs will be reduced by several million kroner," says Frode Eggan at Norwegian dairy Tine.

If that reduction in emissions can be achieved by one dairy, imagine the impact of total electrification of a substantial portion of the heavy truck and equipment stock in the U.S.

Look at it this way: the benefits might leave more breathing room for those of us in the enthusiast carry our internal-combustion habits further into the future.

1 comment:

  1. I guess, it needs more battery storage capacity for vehicle truck. This truck delivers a heavy cargo goods that consumes a lot of fuel, it will same to electric truck.

    We hoped that an electric truck should have a big battery storage.