"A new step in turning our vehicle fleet 'green'."
Cebeo is taking a new step in its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. Having made a start in May, with bike couriers delivering to their customers in Brussels, the company will now conduct a two-week trial of an electric Volvo truck in Kortrijk, as an alternative to diesel trucks.
"We are at a watershed moment," says Wim Pyra, Transport Manager at Cebeo. He continued, "And we are going to use this as a learning exercise, to allow us to put a realistic proposal on the table."
Everyone, and industry, in particular, will need to play their part if we are going to achieve drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Transport and logistics businesses are increasingly opting for cleaner and more environmentally friendly vehicles. However, fossil-free, heavy transport is not yet widely available. Cebeo, the market leader in the distribution of electrical equipment in Belgium, wants to play a pioneering role here and is making a start by piloting an electric truck for the first time.
Wim explains, "There’s no doubt about the environmental advantages of using electric trucks. They are totally emission-free out on the road and are also quiet. However, it is their operating range that still needs work. But, together with Volvo, we carried out an analysis of our transport schedules, and they assured us that this will not present a problem. So, we've decided to carry out a test to help us decide on updating our fleet."
Full electrification will take time
The vehicle to be trialed over the coming fortnight is the Volvo FE Electric, a twin axle truck with a load capacity of 8500 kg and a range of up to 200 kilometers. "Its compact dimensions also make it an ideal vehicle for door-to-door deliveries in an urban environment. We have been using a fleet of 49 diesel vehicles for this work, but they each emit some 20 tons of CO2 a year. By introducing one or more electric vehicles we can immediately achieve a significant reduction in emissions," states Fabrice Naert, Fleet Coordinator at Cebeo.
Transport companies looking to switch to electric vehicles will have other matters to consider apart from the operational range. Fabrice continued, "Our drivers will need to learn new ways of driving, as their driving style will have an impact on the energy consumption and service life of the battery. An instructor will therefore be accompanying our drivers, providing guidance during the weeks of the test. We also need to investigate the charging time for a vehicle like this and identify how many extra charging stations will be required at our Kortrijk site. And of course, that will require additional investments."
A center of expertise to drive sustainability
However, none of these challenges will hold Cebeo back as it seeks to take on a pioneering role in the area of sustainability. This latest initiative fits perfectly with the company's broader vision of sustainability. “Reducing our environmental impact is a hot topic for our Competence Center Transport Europe within the Sonepar Group. This is where we share expertise, examine what other vehicle manufacturers have to offer, and research the potential of new technologies, such as hydrogen-powered vehicles. Our ambition is clear. We want to act as an example to our sector and be among the first players to deliver goods to customers in a climate-neutral manner, from the first kilometer to the last," Wim concluded.