Iceland Foods joins £38m government-funded EV trial
A government-funded trial to help the chilled goods delivery sector increase uptake of electric vehicle technology is now under way.
Electric vans and trucks have so far been unable to make a significant impact in chilled goods delivery fleets due to insufficient range and payload capabilities – powering both the vehicle and the fridge unit either reduces payload due to a bigger battery pack, or reduces range.
A new combination of technologies aims to decouple the power requirements of the fridge unit and the drive train. It is targeting a significant improvement in the range, payload and performance of EVs used for chilled goods logistics.
Iceland Foods will deploy a unique electric delivery vehicle in its fleet for the trial. Paneltex has modified one of its all-electric trucks on a 5.5t Isuzu chassis for the project. The vehicle is fitted with Sunamp’s cold storage technology; and Route Monkey has provided EV optimisation algorithms.
The fourth consortium member, the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP), is involved in dissemination of project results.
The project is part of a £38 million initiative funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.
Sunamp, the project’s lead partner, has effectively inverted its Heat Batteries to create a new cold storage technology that can maintain the required ambient temperature in the vehicle’s cargo area. Sunamp claims the system has a better power to weight ration and is more efficient than using Li-Ion batteries, helping to increase the vehicle’s payload capabilities by reducing the size of the traction battery pack.
The trial builds on Sunamp’s previous research and development, under Innovate UK funding of Heat Batteries, for heating and air conditioning in electric cars and buses, with proven benefits in extending the useful range of these EVs at low cost.
Route Monkey’s EVOS software optimises EV range by calculating factors such as route topography and scheduling deliveries of heavier loads at the beginning of the day. It will also plan the demo vehicle’s deliveries in accordance with Iceland’s two-hour customer time windows.
Route Monkey’s algorithms are ‘self-learning’, meaning they will evolve and further improve their problem-solving abilities, as the trial progresses.
Trakm8’s telematics, meanwhile, will provide real-time data including monitoring the ambient temperature and battery state of charge.
Colin Ferguson, CEO of Route Monkey, said: “Fundamentally, our goal is to make electric vans and trucks a far more attractive option for chilled goods home delivery fleets.”
The project is looking for more fleets to participate in the trials. For further information, click here.