Tesco trials electric HGVs as part of net zero ambition

Tesco is trialling the use of electric HGVs in its Welsh supply chain to test their commercial viability.

Under the scheme, which started this month, two electric HGVs manufactured by DAF will carry predominantly non-chilled food and clothing between the Wentloog rail terminal in Cardiff and Tesco’s distribution centre in Magor.

The project involves a partnership with Freight Systems Express Wales (FSEW), which has installed charging stations at its south Wales site, providing 100 miles worth of power for the 30-mile journey between Cardiff and the DC.

The two lorries will replace around 65,000 diesel-fuelled road miles per year, removing 87.4 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e).

Despite making up only 5% of vehicle miles, HGVs contribute 16% to transport emissions in the UK, according to the Department for Transport. 

Tesco aims to become net zero by 2035 while FSEW intends to replace more than 40 diesel vehicles with low-carbon alternatives and switch to fleet-wide zero-emissions by 2025.

Jason Tarry, Tesco UK and ROI CEO, said: “Tesco’s distribution network is one of the largest in the UK and plays an important role in our efforts to become net zero in our own operations by 2035. We’ve already made progress by starting our switch to electric home delivery vans and rolling out electric vehicles charging points for our customers.”

A Tesco spokesperson added: “We want to learn as much as possible from these first two lorries about how these lorries perform and what’s required to scale this more widely. The 30-mile route between Wentloog rail terminal and Tesco’s Magor Distribution Centre is an important part of our distribution operation and is an ideal location for us to test the range and operability within rather than outside of our operations.

We also recognise how proud Wales is of its efforts to better protect the environment and we’re excited to play a small part in realising the ambitions here.”

Depending on results, Tesco will consider scaling the operation up. 

Geoff Tomlinson, managing director at FSEW, said: “Setting the industry standard is important to us which is why we also have plans underway to create an e-freight hub in Cardiff which will include a low-carbon fuel facility for the use of all freight providers and commercial and municipal operators and are also launching this month two further trucks running on 100% renewable biomethane fuel for freight transport use.”

Meanwhile, Tesco has introduced a new refrigerated rail service to transport chilled goods such as parsnip, carrots, and onions 415 miles from Tilbury, Thurrock in Essex to Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire in Scotland twice a day, seven days a week.

In partnership with rail freight company Direct Rail Services, the service will take 40 lorries off the road for every journey and replace 7.3m road miles.

Tesco said removing 17,000 containers from the roads will save nearly 9,000 tonnes of CO2e from being released into the atmosphere.

Each freight train can carry as much as 76 HGVs.

A study by the Rail Delivery Group found all-rail freight cuts CO2 emissions by 76% compared to road freight.

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