Electric Refrigerated Trucks: Are They The Future?

If the world is to meet its Net Zero target, all vehicles will eventually have to go electric. This includes commercial vehicles like trucks and even refrigerated trucks. 

Is it possible to power a refrigerated truck using nothing but electricity? Yes. In fact, there are already fully-electric refrigerated trucks available to buy. These trucks are likely to be the go-to choice in the future. This guide explains how electric refrigerated trucks work, their benefits and what will likely happen in the future.

How do electric refrigerated trucks work?

The majority of regular refrigerated trucks are powered by petrol or diesel. This fuel not only powers the engine, allowing the truck to drive, but also powers a direct drive compressor that powers the refrigeration process. Other trucks will have an engine powered by petrol or diesel, and a separate refrigeration process powered by gas. In some cases, refrigerated trucks use a combination of petrol and gas. 

Electric refrigerated trucks are meanwhile fully powered by an electric battery. This is charged at an EV charging station. The battery not only powers movement of the vehicle but also powers the refrigeration process. 

Benefits of electric refrigerated trucks

There are many benefits to using an all-electric refrigerated truck. Some of the perks of these trucks include:

Reduce fossil fuel consumption

Electric refrigerated trucks do not require petrol or diesel to power their engines and they do not require gas to aid with refrigeration. This puts less demand on the mining of these fossil fuels, which are in limited supply.

While it is true that electricity used to charge an electric battery may come from a power station burning fossil fuels, most energy grids are now starting to move away from fossil fuel sources and generating more energy from green sources like wind farms and solar farms. This makes electric vehicles a better choice in the fight against fossil fuel consumption.

Reduced carbon emissions

Electric refrigerated trucks not only reduce demand on fossil fuel mining, but help to produce less carbon emissions. When a vehicle uses an electric battery, no carbon emissions are created by the vehicle itself. This helps to reduce air pollution and combat climate change (of which vehicle exhaust fumes play a big part). 

Carbon emissions may still be created in the manufacture of EVs and the generation of electricity for charging stations, however as the world moves towards seeking power from sustainable sources like wind and solar this should eventually be the case.

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Deliveries in zero emission zones

A big benefit of using electric refrigerated vehicles for many companies is the ability to travel freely in zones with emission restrictions. Currently, drivers hoping to make deliveries in low emission zones such as London’s LEZ have to pay a charge. Moving to use of electric refrigerated trucks could allow deliveries to be made in these zones without having to pay extra fees.

In the future, there are likely to be more zero emission zones in which only electric vehicles will be allowed to travel. Companies wishing to make deliveries in these areas will need to switch to electric transport solutions. 

Low noise

Many petrol and diesel lorries can be quite noisy. On top of contributing to air pollution, they contribute to noise pollution in cities. In areas with noise restrictions, they may not be allowed to make deliveries during certain times.

Electric refrigerated vehicles are much quieter. Most have an operating noise below 60 dBA allowing them to be compliant with noise restrictions across the country (this allows the option for early hours deliveries in heavily built-up areas where residents may otherwise complain about the noise). 

Improved reputation

Adopting an electric fleet of trucks is not just good for a company’s carbon footprint, but also their reputation. A growing number of manufacturers, distributors and retailers want to work with green delivery companies. This is because more end-consumers are trying to lower their carbon footprint and are therefore choosing not to buy products or shop at stores that are not doing their bit to protect the environment.

Using electric refrigerated trucks can make a delivery company more attractive to customers looking for green delivery options. All in all, adopting electric refrigerated trucks can be a great way for delivery companies to boost their reputation. 

Are they the future?

There is no doubt that such vehicles will take over in the future as the world transitions to EVs. Of course, we may have to wait a while before adoption becomes widespread. 

A big problem with electric vehicles right now is the cost of purchasing them. As the used market becomes larger and new vehicles become cheaper to manufacture, it may become more viable for trucking companies to buy fully-electric refrigerated trucks.

Electric refrigerated trucks also have a much more limited range than petrol and diesel trucks. Their range is reduced further by the fact that electricity has to be used to power the refrigeration process. As a result, they are not yet suitable for long journeys. Unless the range of EVs improves, trucking companies may have no choice but to share long journeys between multiple vehicles. Many trucking companies are therefore likely to hold out while before adopting these vehicles.

Access to fast EV chargers is another obstacle. There aren’t many EV chargers around right now and the most available options tend to be slow-charging stations. An increase in access to ultra-rapid charging stations could make it possible for vehicles to take smaller breaks between journeys. 

Even if more work needs to be done to make electric refrigerated vehicles more practical for everyone, many trucking companies can still benefit from converting to these vehicles now. Companies that typically don’t require a long range are likely to benefit from these trucks the most (especially city delivery transport that can also benefit from free access to low emission zones). And while they can be an expensive purchase, the cost of powering them up is less than the cost of petrol and diesel right now, which could mean savings in the long run.