Fonterra trials first modern electric milk tanker

‘Our teams are constantly screening the possibilities to see what could work across our supply chain’

New Zealand dairy co-op Fonterra will trial the first modern electric milk tanker at its Waitoa plant, near Auckland.

The tanker, part-financed by the government’s Low Emission Transport Fund, is being fitted out in the co-op’s Morrinsville tanker depot and is due to hit the road in early May.

The vehicle, which has a range of about 140km on a full charge and can carry 25,700 litres of milk, uses a cab and chassis are from Chinese construction machinery group XCMG

It will take about three hours to charge, and Fonterra will operate it on a battery swap system so it doesn’t sit idle while charging. The team will be able to swap the battery out in about six minutes. 

Fonterra hopes the trial will give it a clearer picture of what the future of electric milk collection and rural heavy transport looks like.​ Factors being assessed include how far it can go, how easy it is to charge, milk collection, maintenance, efficiency, cost, and driver comfort and safety.

With road transport being one the fastest-growing source of greenhouse emissions – making up 20% of the national total – the co-op sees this as an opportunity to help the country identify and deliver lower carbon transport solutions. 

Related: Fonterra partners with Royal DSM to lower on-farm greenhouse gas emissions

Chief operating officer Fraser Whineray says improving emissions across the entire supply chain is part of Fonterra’s overall commitment to sustainability.

“The global technology investment in sustainable land, air and sea transport is phenomenal,” he added. “Our teams are constantly screening the possibilities to see what could work across our supply chain. We’re exploring multiple options for renewable heavy transport, particularly in rural settings.”

The e-tanker is part of Fonterra’s electric vehicle strategy that will see a third of the co-op’s light vehicle fleet converted to EVs by the end of 2023, while also focusing on transitioning medium and heavy vehicles​​.

Last year, Fonterra announced NZ$1n in sustainability initiatives over the next decade as it works towards its 2050 net zero target.