Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Electric Versus Hydrogen Debate Intensifies As Brewer Keeps HGV Truck Fleet Options Open  

Massive Potential Order as Search for Zero Emissions Continues

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Shipping News Feature US – Major news for the commercial vehicle road haulage sector as Anheuser-Busch, one of the world's largest brewers, has decided to hedge its environmental bets having previously reserved 40 Tesla semi-trucks for its future fleet of HGVs. The company is now to place a much larger order with Tesla's competitor, the Nikola Motor Company, for up to 800 hydrogen-electric powered semi-trucks. The zero-emission trucks, which are supposed to be able to travel between 500 and 1,200 miles between refills, and take within 20 minutes to do so thus reducing idle time, are expected to be integrated into Anheuser-Busch’s dedicated fleet beginning in 2020.

Through this agreement Anheuser-Busch aims to convert its entire long-haul dedicated fleet to renewable powered trucks by 2025. Nikola’s technology should enable the brewer to achieve this milestone across its long-haul loads, while also aiming to improve road safety through the trucks’ advanced surround viewing system. Michel Doukeris, CEO of Anheuser-Busch, commented:

“At Anheuser-Busch we’re continuously searching for ways to improve sustainability across our entire value chain and drive our industry forward. The transport industry is one that is ripe for innovative solutions and Nikola is leading the way with hydrogen-electric, zero-emission capabilities. We are very excited by the possibilities our partnership with them can offer.”

The partnership with Nikola will contribute to Anheuser-Busch’s recently announced 2025 Sustainability Goals, which include reducing CO2 emissions by 25% across its value chain. Once fully implemented, the carbon reductions gained from these 800 trucks will reduce the brewer’s carbon emissions from logistics by more than 18%, equivalent to taking more than thirteen thousand passenger vehicles off the road annually. Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola Motor Company, said:

“Hydrogen-electric technology is the future of logistics and we’re proud to be leading the way. Anheuser-Busch has a long history of investing in progressive, sustainable technology and we are excited to partner with them to bring the largest hydrogen network in the world to the US. By 2028, we anticipate having over 700 hydrogen stations across the US and Canada. With nearly 9 billion dollars in pre-order reservations, we are building to order, not speculation, and are very excited for what’s to come.”

That view would appear to be diametrically opposed to that of Tesla boss Elon Musk who has voiced doubts about hydrogen technology many times, including saying it was an ‘incredibly dumb’ system, and a ‘terrible’ technology. However with billions invested by those in either camp, the hydrogen versus electric debate should always be viewed with a sizeable degree of scepticism.

Certainly, as with all large companies, emission reduction has, and continues to be, a long-term focus for Anheuser-Busch. In 2006, the brewer joined the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) SmartWay Transport programme and, since 2008, has reduced its total energy use in its US breweries by more than 30%. In 2016, Uber owned autonomous trucking operation, Otto, transported over 51,000 cans of Budweiser beer produced by the brewer.

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