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National potato supplier sets sights on net zero with pioneering EV trial

Transportation poses a huge environmental challenge to food suppliers because of the need to collect the fresh produce from growers, bring it to packing sites then deliver it to customers as rapidly as possible.

Following two years of research, Branston has set out to trial Volvo’s FM Electric 4×2 truck as part of its fleet for one week, with the aim of exploring the truck’s mileage capabilities, charging practicalities and driving performance. The vehicle will be used to support both distribution centre deliveries and farm pick-ups.

Simon Telfer, HR and logistics director at Branston, said: “A key part of our transport strategy is ensuring Branston’s transport not only works for us now but in the future. As a business we have ambitious goals to reach net zero and we’re passionate about delivering this for the transport section.

“Having researched the most viable alternative fuel options, we feel electric powered is the most practical for our needs. We approached Crossroads Truck and Bus Ltd back in 2021 and started working together to bring this trial to fruition.”

The vehicle, which was delivered from Sweden, has the capacity to travel up to 300km with a single charge of its latest generation three battery. The truck comes with the same features and comfort found in the traditional model and takes 2.5 hours to reach full charge when using maximum wattage input.

Branston is one of the first businesses in the UK to trial this cutting-edge technology from Volvo in a bid to uncover the potential of electric-powered vehicles in transportation.

Mr Telfer is confident that by 2035, battery technology will have advanced to the point where drivers will be able to make a return journey to any location without needing to recharge, which he said is crucial to the long-term integration of EV for Branston.

“This trial will allow us to understand any challenges, such as the charging and cost, and what improvements we’ll need to make to transition our fleet within our timeframe. We know the vehicles aren’t where we need them to be to transition our full fleet yet but the purpose of undertaking the trial is to see how it drives and how it impacts our operations,” he added.

The trial will see the Branston team use the vehicle across three different shift patterns to gain a good understanding of which tasks it is most suited for. Driver trainer Lindsey Burrows will be overseeing the transport team to ensure the truck is being utilised as efficiently as possible.

“EV is the future and the sooner we can get on board with seeing what options are out there, the better. It’s an exciting time to be working in transportation as so much change is happening,” she said.

“I’ll be supporting the team in ensuring their training is up to date and they’re comfortable with handling the vehicles, including the charging of them, which will be new to everyone.”

Adam North, area sales manager for Crossroads, the truck dealer for Volvo, is excited to be working with Branston in a move towards attaining a greener and more sustainable transport solution.

He said: “The relationship between Crossroads Truck and Bus and Branston has been strong for over 20 years, not only does Branston understand how Volvo operates, but like us, they share the same view that compromise and investment is required to achieve our aligned net zero targets and the only way to achieve this is working together.”


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