City Corporation introduces UK’s first fully electric refuse truck fleet
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The moves put Electra on course for £96million turnover next year as it firms up plans for a second factory and expansion of its 35-strong workforce in Blackburn, Lancashire with engineering jobs and apprenticeships.
An innovative £2.25million asset financing arrangement from Aldermore bank with Electra’s sister company NRG Fleet Services has under-pinned a seven-vehicle delivery helping the City of London Corporation’s drive to reduce air pollution.
It follows other deals with councils and their cleansing contractors in the capital, Manchester, Bristol and Bath.
Brewer and pub chain BrewDog also increased its cool beer credentials when it acquired a 19-tonne, temperature-controlled Electra recently.
Founded by entrepreneur Sid Sadique in 2017 to find solutions to the increasing environmental demands facing a commercial vehicle market which in the UK alone has 600,000 trucks, Electra is part of an established transport, rental and maintenance company network he chairs that is pooling its technical and sector expertise to develop innovations and new order pipelines.
Green power: Electra chairman Sid Sadique (Image: nc)
Central to that has been Electra’s collaborations with HGV giants such as Mercedes Benz and Dennis Eagle.
They supply warranty-backed ‘glider’ chassis that have no engine that Electra then electrifies using original components for its customers for HGVs from 7.5 to 44 tonnes.
“We make city centre delivery a 100 percent clean and silent operation,” Sadique explains. “We understand what a truck needs to do in its day-to-day life. Builds meet all approvals and standards required for UK roads and meet criteria for sales in Europe.”
While construction, delivery and refrigeration are all markets for the business, arguably the best showcase so far for what Electra and its integration technology is achieving has been refuse collection.
The carts’ slow, stop-start operations don’t burn off particulates and result in high emissions in public places and a health headache for local authorities.
Manchester has replaced almost 50 percent of its refuse collection vehicles with Electras. “Our trucks are performing beyond expectation,” says Sadique.
“Electrifying such power-hungry vehicles can be challenging due to space constraints, but we can fit well over 300 kWh of power onto a vehicle meaning they can do a full-day operation on a single charge.”
Refuse result: cleaner trucks are better for all (Image: Rich Colvill)
Now Electra is collaborating with fuel cell manufacturer Proton Motor Power Systems on electric-hydrogen powered trucks and also aims to have a purpose-built prototype on the road come December leading to trials in the north east with a major supermarket.
“This will open up sales to operators with more extended range requirements and a quicker transition from fossil fuels,” says Sadique who is also steering Electra into electric applications for the coach and fire engine markets.
The company’s nimble, micro-manufacturing model makes it a good fit to scale globally and part of that plan is to send out products in kit form to be electrified.
Ahead of the curve: Electra’s manufacturing plant (Image: Rich Colvill)
“The UK’s low emission vehicle industry is a huge success story,” says Lee Rhodes, Aldermore’s commercial director for asset finance. “We’re proud to be working with NRG Fleet Services on this journey towards cleaner refuse vehicles on our roads. It’s step in the right direction in helping the UK meet its net-zero target, while keeping our streets clean.”
The power that comes from being part of a close-knit network of companies backed by a commercially receptive banking relationship have played a huge part in getting a complex deal over the line and now greener trucks in UK cities.
“We have provided more fully electric HGVs on UK roads than anyone else to date,” adds Sadique. “We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Aldermore bank and it has a very good understanding of the transition challenges fleet operators are facing to go zero-emission to meet public demand for clean air in our cities and towns.
“Being ahead of the curve is always an uphill battle, but we’re on the road to changing the industry.”