Genesis takes on first eCanter

In News, Fuso, August 20215 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 12, 2021

Electricity and gas company Genesis has added a Fuso eCanter to its fleet, making it the first company in the southern hemisphere to do so.

The eCanter, based at the company’s East Tamaki site, joins the 10 hybrid vehicles already part of the company’s 110-strong truck fleet. “We have committed to removing at least 1.2 million tonnes of annual carbon emissions from our activities over the next five years, and transport-related initiatives will be part of that,” said Cameron Jardine, Genesis general manager of LPG and small and medium business.

Genesis worked with Fuso New Zealand, Keith Andrews Trucks, and TR Group to bring the eCanter into service, taking it on as part of a six-year lease agreement through TR Group. The eCanter features bodywork and an automated tail lift made to Genesis specification by Koromiko Engineering, the preferred bodybuilder for Genesis.

New Zealand Trucking was one of two publications invited to view the eCanter on the same day trainers from Fuso New Zealand were on site to introduce driver Norm Vaili to his new charge.

TR Group managing director, Andrew Carpenter; Fuso NZ managing director, Kurtis Andrews; and Genesis general manager of LPG and small and medium business, Cameron Jardine.

“It’s awesome to drive; it’s really quick, like a big go-kart,” said Vaili, and added: “It’s a big step forward in the move away from carbon emissions, it’s the right way to go.”

Vaili will be intimately involved in feeding back information on how the eCanter performs, which will guide electric/hybrid decisions for Genesis over the next four years. At first, the eCanter will run on selected routes before going into wider Auckland. “We need to know how it works within our operation – the mileage we can get out of it and battery usage, ideal loads and so on. It’ll be interesting to see how it carries our bottles.”

With a GVM of 7490kg, the eCanter is considered a medium-sized truck in the Genesis fleet. However, it poses a payload penalty compared with an equivalent diesel-powered truck, which is one factor the company aims to understand to get things right in the future. Brad Phillips, Genesis heavy fleet manager, explained that there was a lot to be learnt.

“For example, some of the things we’ve been investigating include the optimum charging routine – will it be back to base every night or fast charges while the driver has their mandated breaks?” Genesis expects a range of 100km to 150km between charges in its operation.

From left: Norm Vaili, Genesis East Tamaki driver; Brad Phillips, Genesis heavy fleet manager; and Jane Sutton, Genesis regional manager, upper North Island.

Additional complications are posed by bringing an electric vehicle into operation where LPG gas is the primary product on site. “We have zonings and charging restrictions and other considerations we’ve never had to deal with in combination – that’s the complexity. Where do we put chargers on-site?

With all the hazard zones, it’s technically difficult; one truck is one thing, but if we have a fleet of 15 electric trucks, we must figure out where to park and charge them outside of these zones,” he explained.

However, Phillips added that Genesis was leaping in and figuring out the solutions instead of waiting for them to be delivered. “What does the range look like in real life operations, and how many cylinders can we deliver in that range? What are the best areas to deploy these? It’ll take a while to figure that all out. We’ve gone into this knowing we don’t yet have all the answers.”