Shannon loves her Electric Truck at Frito-Lay!

Saturday, December 3, 2011 8 comments

Shannon Douglas is a pioneer...she's 1 of 176 people at Frito-Lay who is assigned to drive a new electric delivery truck...and she loves it.

Frito-Lay announced in September 2010 year that they were starting the deployment of largest fleet of electric delivery trucks in North America.  Just a few states got some of the 176 "Newton" model 24ft delivery trucks from Smith Electric Vehicles...and Orlando scored 10 of them.  Frito-Lay expects to save 500,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year from these 176 trucks...which is $2 Million a year if it stays at $4/Gal!

I attended an Open House in Orlando where Frito-Lay discussed their EV strategy and allowed us to climb around their new vehicles...I even went for a ride around the block in one!

One of the reasons why Orlando was chosen to get these cutting-edge trucks is because Orlando Fleet Manager Jack Dignan wanted them here, as he's very interested in lowering fuel cost and maintenance.  Jack already trains his drivers to drive fuel efficiently and displays each driver's fuel usage to inspire some competition between drivers to use less fuel.

EV's are an incredibly smart choice for short haul delivery vehicles (like Frito-Lay snack foods), as
  1. Fuel is much cheaper - Diesel is $4 a gallon and rising quickly and electricity is $0.12 and rising slowly.
  2. They don't pollute...which important in urban delivery areas.  Each truck emits no tailpipe emissions and 75% less greenhouse gases than a conventional diesel truck.
  3. They're very quiet!
  4. EVs eliminate the added wear and additional pollution when you start an internal combustion engine...and delivery vehicles start/stop many times a day.
  5. They are much easier to oil changes (that's a lot of oil!), no air filters, no exhaust, etc. 
These trucks hold the same amount of product as the diesel trucks, and have A/C, heating, and a backup they do the same work as their noisy, smelly, and carbon emitting diesel versions.  Since drivers drive the same route each day, range anxiety can be designed out.

The classic knock on EV's is that they fill up slower, as they take 8 hours to recharge, but so what since the trucks are parked all night anyway.  Frito-Lay can lower their fuel cost even more by delaying charging to get off-peak rates.

Now getting back to Shannon...

Shannon has been driving her new EV for 3 months now.  Her route is 59 miles down to Kissimmee which has some highway and city driving.  When I asked her how she liked her truck, she said she loved it and wouldn't go back to a diesel!  Why?  I heard three reasons...
  1. Easy Driver Maintenance.  Drivers have to perform maintenance to their truck each day, which means running though a checklist, touching greasy stuff like dipsticks, and filling up the truck with smelly diesel fuel.  Shannon's checklist for her EV is much shorter, the trucks are cleaner, and the truck is fully fueled with electrons when she leaves the depot every morning since she plugged in the night before.
  2. It's Comfy.  The cab is quiet and cool since you're not sitting on a hot and noisy engine anymore.
  3. It's Cool.  Shannon gets questions all the time from people asking about the truck and how she likes driving it.  It's fun to be on the leading edge of something that is only positive to the people she passes each noise, no pollution.
Here are some factoids about the trucks...
  • Can run up to 100 miles on a single charge of their 220kW Lithium Battery (for comparison, a Nissan Leaf's battery is 24 kW)
  • Takes 8 hours to recharge using 75Amp Level 2 Chargers from Clipper Creek
  • Has regenerative braking to capture energy normally lost when stopping
  • Can haul 16,000 pounds (7,250kg)
  • They emit zero tailpipe emissions and 75 percent less greenhouse gases than diesel when you count the emissions from the electric power plant.
  • They operate virtually silently, eliminating noise pollution
  • They provide a long term economically viable solution...the bean counters love low O&M!
Kudo's for Frito-Lay for pioneering EVs in their fleets.  Without risk-taking, progressive company's like Frito-Lay (and DHL, FedEx, UPS, and several others who are deploying similar trucks), EVs would take longer to get to economies of scale which will make them cheaper for the rest of the world.