Colruyt Group takes next steps towards zero-emission transport

Colruyt Group takes next steps towards zero-emission transport

New 100% electric vehicles in use: 44-tonne truck and five refrigerated trucks

Friday, May 5, 2023

At the end of last year Colruyt Group announced its latest climate ambition: by 2035, all the retail group's goods transport will be zero-emission. Both its own transport from and to the stores, and the transport from and to the distribution centres via suppliers. This ambition is becoming increasingly concrete. This spring Colruyt Group will start using a 44-tonne electric truck and five refrigerated trucks. The project came about with the support of VLAIO. The use of these vehicles meets the promise Colruyt Group made within the Brussels ‘Low-emission urban logistics’ Green Deal.

New battery-electric vehicles

Every day, up to 700 drivers drive an average of 200,000 kilometres for Colruyt Group. In November 2022, the company expressed the ambition to make all those kilometres zero-emission by 2035. Vehicles running on green hydrogen and battery-electric vehicles running on green electricity will become the standard. The belief in both technologies is strong. And thanks to the complementary expertise of Virya Energy and DATS 24 in energy production and infrastructure, Colruyt Group is confident that it will achieve its ambition.

The next steps in the field of electric driving will be taken this spring. Colruyt Group will start using a 44-tonne electric truck, which will allow silent deliveries to be made. In addition, Solucious, Colruyt Group's online food wholesaler, was the first food service company in Belgium to invest in five electric, refrigerated trucks at the end of last year. All vehicles will hit the road in the coming weeks, a major step towards the 2035 target. Frederik Muylaert, transport division manager at Colruyt Group: “Six months after the announcement of our ambition, our efforts are already visible on the road which is something we're very proud of. We hope these electric trucks will inspire the rest of the sector. We'll provide the necessary charging stations ourselves, but we hope that by getting these vehicles on the road, we also highlight the need for more public charging infrastructure. We strongly believe in an ecosystem with all our partners and the government in which we can enable a zero-emission future together.”

Brussels Green Deal promise by 2025 already met

The electric vehicles are concrete proof that Colruyt Group is taking steps within the Brussels ‘Low-emission urban logistics’ Green Deal that was signed on 19 April 2023. This Brussels project aims at making the transition to low-emission mobility. By 2025, concrete actions are expected from the signing organisations, but Colruyt Group has already begun to act. Colruyt Group's promise, on the one hand, comprises the pilot project whereby the 44-tonne truck will deliver to Colruyt Lowest Prices stores in Brussels. On the other hand, the purchase of the five electric and refrigerated Solucious trucks is also part of the deal. In other words, Colruyt Group can already cross off this promise from its list of action points.

Elke Van den Brandt, Brussels Minister of Mobility, Public Works and Road Safety is satisfied with the actions Colruyt Group is taking: “Air quality is a key priority for the Brussels government, and the transport industry can make a big difference in this area. Low-emission logistics is a crucial lever in combating air pollution in cities: good for the economy, good for air quality, good for the people of Brussels. Several companies, such as Colruyt Group, play a pioneering role in this, and that is great. By working together, we can really have an impact on air quality in and around the city.”

Innovative vehicles in sustainable partnership with Volvo and Scania

In its search for suitable zero-emission vehicles, Scania and Volvo proved to be valuable partners which Colruyt Group has been working with for years. Volvo supplied a Volvo FM Electric 44-tonne truck, as well as three Volvo FE Electric refrigerated box trucks. Scania provided two Scania P230 refrigerated box trucks.

The 44-tonne electric truck will be used to transport goods between the distribution centres and the Colruyt Group stores in Belgium. Apart from being zero-emission, the Volvo FM Electric is also quieter than its counterparts with a combustion engine. To charge the truck, a completely new charging infrastructure with fast chargers has been built at Colruyt Group's Dassenveld distribution centre. The intention is to organise meaningful tests in real conditions with this truck. This allows Colruyt Group to gain the necessary insights in terms of using more of these vehicles in the future, organising itself efficiently and inspiring partners.

The purchased refrigerated trucks will be used by Solucious. Gradius built in refrigeration equipment (also 100% electrically powered), insulation cabinets and a loading lift. Fitting such equipment in electric vehicles is an innovative project. The trucks are powered by 100% green electricity generated locally by Colruyt Group by the PV installations and wind turbines at the Laekebeek distribution centre. The aim is to use these trucks to supply Solucious' professional customers, such as hospitals, catering businesses and companies in the centre of Brussels. Apart from being zero-emission, the trucks are also much quieter than their counterparts with diesel-powered refrigeration equipment, which means they are a significant improvement for deliveries in an urban environment. Solucious will test the impact of the energy needed for refrigeration on the vehicles' range, and of the recharging times on a flexible use of the trucks.

Volvo and Scania have responded positively to their contribution to Colruyt Group's zero-emission transport plan. “We're delighted to be able to develop and test sustainable transport solutions with Colruyt Group,” Frank Kimpe, Managing Director of Volvo Trucks Belgium, says. “Both the Volvo FM Electric and the three FE Electric refrigerated trucks are a major milestone in the development of zero-emission transport in Belgium. Together with partners like Colruyt Group with a clear vision on sustainability, we're making an impact. It's up to all of us together to meet the challenges we face.”

Stef Holemans, Sales Director of Scania Belgium, adds: “The partnership with Colruyt Group has existed for many years and it gives us the confidence to help make this project a reality. The transition towards a sustainable future of the transport sector is very much underway. We're convinced that our versatile technology solutions will contribute to this future and we hope that other retailers can follow suit.”