Welcoming the Little Engine That Could
You don’t often find truckers who are proud to say they have an engine that’s smaller than most, but that’s the case with Paul Cunnington. That’s because his Victoria-based company, R&B Trucking, is about to take ownership of a specially modified 2008 Freightliner that’s the first Class 5 vehicle of its kind in Western Canada.
This vehicle is special because it comes equipped with a hybrid-electric engine that’s about the same size as a diesel motor in a pickup. The key difference is the hybrid-electric power plant is far more fuel efficient, leading to a big drop in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
“I believe we should do what we can to minimize our impact on the environment,” explains Cunnington. “Purchasing this urban delivery truck may appear to be a relatively small step when it comes to the big picture but, should the modifications lead to the improvements we’re hoping, I’ll be the first to get the word out to other fleet operators about the benefits of going hybrid-electric.”
It shouldn’t take long to do that. R&B Trucking is a key participant in Green Fleets BC’s enviroTruck program, where companies are encouraged to move towards environmentally friendly technologies and then share their experiences with others in the industry. Cunnington is already aware of a number of companies intrigued by R&B’s decision to get the truck and want to know how it performs.
“Apart from the dramatic environmental benefits that we’re expecting,“ explains Cunnington, “with the price of diesel having doubled in the past few years, anything that can potentially shave thousands of dollars off our fuel bill is welcome.”
R&B Trucking will realize further benefits by switching the truck’s refrigeration unit to a 100 per cent electric motor. The switch to an electric motor will:
With companies like Coca-Cola in the US ordering dozens of these specially equipped vehicles, Cunnington says he’s confident R&B Trucking is on the right track.
“Look at taxis,” says Cunnington. “A few years ago, there were just a few electric-hybrid cabs in Victoria. Now, almost all of them are hybrids. I think it will be the same with our industry, especially for fleets that do a lot of urban deliveries like us.”