South African Breweries (SAB), part of the ABInBev family, launched its first electric commercial vehicle at its Chamdor Brewery in Krugersdorp on the 16th of January. Many thanks to Hideki Machida, who attended the launch event and shared some lovely pictures of SAB’s new eCanter with CleanTechnica.
Electrification of its fleet is part of ABInBev’s 2025 sustainability goals, which also include the company’s global renewable energy initiative, which will see the company powering all of its plants with 100% renewable energy by 2025. It’s great to see large corporations with large fleets starting to adopt electric vehicles in this part of the world. We hope this will inspire a “Keeping up with the Joneses” phenomenon that will drive other corporations to transition to electric mobility on the African continent.
We are starting to see more and more companies choose to go electric on their delivery routes. As we recently shared, Greenspoon in Kenya has added electric vans on its delivery routes. The unit economics definitely make sense. According to Mitsubishi, the eCanter offers savings of up to €1000 per 10,000 km on operational costs compared to an equivalent diesel truck. Large fleet operators in Africa will benefit significantly by increasing the penetration of electric vehicles in their fleets.
This electrification of vehicles in this segment makes a lot of sense, as most of the vehicles in this segment are usually deployed on city routes. The start-stop nature of these routes is perfect for electric trucks like the eCanter since the truck’s utilisation will be able to take full advantage of regenerative braking.
The eCanter has six Mercedes-Benz liquid-cooled, high voltage, 13.8 kWh lithium-ion batteries that come together to make an 82.8 kWh pack that has a usable capacity of 66 kWh. It’s great that it also comes with an actively cooled battery, especially in hot and sunny South Africa. This should assure users of excellent battery health in the long term. Accelerated battery degradation has been an issue before in South Africa, with reports of rapid degradation in some of the first-generation Nissan Leafs that didn’t have any active cooling.
The eCanter comes with a maximum power of 135 kW (equivalent to 180 hp), a top speed of 80 km/h, maximum torque of 390 Nm, and a range of about 100 km. The maximum payload for this body type is 4,125 kg.
When the eCanter was introduced commercially in 2017, vehicles from a limited production run were taken up by several firms, such as Seven-Eleven Co., Ltd in Japan and United Postal Services in the USA. Mass production of the eCanter was set to commence in 2019.
Africa is not always top of the list as a market for many of the large international OEMs when it comes to electric vehicles, as most of them are still struggling to produce large numbers of vehicles due to “battery supply constraints,” amongst other things. We certainly hope that seeing the eCanter in South Africa is a sign that some level of volume production of the eCanter has started and we will soon see more and more electric trucks in South Africa and in the rest of Africa.
Some may be wary of the ever-present electricity blackouts in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, but the scheduled nature of delivery/logistic routes can allow fleet operators to plan their charging sessions around this. Plus, more and more large corporations, including ABInBev, are starting to install onsite solar power plants. The stationary battery storage market is also starting to come alive in the region and will help mitigate against the effects of the power cuts.
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