Pepsi Isn’t The Only Company Hauling Sodas With Electric Trucks

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When it comes to electric semi trucks, the Tesla semi seems to get most of the attention. Every move a Tesla semi makes on the open road seems to get filmed by somebody and posted to social media. For Tesla fanatics, the Semi is the end-all-be-all of electric trucks, and they just aren’t very excited about other manufacturers’ offerings, assuming they’re aware of them at all.

Today, the Semi is working for a few relatively small test fleets for notable companies like Frito-lay and Pepsi. And, when it comes to Pepsi, the Tesla semi is an ideal vehicle. Like other soda bottling companies, Pepsi doesn’t bottle everything in one factory and ship sodas all over the United States. Instead, it ships things like syrup around and does the bottling regionally. This makes heaps of sense, because soda is mostly water, and getting water locally means you don’t need to ship water around at great expense.

This means that the heavy loads only typically get shipped within a few hundred miles of the bottling plant, which means Tesla’s Semi has plenty of range to get the job done. The same is true for snack companies like Frito Lay.

But, while Tesla is working on limited trials of the Semi with a few companies, other manufacturers aren’t sitting on their butts. Because electric trucks can already be useful for regional hauling without the need for expensive infrastructure, other companies are not only developing and testing, but are deploying electric trucks to customers. So, in some ways, this is a corner of the EV industry where it’s possible to be ahead of Tesla, or at least keep up with it in 2023.

Not only can other truck manufacturers do this, but a recent partnership between Volvo and Coca-Cola Canada shows that there’s some competition among soda brands here, too!

To commemorate its fifth anniversary and underscore the significance of its “Toward a Better Future Together” environmental sustainability action plan, Coke Canada Bottling Limited proudly unveiled its inaugural fleet of Volvo VNR Electric trucks. These cutting-edge vehicles, comprising a six-truck pilot program, will be deployed to service the renowned ‘Red Fleet’ customer delivery routes across the Greater Montreal Area.

Perhaps most importantly, Coke Canada Bottling holds the distinction of being the first food and beverage manufacturer in Canada to embrace electric Class 8 trucks as part of its fleet, at least according to the press release. Aside from deploying zero-tailpipe emission Volvo VNR Electric trucks, Coke Canada Bottling is also implementing other fuel efficiency measures within their fleet. This includes the electrification of light-duty service vehicles and the utilization of alternative fuel sources. These initiatives not only enhance environmental sustainability but also contribute to overall operational effectiveness.

Coke Canada Bottling unveiled its Volvo VNR electric trucks during a special celebration held at its distribution center in east Montreal, which also marked the company’s fifth anniversary. The distribution center houses a fleet of 650 heavy-duty vehicles that cater to customers across the region. The festivities included engaging driving experiences for employees, with the presence of other stakeholders who demonstrated their support for this initiative.

“Our global brand and this Canadian, family-owned business are well aligned on rapidly advancing environmental sustainability action plans,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president, Volvo Trucks North America. “We look forward to supporting Coke Canada Bottling as they test out feasibility through this pilot. The deployment of the first battery-electric Volvo VNR Electric trucks at their fifth birthday celebration demonstrates the importance of pursuing environmental sustainability goals, which benefit the community and employees at every level.”

Coke Canada Bottling’s Volvo VNR Electric trucks utilize a six-battery configuration, enabling a single charge to cover up to 440 km (275 miles). These trucks make multiple daily round trips of 150 km (93 miles) from the distribution center in Montreal to customer locations in the region. To facilitate drive-through charging, three 150 kW DC chargers with nine dispensers have been installed at the Montreal Distribution Center. With a battery capacity of 565 kWh, the trucks can achieve an 80% charge in just 90 minutes, so they’re ready to turn around for another run fairly quickly.

The Volvo VNR Electric trucks will receive dedicated support from their local Volvo Trucks Certified Electric Vehicle dealership. This certification ensures that the dealership’s staff receives extensive sales and service training to provide comprehensive assistance throughout customers’ electromobility journey. This includes helping secure incentive funding to lower the cost of the battery-electric trucks, making the entire experience seamless and cost-effective.

Coke Canada Bottling leveraged federal and provincial incentives such as Écocamionnage and the Incentives for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicles (iMHZEV) Program funding to mitigate the expenses associated with acquiring six Volvo VNR Electric trucks.

Why This Matters

When it comes to transitioning away from diesel and gasoline, we’re in a situation where we need all hands on deck. We can’t rely on one or two companies to build vehicles, charging infrastructure, and provide clean energy to power them. If we rely on one or two companies to do this, we’ll either end up with a slower transition than we need, or a monopoly will emerge and abuse the position they’re in.

So, it’s great to see an effort go together to get Coca-Cola’s electric effort going that doesn’t involve Tesla at all. The trucks came from Volvo. The charging stations came from someone else. The money came from Canadian governments.

I mean no disrespect to Tesla at all, but this is a good sign that the rest of the industry can accomplish electric trucking in 2023. This isn’t something that’s going to make Tesla’s stonk go up, but it means that the rest of the industry is going to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

But, they’d probably all be dragging their feet if Tesla hadn’t proven that it could be done. So, even dedicated Tesla fans who don’t want to see other succeed should at least see that this is proof that Tesla’s mission is happening, both in the United States and all around North America.

Featured image provided by Volvo.


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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1869 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba