Woolworths is harnessing the power of the sun to deliver retail orders to customers

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Woolworths is testing electric vans to deliver retail goods in South Africa.
Woolworths is testing electric vans to deliver retail goods in South Africa.
  • Woolworths is testing all-electric vans in its delivery fleet.
  • The vans can travel up to 240km on a single charge.
  • Solar power is being used to recharge the vehicles overnight.
  • For motoring news, go to Wheels24

Popular food and clothing retailer Woolworths has announced via social media that it's trial-running a handful of electric vans that Everlectric has supplied (and operated in partnership with DSV, its logistics partner). The company aims to reduce its impact on the environment across its value chain.

Everlectric is a bespoke supplier of electric vans. The vehicles that Woolworths is using, according to a report by CleanTechnica, is the SAIC Maxus eDeliver3. It's an all-electric vehicle with a carrying capacity of 905kg or 4800 litres. The van boasts a 52.5kWh battery pack for 240km of driving range on a WLTP cycle.

The vehicle's top speed is limited to 120km/h. According to the vehicle manufacturer, it can charge from 0% to 80% in 45 minutes if you use a high-voltage direct current charger. Unfortunately, those chargers aren't available in South Africa; however, if you stick it on a 7.4kW AC charger, it will be fully charged in eight hours.

Do you think electric vans and trucks can work in your transport business in South Africa. Can you work around load shedding to deliver goods on time? Let us know in the comments section, or please send us an email.

SAIC Maxus eDeliver3
The SAIC Maxus eDeliver3 can travel a claimed 240km on a full charge.

Woolworths uses photovoltaic solar panels to capture energy from the sun, which it then pipes into the test vehicles' battery packs at its depot. Using the sun's power and considering the overall reduction in emissions compared to using a diesel-powered delivery vehicle of this capacity, Woolies has been able to save 3.6 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the past two months of testing the electric vans.

Woolworths, internationally, is no stranger to using electric vehicles to move its goods or deliver services. Earlier this year, the team at one of our favourite trucking publications, PowerTorque in Australia, reported on Woolworths adding a full-electric Volvo FL truck into its operations.

"The Volvo FL Electric transports fresh produce daily from the Melbourne fresh food distribution centre operated by the Woolworths Group's supply chain arm, Primary Connect. It's one of two Volvo FL Electrics in Australia and 75 released globally and is the only Volvo FL electric vehicle in Australia to be fitted with refrigeration. The truck can deliver up to eight pallets of produce to Woolworths's supermarkets at a time," the report notes.

SAIC Maxus eDeliver3
The SAIC Maxus eDeliver3 can carry almost one ton of goods.

Woolworths' local logistics partner, DSV, is also an old player in using EVs in transport operations. In 2017 the company began converting its diesel trucks to run on electricity instead in Poland.

As online retail rises in popularity in South Africa and FMCG businesses such as Woolworths look to improve environmental impact and sustainability, you can expect more electric vehicles in delivery fleets around the country. We know we'll miss the sound of the diesel tuk-tuks that we've gotten used to hearing over the past few months during lockdown when it comes to deliveries, but we're looking forward to noise-free deliveries in future.

Don't forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter, 'LET'S DRIVE', for the latest motoring news in South Africa.

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