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Real routes! Real freight! Canada’s Purolator and Day & Ross take on 11 U.S. companies in three-week electric trucking demo starting today

For the first time in its history, the bi-annual Run On Less trucking competition — run by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency — has gone electric. In another first, two Canadian entrants will participate over the next three weeks with 11 U.S. fleets

Thirteen companies electrifying their medium and heavy-duty commercial fleets are kicking off competition today in the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE)-sponsored Run on Less – Electric demonstration. For the first time, this year’s event will be comprised entirely of electric commercial trucks, vehicles operated by major companies including Frito-Lay, Anheuser-Busch, Penske and DHL, running real routes, carrying real freight.

In another new twist, two Canadian delivery and logistics companies are participating — Day & Ross in Montreal and Purolator in Vancouver. “It’s quite exciting,” said NACFE executive director Mike Roeth in a press conference launching the event at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Santa Monica, Calif. “We had so much interest, we accepted 13 of these deployments…in four different market segments. The first is cargo and step vans.

Second we have medium-duty box trucks. We also have terminal tractors. And then we move onto regional haul.”

Canadian entries important

The Run on Less – Electric (ROLE) event starts Sept.

2 and runs for three weeks. Each company in the event is running a single truck on regular commercial routes in their respective cities. Daily metrics reflecting vehicle performance and efficiency will be collected by each team and posted on the Run on Less website.

Final results will be released on September 20. Roeth said it’s important that the competition was able to get two Canadian entries for this year’s event. “It’s really big.

We did Run On Less with diesel trucks in the first and second editions, but it didn’t work out [getting Canadian entries],” said Roeth. “We’ve seen some great work from Canada in decarbonizing trucking. We’re looking forward to checking in on the data after the 18 days to see how the weather has affected performance, too.” To learn more about the two Canadian entrants, Electric Autonomy Canada spoke with representatives from each company ahead of ROLE.

Here’s a look at both, starting with Day & Ross, then Purolator below.

The Day & Ross electric truck on charge.

Day & Ross – Montreal

Day & Ross, a transportation company based in Hartland, N.B., offering transport and logistics solutions, is one of two Canadian entrants in the competition. For the event, it’s entered one of the Lion Class 6 electric commercial urban trucks it bought from Lion Electric Co. and deployed this year in the Montreal area. “Day & Ross was doing some things to improve freight efficiency and reduce corporate emissions,” says Billy Rae Rattray, the company’s environmental specialist, in an interview with Electric Autonomy Canada. “We thought it’d be a great opportunity to partner with Lion [for ROLE] and showcase our learnings and the learnings that we hope to gain by running these trucks out in our fleet.”

With Day & Ross’ transition to an electric fleet still in the early stages, Rattray says that it’s important to put the new electric trucks through the same daily rigours that their existing fleet faces to see how they perform, where improvements can be made, and what further efficiencies can be gained. According to Rattray, their truck has a 7.9-metre-long body and a 1,500-kilogram tuck-away liftgate with a 252-kWh battery pack. It’s estimated the truck has roughly 290 kilometres of range per charge, depending on the duty cycle and the type of freight.

During the ROLE competition, Day & Ross will be evaluating their truck’s kilowatt hours per kilometre, their maintenance costs, their charge rate and the state of charge. They also want to evaluate how each charge changes as temperatures vary or when different freights are pulled. As for what they’ll be hauling, Rattray says, “It’s a mixed bag.

We haul everything from office furniture to home appliances to electric bikes to paint for contractors…it’s everything we haul and we haul everything under the sun.” For its driver, Day & Ross has chosen long-time Quebec employee Francis Lajoie. Lajoie has been driving with the company for over 25 years, and has worked even longer as a trucker.

Rattray adds, “He’s actually got some familiarity with electric vehicles on the passenger side. And when he caught wind that we were bringing on some electric trucks in this space, he was very excited to get involved and jumped in the employee side of the truck. It honestly can’t be a better fit.”

Purolator – Vancouver

Purolator is running its Class 6 Step Van, manufactured by California-based Motiv Power Systems, in this year’s ROLE demonstration.

The van is one of the six that the company currently uses in Vancouver, having launched the fleet in March. With a 50 per cent increase in residential deliveries since the onset of the pandemic, Purolator has put the new trucks to good use. They’ve already covered more than 17,000 kilometres and reduced the company’s GHG emissions by 9.8 metric tons — an early step towards its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Real routes! Real freight! Canada's Purolator and Day & Ross take on 11 U.S. companies in three-week electric trucking demo starting todayPurolator driver Alexander Schaumann alongside the delivery company’s electric truck. Source: Run on Less Electric

When asked how its entry came about, Purolator’s Courtney Reistetter, senior manager, corporate communications, told Electric Autonomy Canada in an e-mail: “NACFE reached out to us about the event this year to tell us that the focus of the event was on battery electric trucks in commercial freight transportation — we were interested as we just launched our first set of EVs in Vancouver.” The electric delivery vehicles are supplied by Motiv, which integrates its Electric Power Intelligent Chassis (EPIC) with a Ford F-59 platform.

They’re part of an overall Purolator fleet of 307 hybrid-electric vehicles, 3,140 courier vehicles, 182 straight trucks, 2,005 trailers and 522 tractors. Reistetter stated that, “This Run On Less collaboration will help us measure performance and learn more about key opportunities as we deploy electric vehicles in our network for last-mile deliveries.” Purolator selected as its driver Alexander Schaumann of Vancouver, with 15 years of driving experience, to lead its entry in the demonstration.

More information about the Canadian entrants as well as their 11 U.S. competitors can be found in a profile series on the Run On Less website.