In the spotlight: Reynolds Catering: Electric fridge trailer


Reynolds Catering Supplies is putting an electric urban reefer trailer into service with a rechargeable battery box and solar panels.

Reynolds Catering Supplies will this week put an innovative zero-emission urban fridge trailer on the road. The 11m Gray & Adams-built electric reefer features an Electra-supplied 62kWh rechargeable battery box, mounted in the middle of the chassis. Via an inverter, this powers a standard Frigoblock EK25 electric fridge. To back it up, SuperFlex solar panels mounted on the trailer’s roof push out between 250V and 500V.

Commenting on his decision to build the trailer, which has taken 18 months to come to fruition, Reynolds’ head of fleet Steve White says: “We wanted quieter night-time deliveries for London, and obviously, we wanted to be as green as possible.”


Initial tests

Prior to putting it on the road and before the solar panels were connected, Reynolds conducted some initial tests. The electric fridge was left to run for 10 hours, with one compartment at -26C and another at 3C, with the door being opened frequently to simulate deliveries. This showed that 18% of the battery was used without any solar assistance.

“So we can basically run it for five days without having to recharge,” says White, who is optimistic that when the solar panels are connected, it will rarely need to be plugged into the mains.

He has also been impressed with the trailer’s pull-down rate, which is quicker than initially expected. “There’s a boost setting that can reduce the temperature from 17C to 1C in eight minutes,” explains White. In addition to a distribution setting, which operates at the standard 85dB, the fridge also has a whisper mode, making it ideal for night-time deliveries. According to White, this sounds like a fan and is considerably quieter than a truck on tickover.


Safety features

In addition to its green credentials, Reynolds also takes safety seriously, and this vehicle was specced with the well-being of both its drivers and vulnerable road users in mind. At the front is a low-entry Econic tractor, which White says is perfect for multidrop deliveries in London. Drivers get an unrivalled view of their surroundings, and are able to enter and exit the truck via a kerbside bus-style concertina door. Access to the trailer is simple too, with doors on either side, both featuring fold-down steps and secure handrails. The cabs are equipped with inward and outward-facing SmartDrive windscreen-mounted cameras, and Sentinel cameras have been fitted along the length of the vehicle. Vulnerable road users are alerted to left turns by illuminated and audible warnings, and banksman lights aid reversing in the dark.


World first?

“Although it has taken longer than I had hoped, it’s great to finally get this project over the line,” says White, who believes it to be the world’s first electric trailer. Following the success of this vehicle, he is already toying with the idea of electrifying all five urban trailers on the Reynolds - fleet, and is also considering converting some tri-axle trailers. While this initial trailer will be coupled to one of Reynolds’ diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz Econic tractor units, White’s ultimate aim will be to pull it with a zero-emission version. At the moment, however, there isn’t one available.

Freight in the City is the must-attend event for anyone involved in making urban logistics cleaner, safer, quieter or more efficient. This free event is taking place at Alexandra Palace, London on 6 November. Click here for more information and to get your free tickets.

Hyundai to put 1,600 hydrogen trucks on the road over the next 5 years


Hyundai has confirmed it will put 1,600 hydrogen fuel cell trucks on the road in Switzerland in the next five years, and plans to sell them in various other European countries too.

The 4x2 and 6x2 H2 XCIENT rigid trucks, the first 50 of which will hit Swiss roads in 2020, will be supplied though Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility (HMM), a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Company and H2 Energy. They will be powered by 100% green hydrogen produced by Hydrospider, a collaboration between Alpiq, H2 Energy and Linde.

The business model will see Swiss hauliers taking the trucks on eight-year contracts, paying on a per-km basis.

Mark Freymuller, president of commercial vehicle eco-friendly business development at Hyundai Motor, said the fee includes the truck, maintenance, battery replacement and hydrogen supply. He added that HMM will establish a fuelling infrastructure using existing fuel stations to keep costs down, so “solving the age-old chicken and egg problem”.

Hyundai H2 XCIENT 4x2 - technical specifications

  • GVW: 19 tonnes
  • GTW: 34 tonnes
  • Motor: 350kW
  • Fuel cell: 190kW
  • Range: 400km
  • Hydrogen tank size: 34.5kg
  • Time to refuel: 8 mins

While HMM will attempt to make the trucks as cost-effective as possible, chairman of H2 Energy Rolf Huber acknowledged that in most cases, the trucks will have a slightly higher TCO than equivalent diesel units. “If you’re looking for the cheapest truck, this probably isn’t it,” he admitted, though he stressed that the more miles a customer covers, the smaller the gap in cost will be.

According to Freymuller, the first batch of 50 trucks all have hauliers waiting, and he sees no issue with finding customers for the other 1,550 due by 2025. The company is talking to potential customers in the Netherlands, Austria, Germany and France, and expects to expand out of Switzerland in 2020, he added.

Huber said the countries with financial incentives for operating clean trucks are the key target.

One problem the company faces is setting up an aftersales network. It has already ruled out piggybacking on the car network and is looking for European partners.

Edward Lee, executive vice-president of Hyundai Motor Co’s CV business division, said: “We believe this is the fuel for the next 100 years, and Hyundai will be the biggest player. This is the core business for our company.”

Freight in the City is the must-attend event for anyone involved in making urban logistics cleaner, safer, quieter or more efficient. This free event is taking place at Alexandra Palace, London on 6 November. Click here for more information and to get your free tickets.