South Africa was recently introduced to the first electric truck to come into the country, the Fuso eCanter, designed and manufactured by Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC), part of the Daimler Group’s global commercial vehicles business.
Unfortunately, it was only here for a short visit to tie in with a report on the progress of SAB and AB InBev’s Renewable Energy campaign. It is not yet available in South Africa and we’re not too sure when it will arrive as a permanent resident. What we do know, however, is that the eCanter has a definite future role to play in South Africa – and particularly in SAB and AB InBev’s renewable energy plans.
At a media event staged at the Chamdor brewery – where you are welcomed by a clever sign saying ‘Welcome to our Home, Bru” – Tarryn Rosekilly, vice president, Procurement and Sustainability for SAB and AB InBev Africa, spelt out that AB InBev’s global renewable energy commitment is that 50% of its purchased electricity will come from renewable energy sources by 2020 and 100% by 2025.
“We’ve achieved our 50% target in key markets across the globe ahead of schedule and we are well on track to achieve our 100% ambition with good progress being made in Africa,” she said.
It’s a multi-billion Rand project and the good news is that by the end of this month, the company’s breweries across South Africa will have on-site solar facilities. According to Rosekilly, the energy generated by these systems typically represents 10 to 15% of each site’s requirements.
SAB and AB InBev Africa is in the process of working on a Pan African Renewable Energy tender which seeks to source an equivalent of 440 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity in order to meet the 2025 target in Africa.
“This represents an initial investment of approximately R5.6-billion for installation at these facilities, which would be invested by the business’s development partners, with a further R12.4-billion in energy cost that would be committed by AB InBev over a 20-year period,” she said.
She stressed, however, that to reach the 100% goal, they will need to source from off-site renewable energy facilities as well.
“Unfortunately, within the confines of existing policy, this is proving to be a challenging task. What is required are partnerships with utilities such as Eskom, energy regulators and the government to define a regulatory framework that will support the private sector companies, such as SAB, in their ability to generate power off-site. It would also support Eskom’s current challenges by reducing our grid-electricity demands freeing up capacity for other users,” she said.
Rosekilly didn’t say it, so I’m going to. “C’mon President Ramaphosa – get it moving.”
The objective of all this is two-fold for SAB and AB InBev. Firstly, to build supply security to its operations and secondly, to help the company drive down its overall carbon footprint to support its contribution to global climate goals. And this is where the Fuso eCanter can play a massive role.
The 7,5ton model on display has a battery capacity of 82.8 kWh and a payload capacity of 4,125kg. What is most important, however, is that it has zero emissions and when eventually in operation at SAB and AB InBev Africa, can be powered up from the solar power installations at the various breweries. So there are zero emissions in and zero out.
Its range is not huge – between 120 to 120kms – but this makes it ideally suitable for in-city and township multiple drops, a big part of SAB’s distribution operations. And no-one is going to moan about it using up the scant supply of Eskom electricity as it will be recharged using solar power installed at the various breweries. Gee man, this will be South Africa’s Shebeen King.
Speaking at the event, Ziyad Gaba, Head of Fuso Trucks Southern Africa, said: “Our aim as Fuso has always been to come up with progressive but simplified transport solutions that are at the forefront of our customers’ evolving needs where efficiency, versatility and sustainability are concerned. As Original Equipment Manufacturers, we all have a role to play in providing environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions for all who keep our world moving.”
He added that the commitment made by AB InBev not only demonstrates a step in the right direction but also true vision and leadership that is key to shaping our present and future.
This particular model is currently operating in multiple countries overseas including Germany, Japan and Portugal. Let’s make the next stop South Africa. It’s just the ‘when’ that needs to be determined.
(FleetWatch will take a closer look at this story in our next eMag. Look out for it.)