Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund grant goes to Eastland Group for New Zealand-first heavy electric vehicle trial
A future where logging trucks and other heavy vehicles are quiet, cheap to run and environmentally friendly? That’s the possibility that Gisborne-based infrastructure company Eastland Group is about to explore, with co-funding from the government.
Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods announced this week that Eastland Group has been awarded $177,000 from the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, administered by EECA.
The grant will go towards the purchase of New Zealand’s first all-electric water truck, which will be used to suppress dust at Eastland Port and log yards around Gisborne. But the project has larger ambitions: it will gather data on the vehicle’s economic and environmental benefits, and showcase electric innovation to logistics businesses and the public across the central North Island.
Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd says the project is part of the organisation’s wider strategy around emerging technologies and the electrification of the transport fleet.
“Along with the port, our businesses include geothermal power plants in Kawerau and lines company Eastland Network. We also have a significant shareholding in retailer Flick Electric Co. Through Electric Village, New Zealand’s first community-focused energy hub, we’re promoting the testing and uptake of EVs in all forms.”
Last year, with support from the fund and Eastland Group’s shareholder Eastland Community Trust, Eastland Group established a region-wide network of high speed electric vehicle chargers.
They previously committed to ensuring at least 75 percent of their non-commercial vehicle fleet would be electric by 2019 – a goal they’ve reached a year ahead of schedule.
The next step is to rigorously investigate the potential of electric heavy vehicles within the infrastructure sector. At the moment this is largely unproven, due to the lack of data and technology available.
“We’ve identified an immediate opportunity at the port,” says Mr Todd. “The EECA CO2 emissions calculator showed that our current diesel water truck produces a sobering 0.77 tonnes of CO2 in just 35 days, so this new truck will have an immediate impact in reducing our emissions.
“We’ll also be trialling it on a number of other transport tasks. Logging trucks, for example, are a major contributor to the region’s noise and environmental pollution. We envisage a future where these, and other heavy vehicles in the logistics and marine sectors, move from internal combustion engines to electric models.
“A range of economic and environmental advantages will follow. And from there, the whole community benefits. If a water truck can be electric, what else might be possible within diesel-dominated industries? We’re intending to find out.”
The project cost has been scoped at $379,000, and includes the purchase of an electric terminal tractor and an on-site charging point. The vehicle is expected to be delivered and operational by the end of the year.