Geodis and Renault in urban electric truck team-up

By Categories: NewsPublished On: Tuesday 22 March 2022

Renault Trucks and Geodis, the global logistics subsidiary of French railway operator SNCF, are collaborating to design an electric truck specifically for urban distribution work.

The ambition is to provide a design that meets the requirements of city-centre freight transport at a cost comparable to that of a diesel vehicle.

Renault Trucks and Geodis maintain that the urban logistics industry will continue to be dominated by vehicles of over 3.5-tonnes gross weight for reasons of load standardisation, hence a wholesale transfer to small vans or novel vehicles such as freight cycles is impractical.

With a complete range of electric vehicles manufactured in France ranging from 3.1 to 26 tonnes, Renault Trucks has been working for ten years on reducing the environmental footprint of city logistics. Geodis, which aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, has undertaken to provide carbon-free deliveries to 37 cities in France by 2023.

Through this new collaboration, Renault Trucks and Geodis taking this a step further and combining their know-how to develop a brand new 16-tonne electric urban truck under the code name Project Oxygen, at a comparable cost of ownership to that of a diesel vehicle, which is a prerequisite for the widespread adoption of alternative power units.

Marie-Christine Lombard, chief executive officer of Geodis, said: “The environmental emergency combined with the growth of e-Commerce and the implementation of low-emission zones in major French cities mean that we urgently need to step up the decarbonisation of transport. This is the objective of Geodis in forming this partnership with Renault Trucks. We want to quickly provide concrete answers to the issue of sustainable urban logistics.”

Bruno Blin, president of Renault Trucks, added: “We have noticed that the image of the truck is changing; at last, it is being perceived as an indispensable tool. The purpose of the project, in which Renault Trucks is working alongside Geodis, is to design a truck that will seamlessly blend into the urban landscape, among other road users in areas with traffic and even in pedestrian zones. This new truck will be designed for the driver’s working comfort and safety, and for the safety of city dwellers.”

Project Oxygen will integrate all the requirements and functions of city-centre delivery, say the companies, such as elimination of nuisances such as pollution and noise, and improvement of active and passive safety in order to better co-exist with all road users including pedestrians and cyclists.

In the early phases of work, focal areas were identified including improved safety for the driver and the public thanks to a lowered cab giving the driver an excellent direct view for optimal protection of road users; a large windscreen and multiple cameras instead of rear-view mirrors, offering a 360° view; and a sliding side door on the passenger side which eliminates the risk of the door opening into pedestrian areas.

Further areas of focus identified include greater comfort for the driver, who will be able to get out of the truck on either side. Climbing in and out of the truck will be made easier by a much lower access height than on a standard delivery truck.

In addition, the project will prioritise optimal ergonomics and easier access to the cargo space. A specialist bodybuilder will develop an innovative body installation to improve loading/unloading operations in the urban environment.

Connected tools will be incorporated, enabling drivers to optimise their delivery operations

To ensure that the vehicle “blends into the urban landscape perfectly” and with comfort considerations in mind, Renault Trucks designers have completely redesigned both the exterior lines of the truck and the interior of the cab.

Delivery of the prototype is scheduled for the end of 2022. It will be produced at Renault Trucks’ site in Blainville-sur-Orne, France, the first European plant to manufacture series production electric trucks.

The truck will be trialled for urban deliveries in Paris, starting in 2023. This real-world testing will be followed by a phase of adaptation of the vehicle incorporating feedback from drivers covering comfort of use, practicality, recharging, etc., and then by a study to optimise the total cost of ownership and to identify other possible applications for the concept.