Thermo King’s electrification ambitions

London, UK: Francesco Incalza, vice president product management and marketing at Thermo King, talks electrification and low-emission vehicles in the latest issue of Cold Chain News.

Francesco Incalza, vice president product management and marketing at Thermo King

Q: What exactly does Thermo King mean by electrification?
We have long considered it our responsibility to design and manufacture sustainable products for our customers. Our goal is to offer low-to-zero emission transport refrigeration products with a flexible, power-agnostic architecture for our truck and trailer products. Today, we lead the industry in electrification and offer the largest range of zero, low-emissions solutions in all segments of the market. By 2025, 65% of our product portfolio will be electrified and by 2030, 95% of our portfolio will be electrified to include our truck, trailer, marine, rail and air solutions.

Q: Can you outline how you are attempting to improve the efficiencies and environmental footprint of your diesel-powered products with electric stand-by options, hybrid options, and full-electric options

Product innovation, reliability, increased uptime, total cost of ownership, optimal efficiency and customer expectations have always been the concepts that drive us – more than 80% of our year-on-year investments are focused on new product development and new technology innovation in the electrification space.

All units in our truck and trailer portfolio have standby option capability. This allows the reefer to switch to electric mode when the external power source is connected, therefore eliminating the need to run the diesel engine when the vehicle is parked. When the vehicle is on the road, we also have an alternative drive option.

Our truck and trailer hybrid units leverage the Frigoblock technology and the trailer refrigeration units (TRU) stand-by option to use the power coming from the vehicle’s engine and switch from diesel into electric mode whenever necessary.

Finally, for vehicles without combustion engines, like the small and medium electric trucks, we have solutions like our fully electric E-200 unit, which is truly a zero-emission refrigerated transport solution. We are continuously looking at alternatives to minimize the use of the diesel engine, and we design our conventional units to burn less fuel, use less energy and reduce emissions. All our truck and trailer, diesel-engine units are fully compliant with the latest Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) Stage V regulation, which specifies the emission requirements, with no compromise on performance or reliability.

Q: What will these improvements mean in practice?
Total cost of ownership is critical to our customers. Operating the in-hybrid mode can deliver substantial fuel and emission savings.

The SLXi Hybrid trailer solution, when compared with standard diesel, multi-temperature unit offers a reduction of 5,000 liters of fuel per year and emission reduction of 13.500 kg CO2 (standard multi-temperature unit running a multiple drop schedule and requiring 3.5 litres of diesel per hour, multiplied by 2700 hours per year). Our customers, even on routes where they are not entering low-emission zones, use the hybrid mode for the obvious bottom-line benefits.

Q: What are the main drivers towards low carbon operation, is it operators needing to have something new to offer in order to win new business or will this be driven by legislation?

For the last decade, we have focused on three things: Increasing product efficiency, transitioning to next-generation, low GWP refrigerants, and investing in pathways that further reduce climate impacts.

In 2014, Ingersoll Rand publicly committed to increase its energy efficiency and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) related to its operations and products.
• 50% reduction in GHG refrigerant footprint of its products by 2020 and lower-GWP alternatives across its portfolio by 2030;
• $500 million investment in product-related research and development to fund long-term GHG reduction;
• 35% reduction in the greenhouse gas footprint of its own operations by 2020

We’re proud to share that we achieved most of our goals ahead of schedule and have already shared our 2030 sustainability goals. As one example, we are committed to reducing our customers’ carbon footprint by 1 gigaton of CO2 through our HVAC and transport refrigeration products and services. For size and scale, that’s equivalent to the annual emissions of Italy, France and the U.K. combined.

Q: When will electric systems match the price of a traditional diesel unit?

This should happen in the next few years. But even today, while the initial investment costs of electric solutions remain higher, our customers recognise it’s the total cost of ownership that has an impact on their bottom line.


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