Meijer in industry first with all-electric semitrucks

Meijer is the first retailer to run all-electric semitrucks in a cold weather environment.
Meijer is  deploying two of the first all-electric semitrucks outside of California.
Meijer is  deploying two of the first all-electric semitrucks outside of California.

Meijer is the first retailer to run all-electric semitrucks in a cold weather environment.

The company, which operates one of the largest fleets in Michigan with 250 semitrucks, is deploying two of the first all-electric semitrucks outside of California.  It is also the first retailer nationwide to track the performance of the semitrucks (Freightliner eCascadia) in a cold weather environment as part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Meijer received the battery electric semitrucks earlier this month and celebrated their inaugural delivery  with a more than 44,000-pound food donation to Gleaners Community Food Bank in Detroit. The two semis will operate out of the retailer's distribution center in Lansing, Mich., which has been equipped with specific charging infrastructure.

The trucks will make multiple deliveries daily to Meijer supercenters within a 200-mile trip range of the  distribution center.

Meijer became a test fleet for Freightliner in 2009 and was selected in 2019 to test the manufacturer's battery electric semitrucks. After a successful conclusion of testing and integration of customer feedback in the design and development process, Freightliner is now rolling out the series produced battery electric truck to customers, including Meijer that received the first delivery.

The retailer's trucks were partially funded by a grant to DTNA from the U.S. Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Office geared toward the demonstration of battery electric commercial trucks under diverse climate conditions. Meijer will continue reviewing data daily for temperature impact on mileage, charge times, battery life optimization and driver comfort.

"Through this partnership, we can help accelerate the industry's transformation to electrification by applying valuable insights from data collected and real-world applications in a cold climate environment and make a meaningful difference when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Mike Graham, senior VP of supply chain and manufacturing for Meijer. "We're pleased to work with Freightliner to further put the eCascadia tractors into real-world applications outside of southern California as we look for solutions to achieve zero emissions."

Freightliner's new battery electric eCascadia truck is the zero-emission version of the industry-leading Cascadia and is designed for short-haul routes that allow for depot-based charging. Extensive development and rigorous testing through several prototypes and customer-tested trucks resulted in a powerful and efficient electric truck with multiple battery and drive axle options, providing a typical range of 230 miles, depending on vehicle configurations.

With time being of the essence, a maximum battery capacity of almost 440 kWh can recharge 80 percent of the truck in approximately 90 minutes. To increase safety for traffic participants, especially in urban environments, the 82,000-pound (GCW) Class 8 truck comes standard with Detroit Assurance with Active Brake Assist 5 and debuts the Active Side Guard Assist (ASGA). The ASGA is an industry-first technology that engages at urban speeds of 12 mph or less to mitigate the truck from making a right turn when a moving cyclist or pedestrian is detected on the passenger side of the truck.

Based in Grand Rapids, Mich., Meijer operates 499 supercenters, neighborhood markets and Express locations throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin.   The company is scheduled to debut a new concept, Meijer Grocery, in late January.