What's the best way to make a future with zero-emission city logistics a reality? That's the question Quehenberger Logistics have been asking themselves, which is why they are testing one of the new MAN TGM 26.360E in Salzburg.
A fleet of almost 600 vehicles, all of which fulfil the Euro 6 standard and use exclusively biodiesel when operating within Austria, plus eco training for every driver - with these measures Quehenberger is already off to a good start when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions. But that is not enough for Austria’s market leader in retail logistics, who delivers to subsidiaries and shops in areas of high population density all over Europe. The need for an ever-growing flow of commodities calls for a complete transformation of urban distribution transport.
For Quehenberger’s CEO Christian Fürstaller, the future of city logistics lies in electromobility. He believes that electric vehicles are ideally suited for urban distribution transport. According to him, being a family business comes with a certain sense responsibility for future generations. Which is why reducing the adverse effects on the climate and the environment caused by traffic and becoming less dependent on fossil fuels are core tasks in his eyes. This is the reason why Quehenberger Logistics is a member of Austria’s council for sustainable logistics (CNL) and is taking part in the MAN eTruck field test.
The MAN TGM 26.360E that Quehenberger has been testing since mid September 2018 is based on a chassis with a folding lifting platform for accommodating swap bodies. Currently, it is mainly used for deliveries to various branches of the Austrian health and beauty retailer dm within the city of Salzburg. This combination is a perfect match, since sustainability is also an essential part of dm’s company philosophy.
With driver Bernd Stangl from Quehenberger Logistics behind the wheel, the MAN eTruck is in experienced hands. He has been working as a professional driver for over 20 years and joined Quehenberger as a delivery driver around five years ago. “It’s always interesting to try something new, isn’t it? And for me personally, it’s also exciting to have the opportunity to give my own feedback for the further development of these vehicles, which can certainly be a bit critical at times,” the 50 year old test driver explains as his motivation for participating in the field test.
Before getting behind the wheel of the eTGM, Bernd Stangl was driving a conventional MAN, meaning he can draw a good comparison. A very positive distinction: The extremely powerful drive of the eTruck. The 26-tonne eTGM is usually fully loaded for its daily rounds but never reaches its permissible gross weight. “It makes excellent headway, I have to say,” says Bernd with a grin and a wink.
The round of 180 kilometres is no match for the eTGM, even though it has to stop at quite a few loading points and use the electric lifting ramp at almost all of them. “Initially, we were planning the rounds quite conservatively and slowly increased the range. One customer at a time, basically. The vehicle is perfectly suited for this kind of use,” says Bernd.
Gaining experience with the alternative drive solution even before series production is very important for Quehenberger, for ecological as well as purely pragmatic reasons: On the one hand, it offers the opportunity to be actively involved in the development process in a pioneering role. On the other hand, the company aims to gain political and economic momentum by taking positive action. For example, using noise-free vehicles could open up the opportunity to make deliveries outside of peak times, which could elevate some of the burden on inner-city traffic but which has to be approved by legislation first. Furthermore, successful tests are indispensable for strengthening the trust in electric vehicles and thus increase demand. This is the foundation for large scale series production and creates more economic conditions for each vehicle in the long term.
The eTGM certainly creates a lot of interest. Apart from testing the eTruck during day-to-day delivery runs, Bernd has also had another job since the start of the test: “I am constantly being approached by people. They are really curious. They read “I am an eTruck” and immediately start with the questions. How far can it go? Really fully electric? Does that really work?” Soon enough, even more of his colleagues will have to stand up to this kind of questioning - at the beginning of 2019, Quehenberger Logistics are taking on three MAN eTGE electric transporters.