Blakemore eHGV

The first fully electric Heavy Goods Vehicles (eHGVs) have been delivered under the Electric Freightway programme to Spar wholesaler AF Blakemore & Son, which specialises in the retail and foodservice sectors. 

Electric Freightway is part of the Zero Emission HGV and Infrastructure Demonstrator Programme and will run until 2030. Funded by the Department for Transport and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK, it is attempting to lay the foundations for a nationwide charging network for electric trucks.

Blakemore is one of 33 consortium members taking part in the pioneering plan to decarbonise the nation’s heavy goods transport. The programme is being led by electric vehicle charging specialist, Gridserve, alongside principal partner Hitachi ZeroCarbon having responsibility for all vehicle data collection, analysis and reporting. Gridserve is leading the £100 million+ consortium (including £62.7m of UK government support) to lay the foundations for Electric Freightway, described as one of the biggest and most advanced charging networks designed specifically for electric Heavy Goods Vehicles (eHGVs). 

Blakemore’s current delivery fleet comprises 103 articulated units with 178 trailers and 130 rigid HGV vehicles. The two Volvo FM Electric tractor units, supplied by Hartshorne Group and Volvo Trucks, represent a huge statement of intent for the company and are already operating from its Bedford depot.

Each vehicle features a 540kWh battery and three electric motors delivering 675bhp and a maximum 185-mile range, enabling them to directly replace roles that were previously performed by diesel-powered trucks. Blakemore estimates their inclusion to the fleet will save 45,000 litres of diesel and prevent more than 120 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) being emitted into the atmosphere each year.

The data from the vehicles, collected by Hitachi ZeroCarbon, will include battery state of charge and health, vehicle load, geography and terrain, and weather and seasonal impacts, which will provide Blakemore with a clear understanding of eHGV compatibility on existing routes and total cost of ownership compared to diesel HGVs.

In a second phase, two further eHGVs will be purchased under the Electric Freightway programme to operate from its central distribution centre in Willenhall, West Midlands, further demonstrating the company’s commitment to developing a zero emissions fleet.

Blakemore’s responsible business director, Caoire Blakemore, said: “We are thrilled to be at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution in the convenience retail sector. The addition of these electric HGVs demonstrates our commitment to reducing our environmental impact. We believe this is just the beginning of our journey towards becoming a net zero carbon company by 2040 and we are excited to see the positive impact these vehicles will have on our operations and the environment.”

Sam Clarke, chief vehicle oficer at Gridserve, added: “This is a proud day for everybody involved in the Electric Freightway programme and very soon, Gridserve will be installing the depot charging that will support these impressive trucks. AF Blakemore & Son has such a deep understanding of retail, wholesale and foodservice, but it’s their enviable values-led culture that makes them a perfect consortium partner. We’re looking forward to supporting their decarbonisation journey and hope that others will follow their lead.”

Alistair Barnes, senior programme manager at Innovate UK, said: “We are proud to support the Electric Freightway programme alongside the Department for Transport, and it is fantastic to help companies like A.F. Blakemore & Son play their part in the UK’s world-leading plans to decarbonise our vital transport network and share learning.”