Kuehne + Nagel (K+N) is operating two Carrier Transicold engineless refrigeration systems on its Whitbread contract to test out their environmental and performance capabilities.

The multi-temperature units are fitted to an 18-tonne Mercedes-Benz Econic and a 26-tonne Daf CF and feature low-noise, Piek-compliant technology suited to urban areas.

They run entirely on hydro-electric power generated by the trucks’ Euro-6 engines – removing the need for a separate diesel engine.

Carrier Transicold said this helps reduce environmental impact by cutting emissions and improving fuel efficiency, whilst also reducing maintenance costs.

Both units have been specified with R452A refrigerant, which has the same cooling capacity, fuel efficiency, reliability and refrigerant charge as R404A, but offers a 45% reduction in Global Warming Potential (the measurement used to show the different environmental impact of gases).

“Within the lifetime of these vehicles, fleets in major cities are going to be facing stricter rules surrounding vehicle emissions,” said Andrew Blake, K+N national distribution manager.

"After consulting with [hire firm] Petit Forestier, we felt it was the perfect time to put Carrier Transicold’s new engineless transport refrigeration technology to the test.”

Both vehicles are in daily operation in a busy urban environment, transporting a mix of ambient, chilled, and frozen produce to the Whitbread-owned Premier Inn chain.

The Daf is based in Wellingborough and delivers into Birmingham and Nottingham, both of which will include a Clean Air Zone by 2020;  the Econic – which allows the driver to sit much lower than in a conventional distribution truck – operates in London, which will enforce the country’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone by 2019.

Whitbread logistics director Brodie McMillan said: “If these units deliver the benefits we’re expecting, Kuehne + Nagel will be looking to introduce the same technology into our delivery fleet, reducing the environmental impact of our vehicles and helping to improve air quality.”