MT editor Steve Hobson, JLP fleet engineer David Wake, and Colin Melvin, sales director of sponsor Fraikin

John Lewis Partnership (JLP) has committed to a carbon-zero commercial vehicle fleet by 2045. To deliver reductions in CO2 emissions in the interim, it is working towards moving away from fossil fuels and aims to make the entire fleet fossil fuel-free by the early 2030s.

The fleet currently includes 600 heavy trucks, 750 refrigerated trailers, 1,750 home delivery vans and light trucks, and 20 farm vehicles.

JLP began trials of two Waitrose-branded, biomethane-fuelled Scania 4x2 tractors in 2016, followed by a further 83 biomethane vehicles from 2017 to 2019. Another 143 biomethane trucks are scheduled to enter service in 2020 and by 2028, all 600 JLP heavy trucks will be biomethane.

JLP has also taken steps to reduce CO2 emissions by using telematics and aerodynamically optimised trailers to lower fuel consumption.

It is also working on a plan to eliminate fossil fuels from its home delivery fleet by the early 2030s, based on electric vehicle manufacturer Arrival's Generation 2 concept and other vehicles.

The first of these was due to begin trials in the summer, with four bespoke JLP-owned vehicles being delivered in January 2021 on a three-year evaluation. A seven year roll-out is targeted in which the entire home delivery fleet will be electrified.

JLP is trialling an additional alternator on its biomethane vehicles to provide electrical power for its refrigerated trailer units, too. Thirteen tractor units are currently trialling this equipment. By 2030, all refrigeration units could be electrically powered.

JLP intends to begin the transition to electrically powered trucks in 2035, with full electrification completed by 2045, at which point carbon-zero operation will be achieved. The transition is likely to take place in stages, beginning with batteries and range extenders through to full electrification via e-highways, and overnight and opportunity charging facilities.

The judges said the retail business was showing “truly exceptional commitment to road freight decarbonisation and innovation, and that it had clear, well researched long-term plans and options for continuous improvement”.

"We’re delighted to win this award. I’m really going to have my work cut out putting the John Lewis plan in place but it’s going to be fast paced and exciting. It’s a huge task and a big commitment to try to do that in 10 years but we’re looking forward to it. We’ve always been at the forefront of this kind of thing." 

David Wake