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TNT Launches Newton 7.5-Tonne Electric Trucks in London

The Newton in TNT livery.

TNT Express and TNT Logistics, in partnership with Smith Electric Vehicles, has unveiled the world’s first high performance 7.5-tonne zero emission electric vehicles—both Newton models (earlier post)—due to go into service in London.

The Newton uses four Zebra 278V batteries to provide power for an Azure Dynamics drivetrain at speeds of up to 50 mph. Fully charged, the vehicle has a range of 130 miles. It can be re-charged on board or through domestic mains or a standard three-phase socket.

The Newton’s body panels are built from an ultra-light, fully recyclable composite material manufactured by Omnia. This substantially reduces body weight and increases the payload capacity of 4,000kg.

TNT Express’s vehicle will operate from the company’s Barking depot, while the TNT Logistics model will be based at its Starbucks operation in Basildon, Essex.

If the green trial proves successful, TNT will consider adding 200 additional zero emission vehicles to its fleet to serve in other urban locations in the UK. This would result in significantly reduced controlled and CO2 emissions.

TNT has an overall rating of 84 out of a possible 100 on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, the highest recorded score in the Industrial Transportation category in 2006.

We are living in times of great change and the launch of this vehicle represents what TNT is striving for in the 21st Century—to be the cleanest, greenest express, mail and logistics company on the planet.

Global warming is the biggest issue the world is facing today. As a transportation company TNT contributes to this problem. That is why we are constantly looking for ways in which to minimize our CO2 emissions. State-of-the-art electrical vehicles, like the Newton, are a very good alternative to vehicles using fossil fuel, especially in urban areas.

We have every confidence in the technology and, if everything goes to plan it could well pave the way for many, many more similar vehicles for TNT throughout the world.

—Peter Bakker, TNT CEO

The decision to use the zero emission unit came after months of detailed research and analysis focusing on the environmental and cost benefits of the vehicle. Despite deriving 15% of all its electricity requirements from renewable sources, TNT is also seeking to implement a carbon emissions offsetting arrangement in respect of the ground-breaking vehicle, further evidence of the company’s commitment to the preservation of the environment in which it operates.

This is a huge step forward for our fleet. Not only is this one of the most environmentally friendly vehicles on the market, there are also potential significant cost savings in the long-term.

This vehicle is exempt from the London congestion charge—approximately £1,750 a year—incurs no road tax and is battery-driven. It costs just £25 a week to recharge the battery as opposed to £110 spent on fuel for a diesel vehicle.

—Tom Bell, Managing Director TNT Express Services UK & Ireland

Smith Electric Vehicles is the world’s largest manufacturer of road-going commercial electric vehicles.

TNT Express Services is the leading business-to-business express delivery company in the UK & Ireland. With an annual turnover in excess of £750m the company employs 10,600 people in the UK and Ireland, operating more than 3,500 vehicles from over 70 locations.



Wow! over 100 mile range and saves money this is the perfect incity delivery truck. I'd love to see a bus based on this technology for large college campuses, airports,innercity...


Zero emissions? People always seem to gloss over the fact that the nice clean electricity was generated from a dirty old coal fired power plant.

Rafael Seidl

What is so encouraging here is that this is a delivery company. In that industry, customers rarely if ever pay a premium for environmentally responsible service. That means that the fuel savings plus the exemption from the congestion charge together must improve TCO beyond that of conventional diesel trucks, over the anticipated lifetime of these vehicles.

A href="http://www.betard.co.uk/">Zebra battery chemistry is expensive and fairly heavy, compared to NiMH and Li-ion, but it is robust against deep cycling (down to 20% charge), even at high discharge rates and extreme ambient temperatures. Of course, as with all batteries, frequent very deep cycling does reduce battery life expectancy. Also, the battery must be heated, which is efficient only in vehicles such as city buses, delivery trucks, garbage trucks etc. that operate frequently at low speeds for extended periods.

According to ISE Corp., the relatively low power density of Zebra batteries can be masked by pairing them with ultracaps. This improves boost acceleration and recuperation efficiency, at the expense of even higher system complexity. Apparently, Zebra batteries must still be charged slowly from the grid once a week from the grid to maximize service life, though that is obviously not an issue in BEV or PHEV applications.

Thomas Pedersen

In-city delivery trucks like these should be mandatory - at least within some time frame like 5-10 years.

Imagine how much nicer cities would be without the diesel roar of buses and delivery trucks. And that is only a precursor to going all electric within city limits.


For dsl987:
"Zero emissions? People always seem to gloss over the fact that the nice clean electricity was generated from a dirty old coal fired power plant."
What planet are you on. The majority of UK power plants are using Natural Gas not to mention the UK's Nuclear Power Plants. Well I suspect you are posting from the US or China, the worst polluters on our planet.


How much will this truck cost?
I could imagine a fuelcell truck like this costing a couple of million. Actually, they probably wouldn't be able to have enough pickup.

Harvey D.


You are correct.

We are 98% hydro-electric in our region but all our city buses and trucks are diesel and/or gasoline. Our electric city buses and trolleys were sold years ago to make room for dirty diesel buses.

TNT units could help to correct past mistakes but the will is not there yet and people prefer cheaper transport even if it pollutes more. We (Canada) have enough oil and natural gaz for decades and almost nobody wants to pay higher prices for cleaner transport vehicles.

Mass rail, bus and subway transportaion is subsidized at up to 80%, mainly with a 10 cents/Liter fuel tax, and users are still complaining. Most users would refuse to pay one more cent a day for cleaner electric mass transport vehicles.

Most people, specially those using mass transport means, don't realize that dirty old diesel city buses and trucks are a source of GHG and harnmful fine particules. They blame SUVs and luxury cars that they can't afford to buy.

A new Hydro project (Eastmain Rupert River) could reduce GHG by 8 million tonnes/year by supplying clean electricity to Ontario. Pro-Coal fired + natural gaz power plants lobbies have managed to block this project for more than 10 years. It's amazing what money can do against environment.

The same thing will most probably happened against electric city buses and trucks.

Rafael Seidl

George -

(a) this is a straight BEV, no fuel cell in sight.
(b) a couple of million per unit would be way too steep for a for-profit commercial operator.
(c) the article doesn't say if the drivetrain features a mechanical transmission to further improve low-speed acceleration. In general, electric motors deliver a lot of low-end torque anyhow.

Harvey D. -

the UK's domestic oil & gas production are in decline. Domestic coal production was uncompetitive, which is why Margaret Thatcher shut it down. Tony Blair is advocating a return to nuclear power as running a pipeline for Russian gas across the channel is just as difficult/expensive as setting up an LNG infrastructure.


I am a relitivly new viewer of this website, and I appoligize if this has been coverd.

What are we going to do with all of the batteries we are proposing to manufacture for eletric and hybrid viechiles?


"I am a relitivly new viewer of this website, and I appoligize if this has been coverd.

What are we going to do with all of the batteries we are proposing to manufacture for eletric and hybrid viechiles?"

Put them in electric and hybrid vehicles. You answered your own question.



They are gold mines for recyclers. No less then 90% of recycling is anticipated (for NiMh probably 99%)


As a UK resident, coal appears to be increasing as a percentage of our overall grid power use as it is relatively cheap compared to gas at the moment. As for what to do with the used batteries, I would think they could be used as a less intense energy stogage solution for excess wind power or wave power even after they lose their usefulness in a vehicle based application. they could then be recycled after 4 to 5 years. If we had a turn over of 1 million hybrid battery packs per year, each with a useful 8 - 10KWhrs storage capacity, that would be a pontentially vast overall storage potential. Cheers Jim.

Harvey D.


Does England have many other choices? Russian gaz will also run out within a few decades. Local bio-mass is limited by the land mass available.

Beside wind, waves, and solar; nuclear may be the next best approach for local energy production. A mix of all four + sources may ensure enough energy for a few centuries.

Our region of Canada has about 40000 megawatt of hydro power installed and the potential for another 40000 mw. Coupled with wind power, at up to 40%, those two clean, sustainable power sources could peak at about 130 000 +/- megawatt or about 6 + times our current electrical energy consumption. This would be more than enough for 3 PHEVs or EVs per family + 10 000 electric city buses + 100 000 electrci city trucks etc.


Harvey D.

Thank you for your comments. The Major of London Ken Livingston is getting tough on SUV city polluters, by means of increasing the London congestion charge to British Pounds 25.00 a journey, and gradually introduces more environmentally friendly Hybrid or Hydrogen powerd buses for public transport. I'm afraid, taxing people for polluting the planet is the only way fwd.


To Harvey D:

I used to live in Quebec for four years. Although the summer time air was of much better quality than that experienced here in Southern Ontario, where I now reside, it was air quality in the winter in Quebec that is a problem. Many people burn wood in the winter. I know! In our former neighbourhood, everyone used a wood stove. I lived on the second floor of a duplex, at 'chimney level' and it was at times just terrible. Suffering from asthma made matters worse. And all the plastic that you could smell being burned was not good either.


Also here's some numbers on electric consumption.

The Tesla roadster is said to use 0.2 kWh per mile.

So over 100 miles, thats 20 kWh. Now assume we only consume coal, with 40% efficiency, grid trasmission of 95% efficiency and battery efficiency of 80%.

We'll be using 66kWh of energy (in the form of coal) to travel 100 miles.

Now the Tesla's close gasoline counterpart, the Lotus Elise, regularly gets 30mpg(imperial) +.

So over 100 miles it'll consume about 15 litres of gasoline.

At about 9.5kWh (chemical) energy per litre, thats 142kWh of energy in the form of gasoline. And I haven't included refining efficiency, but then I didn't include coal mining energy consumption so its about even.

So you can see that the Tesla consumes less than half (142/66) the raw chemical energy per 100 miles than the Elise.

Now I'd expect a diesel truck, and an electric truck (as again, they're so similar) to have the same kind of energy difference as the Tesla/Elise.

Plus there is the massive benefit of reducing inner city particulate and NOX emmission, and trust me, thats one thing we could really do with in the UK.

So really you're doubling your efficiency and reducing inner city pollution. Win win if you ask me.


Thomas Pedersen

Jim W,

I like your idea! Especially if battery vehicles are implemented on at large scale before renewable energy require massive storage.


Your argument about electric vehicles using dirty coal power is old and without vision for the future. One of the many virtues of electrical vehicles is that they enable a higher fraction of renewable energy than would otherwise have been feasible. If wind turbines, wave power, solar power, etc. are installed at the same (power) rate as electrical vehicles hit the streets, which is entirely possible and feasible, then by enabling zero emission power they become zero emission vehicles.

I should stress that the part about enabling more renewable energy hinges on "intelligent charging" where charging takes place at times of power surplus. Not a problem at all - it hardly qualifies as a technical challenge.


Well done Andy. I would add that point source pollution from a power station is a lot easier to control and regulate than transport emissions. Legislators are talking about how hard it is to place much control over transport GHG emissions, EV's effectively eliminate the problem


Andy: Don't forget that you have better control over emmisions from the stationary power plant (even if it burns coal) than you do over gosoline buring moving cars.


lol Critta you posted faster than I could.

Harvey D.


The world needs 1000 mayors like Ken Livington. London has an exceptional mayor.


You are correct. On cold days, wood stoves pollute more than cars + SUVs, specially with fine particles emissions in Quebec and it seems to be getting worse since electricity rates have gone up 5 times in the last 3 years. Quebec Hydro's huge profits = 3+ billions/year have become another source of taxation-revenues for the provincial government.

It's a shame. Wood being the only tax free renewable (but rather dirty) energy source seems to be gaining over clean (but taxed) electricity as a source of heat for homes and some industries.

The only way to control it would be enforce the use of better wood stoves and fire places + a pollution tax based on pollution created. Too many people would scream, politicians would lose votes, so nothing will be done. We need half a dozen mayor Livingston to fix this problem for us because ours will not touch it for at least 100 years.


Tesla cars also have solar panel options for recharge which makes the coal-fired electricity unnecessary


Thomas Pederson and others,
Excellent response to point on pollution from power plants. Wind is fastest growing source of power. All three forms of solar: PV, CPV, and CST are breaking through peak power threshold in USA, even more so in Southern Europe and Japan. Means huge market in sun belt and further reductions in price...when production rate finally catches up with demand. As result solar it will blow past wind in growth in near future. Faster growth of these sources means we are already in process of converting to renewables.
Solar is not near as good in Britain, but they do have excellent wind and wave resources off of NW coast.
Scottish wave power company web site ->
I really like the use of composites on this vehicle. Amory Lovins at Rocky Mountain Institute has pointed out that weight of vehicles is large part of inefficiency. Composites are lighter and stronger than steel, but expensive change in manufacturing is required. They've used just for flat sides of vehicle. Probably easier to automate manufacturing. Very clever!
Regenerative breaking is larger source of energy loss in delivery trucks, refuse trucks, and buses due to frequent stops and large mass of vehicles. This means opportunity for savings using regenerative braking if vehicles is EV, HEV, or PHEV.
Supercapacitor product for this market ->


"Zebra battery chemistry is expensive and fairly heavy, compared to NiMH and Li-ion".

Not so. Zebra has 120Wh/kg energy density for its 21kWh off the shelf packs, including the controller. Cost is in fact the lowest of all rechargeable battery technologies, except PbA of course. Only 1.53kg of Ni per kWh, coapred to 3 to 6kgs of Ni for NiMH.

Only safe iron phosphate/manganate cathodes will be allowed for automotive LiIon. Same energy density as NiMH basiclaly - maybe 80Wh/kg but then you have to add a very complex controller.

Zebra is hot yes - so no performance problems in cold weather. Standby energy consumption is 90W to keep it hot, only required from 4 hours after shut down since battery temperature rises during operation.

90W is hardly anything - 2.16kWh per day if it's doing nothing or 6 - 8 miles range. NiMH self discharges when doing nothing anyway. Mendrisio trial showed no practical difference between NaNiCl and NiCad.

Power density - just not an issue when you have a 20kWh energy battery. 1998 Zebra powered A Class went like a bat out of hell.


hello everyone,

I am a dutch student and extremly interrested in this concept. Who knows if these vehicles are exported to Holland? And if so, are they permitted to drive on the Dutch roads? In other words, are these vehicles legalized outside the U.K.?

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