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Marks & Spencer to Buy Newton Electric Trucks

Marks & Spencer, the major UK retailer, will buy a number of Newton electric delivery trucks from Smith Electric Vehicles, owned by the Tanfield Group. Marks & Spencer will use the Newton vehicles in various city center logistics operations, with a view to Smith vehicles replacing Marks & Spencer’s urban diesel fleet where pertinent.

The 7.5 tonne Newton truck uses four Zebra 278V batteries. Fully charged, the vehicle has a range of 130 miles and a top speed of 50 mph.

We are delighted to be one of the first major companies in the UK to explore the opportunities zero emission vehicles bring. The Newton electric vehicle is not only environmentally friendly but cost-effective and its quietness makes it perfect for deliveries in residential areas.

Marks & Spencer recently announced Plan A, our 100 point eco-plan [earlier post], which will see us become Carbon Neutral within five years. Zero emission vehicles such as the Newton could potentially play a large role in helping us meet that commitment.

—Ian Mumby, Head of Food Logistics and Supply Chain, Marks & Spencer

TNT Express and TNT Logistics are also testing out Newton models in their oeprations. If the trials proves successful, TNT will consider adding 200 additional zero emission vehicles to its fleet to serve in other urban locations in the UK. (Earlier post.)

Smith Electric Vehicles is also working on 3.5-, 9- and 12-tonne elecric trucks.



I think electric vehicles have great potential, but let's quit calling them zero emission vehicles unless the electricity that runs them is fueled by sources like the wind or the sun.

Even hydro is suspect.


poster number 1 sounds like a spoiled child.

Electric vehicles ARE zev's. They didn't say zero emission utility.

Or, I suppose the disclaimer would have to look something like this:

Except that MY utility uses 20% nuclear, 40% coal, 25% natgas, 15% wind EXCEPT in the winter when the wind is blowing harder and then wind is 16.5% BUT in the summer you have to back the wind down to 8% but you have to take the Natgas up to 30% because of airconditioning. That is for CA, all the other states to follow:.........

Rafael Seidl

t -

I agree, it would be more intellectually honest to call them zero tailpipe emission vehicles (ZTEV), since electricity has to be generated somehow. Fortunately, there are many options for that, most of them thermodynamically superior and featuring lower CO2 emissions than on-board ICEs on a well-to-wheels basis. They also offer the prospect of decreased dependence on OPEC to meet strategy energy needs.

The only reasons we're not all driving around in BEVs already are the volume, weight and cost of batteries yielding adequate power, range and longevity. For MDV trucks featuring low-mileage diurnal cycles in stop-and-go traffic, Zebra batteries are the best currently available technology - though Tesla's commodity Li-ion pack is a near-term alternative. In both cases, an additional small ultracapacitor bank would improve on recuperation efficiency and extend battery longevity via peak shaving.


The real only reason is that we fell asleep after the hostage crisis and let "big oil" lull us into complacency. Can you just imagine where we would be today if we had stuck to the effort? Humankind often seems much less intelligent than we like to believe.


Rick. Nice flame. Stick to the facts.

The reason this is important is that, although BEVs will probably be an improvement over the ICE, we need to realize that we will not eliminate global warming just by virtue of the fact that we drive EVs. We need to move beyond EVs by cutting our use of the auto, regardless of the ultimate power source. Just because we might drive EVs does not make us exempt from the impact that the auto imposes and will impose on our society and our planet.

I hardly see how the term "spoiled child" is relevant in this context.


dont knock it too much , its a step in the right direction


I suppose we should shut down the entire global economy while we retool the biggest industry on the planet. Business is slowly taking over the business of Green and it will not look Utopian. It will be practical and profitable and since it involves money and lots of it, it will not come at a pace that suits a handwringing green, sitting in a cubicle in the suburbs.

I suppose you noticed the commitment by Bank of America toward hybrids. I'm sure you have a problem with it because the hybrids spew out more carbon than an electric but that is a major commitment of, do the math, $500,000,000, and it IS progress whether it suits you or not. It will provide base load economies of scale to ramp up the engineering and manufacturing to advance the efficiencies and march us steadily in that direction. The climate in the business world IS changing and they will actually DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT athough probably not enough to suit a guy on the sidelines like you.

Harvey D.


When you compare all the (Sands to Wheel) GHG produced by ICE delivery trucks using liquid fuel extracted from Tar sands this BEV delivery truck represents enormous improvement, and more so where electricity comes from Wind + Sun + Hydro.

This is a win-win-win-win.... vehicle = less fossil fuel (imported oil), less GHG, less noise, less maintenance and much cheaper to operate etc....

These BEV delivery vehicles should also enjoy negative yearly registration fees, (i.e. up to -$5000? instead of + $5000?) + free parking in all major cities.

Lost in revenues could be compensated by an increase in yearly registration + parking fees on gas guzzlers. London will do it.

John Latusek

While the negative posters are arguing among themselves, Tanfield are out there winning orders and getting electric trucks on to the roads in Britain, and soon in Europe. Another UK company (Modec) also has electric trucks on the road. They are being bought not just to win eco-credibilty, but because in lower maintenace and running costs, they repay their higher initial outlay within 7 years. Companies like Tesco, Marks&Spencer, Starbucks, TNT Express, are buying them because they make economic sense AND contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions.

Carry on squabbling among yourselves if you wish. As a shareholder in Tanfield, and as a green campaigner (yes including at the power station end of the chain, and in pressing for more localised generation) I am happy with the news story above.


Rick. You are not sure about anything when it comes to where I am coming from. I own a Prius. This is clearly an improvement. A BEV will probably be an improvement over a Prius. It's all good. However, I just made the accurate comment that it is wrong to call BEVs zero emission. Whether or not that applies to the tailpipe is besides the point. We should do all those things that will move us in the right direction, but we must also keep in mind the scale of the problem when it comes to increasing worldwide auto ownership, destruction of farmland, resource shortages, etc. BEV may be a step in the right direction, but it does not represent a panacea or a free lunch.

When an economical, reliable, reasonably priced EV comes out that meets my needs, I will probably buy one. In the mean time, the offerings primarily include toy cars or outrageously expensive EVs like the Tesla. Everyday, I look for signs that we are making progress and I devoutly hope that we do. But I will still try to minimize its use regardless of its improved utility.

Harvey D. The EV may turn out to be a win win, but let us not pretend that it represents zero emissions. We also need to consider the cost, life cycle, and energy cost of the batteries associated with it.

Let us also hope that M&S isn't assuming zero emissions when they come down to calculating whether they have reached carbon neutrality.

We need to pursure EVs, but we can do without the hype. Zero emissions is hype.

John Latusek

Zero Emission, in reference to the VEHICLE, is perfectly honest terminology if the vehicle is emitting zero pollutants, which is the case.

The emissions being quarrelled about here are not from the vehicles themselves. The vehicles are fine - go focus on the bit that isn't fine and attack that instead of attacking the vehicle which is itself already as good as it currently can be. Rubbishing something that's right instead of fixing what's wrong is sheer scapegoating.

I applaud the progress being made in the face of such carping, and I look forward to eventually replacing my own petrol car with an electric one when it expires. Meanwhile I shall cheer each electric vehicle I see and shall dismiss these cumudgeons. Good luck to Smith, Modec, Phoenix et al. The future is electric and the tide will sweep away these dreary critics who never will applaud anything if they can find an excuse not to ;o)

bill borsheim

t...You are a spoiled child. Just like other naysayers have in the past, you trot out your Prius to prove your environmental sincerity. But you speak one point of truth(yes, end-point emissions isn't zero if the consolidated electrical powerplant is brought into consideration) & say nothing at all of great EV benefits. If Internal Combustion Engines(ICE's) immediately could be replaced with fully capable working Electrical Engines(like they will have 10 or 20 years from now), poor children & people living next to freeways would see an immediate & great improvement in their health. With your Prius in your garage & your bank account functional, I suspect your home is not 40 feet away from a freeway. Spoiled? Yes you are, for not saying anything of this immediate benefit to the poor.


The fact that you used the word "probably" in describing the improvement of a BEV over a hybrid shows how little you actually understand the business. Go back to your cube and get a clue.........

To the Tanfield investor: Great! The London AIM is scooping up a lot of energy companies that should be listed here. It's a SarBox issue that we will deal with. We're getting there and we will probably buy you out before the end of the decade. Cheers!

Bill Young

I look forward to the availability of Newton trucks in the US. Unfortunately, I don't think it will happen until the price of fossil transportation fuels fully reflect the societal cost they are imposing.

It appears that fuel costs in the UK approach the electric transport tipping point. This is particularly true in London which really stacks the deck in favor of automotive electric vehicles.

Does anyone know what, if any, the additional incentives are in London for zero emissions tailpipe trucks?


Guys, the tone is getting decidedly nasty. Play nicely in the sandbox please.

Henry Gibson

Since the over all efficiency of stationary powerplants is at least quadruple that of automobile engines, and since the emissions from said plants are closely monitored, the total CO2 emissions from an electric vehicle, even if the power plants burn coal, are a small fraction of the emissions from a petrol automobile.

The Zebra Battery, brought to a high level of power and efficiency by BETARD UK, is also very efficient and requires no maintenance. If attached to a cable winch of its own weight, the Zebra battery could pull itself and winch 10 to 15 KM into the sky at 30 kmh. Unfortunately the SPACE-LIFT is not yet available for the test.

In Norway much, or even most of the power is from Hydro electric. Hydro-electric plants emit a lot of water which is the major greenhouse gas, but the new electric vehicles of Marks&Spenser do not emit any gasses of any kind themselves. The storage resevoirs for hydropower may be emitting large amounts of methane and CO2 from the decomposing organic materials that flow in. The drivers for Marks etc. breathe out carbon dioxide and water. It is actually possible to buy hydropower from Norway in the UK; it may go a long way around and be mixed with dirty power from the UK.

The lowest greenhouse gas emissions are from Nuclear power plants, and France sells a lot of Nuclear power to the UK because France did not believe that North Sea gas was forever and converted most of its generation from oil to nuclear.

Queen Victoria was about as radioactive as Canute and you are not much, if any, more radioactive than either. The potassium in every bit of good food you eat, except refined sugar and refined fats, is radioactive, but is only half as radioactive as it was when the earth was created. Much of your radioactive exposure comes from space or from the earth. There is enough uranium in some kinds of granite to make it a possible energy source if uranium multiplied its price like oil has. Uranium and Thorium both produce radon which seeps from the ground into our buildings. A gas cooker feeds radon direct into the room when the methane is burnt. Almost every square meter of the earths surface contains measurable uranium and thorium from the begining of the earth.

If there had been no Nuclear Bombs, no Nuclear power plants; this fact could not be determined by measuring your own radioactive exposure for your entire life. Natural radioactive exposures are far the largest source. If you sleep every night with a 100kg wood post or a 100kg person you will increase your radioactive exposure by 5% to 10%. Granite blocks are worse. One hundred kg of refined petrol has about the lowest radioactivity that can found anywhere in the universe.

I know of ways to make a zero emission car that runs on diesel or petrol, but producing shipping and refining those fuels probably produces as much green house gas as does the coal powered generating station, per mile traveled. If all of the carbon released to the air for the delivery of one liter of petrol to your vehicle were calculated, including all of the natural gas flared off and the producing and transporation and refining energy use, it might be equal to the amount delivered.

If the electrical energy for the Zebra powered electric vehicle came from a cogeneration, building or district heating plant, the carbon release attributable to the electricity is a small fraction of that of burning petrol in a similar vehicle. In fact burning the same petrol in a small efficient cogeneration instalation of your own would result in less than half the contained carbon being attributable to vehicle use. You could even have the engine mounted in the vehicle and pump the heat into the house whilst it was charging the battery at night.

The major problem with electric vehicles and Zebra batteries is that they have to be paid for at first. Also they are not being produced in large enough quantities into a competitive market. You don't pay for your share of a powerplant or the transmission lines or the distribution transformers for your electric service at first, nor do you have to pay for your share of the well drilling equipment, the pipe lines, the ships, the refineries, the sellers tanks and pumps, or the delivery trucks for your first liter of diesel.

A solution is that the power companies lease you the battery on a kilowatt hour used basis plus a monthly fee for the vehicle, and with the proper connections they can use the battery for peak leveling and wind power energy storage.

Hidden, in a easy to forget corner of every electric vehicle, should be an engine powered alternator-rectifier of about 2kw and of cheap construction. It could weigh as little as 4kg(see OPOC and EPC and APT) and would come with a sealed 10 l tank of butanol. Both machine and fuel may never be used during the life of the vehicle, but in large scale production the tank, fuel and machine would cost about $50; too many electric vehicles have been sunk because the perception is, as the TITANIC, not enough life-volts. The butanol will give the heaviest vehicle 20 km range at about 15 kmh and can be replaced with petrol at any dealer for another 20km. An ordinary automobile would get about 100km. The machine, while useable, would pay for itself for advertising purposes, but you might have to shut down the stereo whilst running on reserve. Actualy you can have dinner whilst the reliable Zebras are charging.

henry gibson..

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