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TNT Orders Another 100 Newton Electric Trucks

The TNT Newton.

Business-to-business express delivery company TNT has ordered 100 Newton electric delivery trucks manufactured by Smith Electric Vehicles. This order is in addition to the 50 vehicles ordered last year. (Earlier post.) The new fleet of 7.5 tonne trucks—currently the largest zero-emission fleet in the world—will replace diesel equivalents over the next 18 months.

The first tranche of 50 trucks will initially operate from TNT locations in London, Basildon, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Durham, Edinburgh, Enfield, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Luton, Northampton, Oxford, Paisley, Preston and Wolverhampton. In addition, TNT is also piloting other Smith Electric battery-powered vans and trucks in the Netherlands, with a view to rolling them out across its wider European operations.

We are living in times of great change and the launch of the fleet represents a critical component in what we are striving for—to make TNT the first zero emissions express and mail company.

—Peter Bakker, TNT CEO

TNT Express Services, in partnership with vehicle manufacturers, Smith Electric Vehicles, is unveiling the first trucks in the £7-million (US$13.6-million) fleet at the London Wetland Centre.

The TNT Newtons are powered by four Zebra Z5 sodium nickel chloride 21 kWh batteries, for a combined 84 kWh energy storage system. Each Newton can be fully charged from flat in approximately eight hours, using a standard three-phase industrial electricity supply. Smith also offers a Lithium-ion phosphate storage option from Valence.

The Newtons have a top speed of 50 mph and a range of up to 100 miles.

(A hat-tip to John!)


Stan Wellaway

Excellent news! While so many critics come up with all sorts of excuses as to why we can't have electric vehicles just yet, here is one firm that just gets on with making them and selling them.

They have clearly identified and targeted a market in which the percieved limitations of electric vehicles are actually no disadvantage. Urban and suburban depot-based delivery fleets. They each operate over a known local territory and return to the same depot each night. There are literally tens of thousands of such fleets around the world - so there's plenty to go at.

Every local postal delivery depot works in this way, and those must surely be an ideal market for the smaller Smith Ampere model recently added to the Smith EV range.

John Taylor

~ 50 ordered last year ~
~ 100 bought this year ~
Can we expect 200 to be purchased next year?

Stan Wellaway

JT - Smith apparently already have orders for several hundred more for this year - from an impressive long list of customers, and are about to announce an additional factory site allowing them to ramp up production into several thousands per year.

Mike Thompson (UK)

This would be a good idea in my view if the extra electricity needed to charge the trucks came from coal fired power plants with carbon capture and sequestration and renewables in the UK.
How long will it take to decarbonise the electricity grid in this way? If we are all being urged to save on electricity use to lower GHG emissions does it seem like a good idea for these trucks to be guzzling electricity?

Harvey D

This seems to be what is required for a mid-size quiet electrified school bus?

A lot a people living on school bus routes would enjoy it.

School buses can recharge for extended periods twice a day with no effects on service.


EVs are NOT ZERO EMISSIONS. You're just shifting from one fossil fuel to another. 80% of electricity is still generated from coal and probably always will be.


Mike, The US Congress is currently debating (politicizing) whether to stop adding 70,000 bbl of oil to the strategic reserve each day. It seems to me they could divert that money to subsidizing the purchase of all electric school buses and do a great deal more good.


John, even when the electricity comes from the worst possible source (ie coal at 800 g CO2 per kWh), the electric vehicle will still emit less CO2 than the diesel equivalent.

In reality, grid electricity comes also from a mixture of much lower CO2 emitters (eg gas, nuclear, wind, hydro).

John Taylor

We can compare 100 delivery trucks with 50 Tesla Roadsters, and see the BEV market begin to open up.
The change has begun.

As for our coal fired Electric Grid, this is a quite separate problem, and needs a solution. Blaming E cars because of their non-pollution is counterproductive spin-doctoring. Try to realize that wind solar and geothermal power can become cheaper than coal.


It's no wonder companies like TNT love BEVs. Instead of budgeting on unknown and volatile gas prices, they can budget based on stable electricity costs. In their worst case scenario (local power shortages), they can always put some PVs on the roof of their warehouses.


How long until there are enough EVs getting on the road to start putting a dent into oil demand? Right now there are so few and demand is growing so fast elsewhere this won't even register. It's going to take hundreds of thousands per year. How fast will we get there?

Stan Wellaway

So many negative miserable responses? Jeez!

Offer someomne a zero-emission truck and all they do is whinge about the electricity source. It isn't either/or -- it is perfectly possible to go with electric vehicles AND campaign for cleaner generation. There's no need to reject everything in favour of sticking with dirty diesel and gasoline.

Not that such miserable responses will count for much. Within ten years half the population (including the whingers) will be driving electric cars and loving them. The tide which is running the EV way is unstoppable this time around.

Smith Electric Vehicles can afford to shrug their shoulders and just get on with producing vehicles to meet the burgeoning demand.

Personally I look forward to the day I can buy an all-electric motorhome.


That this is coming from England does not surprize me, it use to be that milk was delivered door to door in electric Milk Floats- -want to guess who made those? That's right, it was Smith Electric Vehicles. The same Smith Electric Vehicles that is making these new electric trucks.


"So many negative miserable responses? Jeez!"

Too many doomers are failing to put their money where their mouth is: commit suicide.

"Personally I look forward to the day I can buy an all-electric motorhome."

Count me in too. One thing at a time though. The current problem is figuring out how to get near the front of the line for the 2009 Ford Escape hybrid.


BEV and PHEV is becoming a new mantra.
I'm happy to see them being encouraged because of their potential, but not to the point of being blind to the drawbacks.

John Taylor: Not to consider the full implications sounds more like spin-doctoring to me.
Clett: I thought studies reported here stated that using electricity sourced from coal power in transportation would increase CO2: too lazy to look so your word is good as mine.
Stan: I would have thought each truck would need to go more than 100 miles per day, so there are still disadvantages.

It's good that the source of pollution is moving from to outside the city.
It will be probably be good that BEV technology is developing because it has the potential to be part of a less polluting system.

John Taylor

@ DavidJ ... Please re-read, to see that I DO consider the implications of a dirty grid, but have a separate set of suggestions for dealing with this problem.
Spin doctoring is bending a situation to make it look as if your preconceived idea is the only obvious solution.

This problem 'a dirty grid' has TWO solutions on the introduction of electric cars
1 ) Toss out the clean cars, and keep up the old dirty system.
2 ) Go full tilt on the new technology of clean cars, and ALSO work on cleaning up the electric grid so we can have a truly clean sustainable future.

I prefer a 'spin doctoring' direction that presents a view towards curing the patient.


JT - yeah and switching over to electric cars can even HELP us in switching over to a clean grid. The idea is Vehicle-to-Grid
where you use storage capacity of BEVs to ease the use of solar/wind power.

Thomas Lankester

OK chaps, just to put the tail-pipe-to-flue-pipe argument to sleep
In 2006 in the UK, where these lorries will actually ply their trade (
coal - 37.5%
gas - 36%
nuclear - 18%
imports - 2% (via the inter-connector from nuclear-electric France)
oil - 1%
renewables - 5.5%

So where the carbon intensity of coal is 239 tonnes per GWh, the UK electricity mix has a weighted average carbon intensity of 130 tonnes per GWh. Using off-peak charging for at least the morning delivery runs makes the effective tonnes of carbon per GWh used for the lorries lower still as they charge with the spinning reserve.

Thomas Lankester

OK chaps, just to put the tail-pipe-to-flue-pipe argument to sleep
In 2006 in the UK, where these lorries will actually ply their trade (
coal - 37.5%
gas - 36%
nuclear - 18%
imports - 2% (via the inter-connector from nuclear-electric France)
oil - 1%
renewables - 5.5%

So where the carbon intensity of coal is 239 tonnes per GWh, the UK electricity mix has a weighted average carbon intensity of 130 tonnes per GWh. Using off-peak charging for at least the morning delivery runs makes the effective tonnes of carbon per GWh used for the lorries lower still as they charge with the spinning reserve.


TNT says they want to be "the first zero-emissions express and mail company".
So I suppose, after buying a lot of electric trucks, they will also install huge wind-turbines. Since part of their motivation is publicity and attracting green customers, that's that's the most obvious extra publicity they can make. There are not much other legally allowed ways of building 150m high advertisement structures.

Just like many other companies are building green-energy infrastructure (partly for publicity reasons) like wallmart and google do, they certainly will convert their electricity source to completely green in the near future.

Consider that any company that uses the cervices of TNT will be able to increase its green character if the image of TNT is green. It will be the best publicity they can get. So even if their green energy would be more expensive, it would probably be the most cost-efective publicity they can make


How is it that this MYTH still hangs around, are some of you just stupid?

MYTH: BEV or PHEV charged by old coal fired plant is just as dirty as normal gasoline car.

Here's a link for you dummies:

Skip to page 7 for the big smack in the face.

Here's a quote from EV World:

"For starters, in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, they generate a fraction that expelled by a normal gasoline engine car. For every gallon of gasoline burned, approximately 22 pounds of CO2, an important global warming gas, are created. If a car gets 25 miles a gallon it will emit 22 pounds of carbon dioxide over that distance, as well as other pollutants. By comparison, an electric car may travel the same distance consuming 5 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electric power at a rate of 200 watt hours/mile. Assuming the local grid is 100% coal-fired, roughly 5 lbs of coal would be consumed to create that 5kWh. Depending on the grade and carbon content of the coal, one kilowatt hour creates approximately 1.4 pounds of CO2. That's 7 pounds of CO2 vs. 22 pounds to travel the same 25 miles. But recall that the power grid isn't entirely coal-fired; it includes hydroelectric, natural gas, nuclear and a small, but growing segment of renewables."

But what really blows my mind about you dummies is the utter lack of common sense on your part. Let's see, you can have a million ICEs, all being maintained by typical consumers (questionable maintenance at best) and basically un-upgradeable as far as C02 or efficiency is concerned, OR you can have one large, regulated, held under the microscope source that is much easier to upgrade as technology allows.

Freakn' DUH!


Different Cars Different Markets.
Gentlemen can we agree on this?
Interesting time to be a motor industry executive, pick the right car for the right market and hit the jackpot.

For Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive of the Renault Nissan partnership, the stakes could not be higher: "We must have zero-emission vehicles. Nothing else will prevent the world from exploding". Such a conflagration for the planet, and presumably for his company, is to be avoided by a rapid and expensive programme of investment in green vehicles. Mr Ghosn wants to see a new generation of fully electric cars that will compete bumper-to-bumper with conventional models for performance, comfort and refinement.

The traditional drawbacks of electric vehicles – as seen on milk floats and little curiosities such as the G-Wiz city car – are a low range and poor cruising speed. (Acceleration is usually surprisingly brisk, as electric motors are usually very "torquey"; but they tend not to get beyond 40mph or be much fun to drive). Renault-Nissan hopes that newer lithium-ion battery technology, of the type seen in laptops, rather than old-fashioned nickel metal hydrides will provide the necessary technical leap forward. The car maker is collaborating with Project Better Place, a Californian firm, to produce a network of all-electric cars and, crucially, thousands of charging points, in Denmark and Israel, which were chosen for their compactness and low average journey lengths.

Ford tried out a similar idea in Norway a few years ago, the Think! project, but it was abandoned for lack of demand. The Project Better Place/Renault scheme should be operational by 2011. Beyond that, Mr Ghosn wants to see his brands, which include Infiniti, a BMW-wannabe "prestige" make, Samsung cars in Korea and Dacia of Romania, offer a complete range of electric vehicles in all territories, with retail sales starting in 2012 with prices from around $25,000 dollars (£12,844).

It is quite a U-turn for Mr Ghosn. In the 1990s he became the most successful auto executive of his generation by turning around two companies that had become basket cases – Renault and Nissan. With fresh models and a new "partnership" approach to merger – so that Nissan retained much of its own culture, engineering and management, despite Renault's controlling 44 per cent stake – a new force in the global industry was forged, almost down to the force of personality of one man. A Brazilian of Lebanese descent, Mr Ghosn's crown has slipped of late, as his companies issued a profit warning last year, and the product-led revival has faltered. Nowhere is this more evident than at Nissan, which began to present itself as a specialist in SUVs, especially in the key North American market, just as they started going out of fashion. Tougher commercial times and the promise of green technologies seem to have propelled Mr Ghosn on to a different road to growth.

But Renault-Nissan is way behind the competition, despite the promise of "commitment" and investment from an improved group profit performance. Renault made €2.7bn (£2.1bn) last year, which would pay for a couple of new model ranges, but perhaps not the revolution Mr Ghosn has in mind.

General Motors' Chevrolet Volt, technically a hybrid but close to being all-electric and unveiled to much applause at the Detroit motor show last year, seems much closer to the market place and the mainstream than Renault's experiments. A remarkable initiative from Nissan with the Indian Mahindra group is to produce a fuel-efficient $2,500 car to rival the Tata Nano in one clear move forwards. Mr Ghosn recognises the environmental danger of billions of Chinese and Indians owning and driving cars.

But overhauling an entire technological infrastructure – the internal combustion engine and the traditional petrol/diesel filling station – is something that Renault long tried to ignore. Even Peugeot, long wedded to diesels and dismissive of new technologies, is changing gear. PSA's boss Christian Streiff has ordered his engineers to prioritise diesel-hybrids.

Toyota and Honda have pioneered usable, reliable petrol hybrid vehicles, which regenerate engine braking effort to provide electric power to move the vehicle silently and cleanly at low speeds and can add an extra boost to the petrol engine when required. Toyota is now developing a "plug in" version of their Prius model, which promises impressively green credentials and a wide range. Honda's FCX Clarity, a family-size saloon that uses revolutionary hydrogen fuel cell technology, will be launched and leased to selected users in California this year. General Motors' electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, promises to normalise the electric car, previously associated with milk floats and tiny bizarre curiosities such as the G-Wiz town car. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and General Motors are jointly developing hybrid passenger cars. Renault-Nissan has arrived late.

A number of alternative technologies will become available to consumers, who can select which ones suite them best. At the top end, it is difficult to see a Ferrari driver being happy with anything less than a traditional V12, or a Bentley with fewer than eight cylinders. City cars might split between electrics and ultra-efficient small petrol or diesel models, such as Volkswagen's "Bluemotion" version of its Polo, which delivers just 99g/km of CO2, beating small electrics when emissions at power stations and the Polo's superior performance are factored in. Larger family cars, executive saloons and people carriers might be best-suited to the hydrogen fuel cell, which needs more room for its gas tank and fuel cells. Smaller family cars might be plug-in hybrids, with the option of running those on bio-fuels, if they can be made greener and more sustainable. Delivery vans could easily go electric, as the Coventry-built Modec, used by Tesco and others for home deliveries, demonstrates.

In the meantime, more and more mass-market cars are becoming available as "green" models, tuned for maximum economy – Ford's Econetic range has joined the VW Bluemotion sub-brand in offering that little bit more greenness and economy for the Focus buyer.

As to the world exploding, much depends on how different technologies are applied. For example, an electric car that used power entirely generated by the burning of coal might be less green than the best small cars of today. As the chart above shows, such vehicles still generate sizeable emissions.

Bio-fuels are fiercely controversial, but so called "second generation" fuels that use the waste from crops rather than the food crops themselves could be much friendlier to the planet than the current crop. Hydrogen fuel cell cars could be fatally compromised, on environmental grounds, if the hydrogen requires too much power to make and transport – and that power is generated using fossil fuels. There are few definitive guides to any of this, but, as the graphic shows, the electric car is probably the one with the greatest potential. So Mr Ghosn may well be right – but he will need to put his foot down.

Stan Wellaway

Whatever became of the "can do" attitude that Americans used to be famed for?

How come they nowadays sit on their collective butt, sniping and moaning and shaking their heads, dreaming up excuses as to why things can't happen, while the Brits and others just get on with doing it.

America is in danger of missing the boat.

These Smith trucks are not prototypes - they are production models, rolling out of the gates onto the highway. Go to their website at and click the Case Studies button.

The r-EV-olution is under way.


"Personally I look forward to the day I can buy an all-electric motorhome."

Sign me up too, ASAP and please cover the roof and awning of mine with PV.

"School buses can recharge for extended periods twice a day with no effects on service."

Very good point. Often a lot of sun to power bus yard PV during that same mid day recharging period.

"80% of electricity is still generated from coal and probably always will be."

Planning to use coal, oil, nukes or any other finite energy source "always" as in forever, is indulging in delusion at the expense of future generations.


Wow, shouldn't we watch this trend more carefully? This could be a climate catastrophy in the making. How CO2 intensive are these trucks?

Just imagine China doing this, that would be a real disaster.

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