Wegmans is on a sustainability mission that has the grocer rethinking its entire transportation fleet.
We’re “looking at ways to eliminate diesel anywhere we can,” says Wegmans’ Matt Harris, sustainability manager for energy and fleet technology in a new video on the company’s website. The Rochester, N.Y.-based grocer says it has switched its focus from diesel efficiency to diesel elimination through the use of alternative fuels, electrification and collaborative partnerships with technology suppliers.
Today, Wegmans has 175 trucks, 16 compressed natural gas (CNG) tractors, and another 49 on order. The impact of those CNG trucks “will change our footprint in Rochester from 80% diesel to 80% natural gas. That’s nearly 800,000 gallons of diesel eliminated annually,” adds Harris.
Through its partnerships, including one recently forged with Hyliion, Harris says Wegmans is exploring new technologies with the ultimate goal of having a fleet that is net carbon zero or net carbon negative, if possible. Hyliion’s Hypertruck ERX—a next-generation electric powertrain that’s recharged by an onboard natural gas generator—has the potential, through renewable natural gas, to be a net carbon negative vehicle, says the company.
“It’s allowed us to use a natural gas-powered vehicle coupled with an electric drive axle,” notes Harris of the Hyliion partnership. “This truck can actually pull tandem trailers north of 120,000 pounds down the freeway. I think we have the first truck that runs on natural gas that can do that.
“With three fully-electric class eight truck pilots planned for next year, we’re excited about what the future holds, and hopeful that as more and more of these technologies become available, we’ll be able to fit them into our operations,” says Harris.