Asda Launches Fleet of New Carbon Fibre Delivery Vehicles

The company has launched a new fleet of home delivery vans which will aim to drive down carbon emissions and reduce the number of miles driven.

The new carbon fibre fleet has a 10% improvement in miles per gallon and with an increased capacity inside, the 25 vans can delivery to more customers, reducing the miles on the road and cutting carbon emissions. In addition, Asda’s new vans have been insulated using 5,500 recycled plastic water bottles which have made them 300kgs lighter than the standard model.

Due to the weight savings made the vehicle’s payload is boosted by almost 50% compared to similar vehicles meaning more goods can be carried per vehicle, per journey. While significant improvements in fuel economy too, thanks to the aerodynamic technologies applied to the design.

The launch is the result of more than 10 years of research by British engineering firm Penso and a £16.3 million investment – half from Penso and half from government matched-funding via the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) and Innovate UK. This has helped to fund the installation of a flexible automated robot assembly line housed in a brand new 50,000 square foot facility.

From the outset, we knew carbon fibre was going to be the solution, but we also knew others had tried this approach previously, and because it was eye-wateringly expensive – partly due to the lengthy and complex production process to manufacture each part – the costs simply hadn’t stacked up.

In order to get the costs down the company constructed the bodies using the same sandwich panel technology they had used to create a press formed composite rail door for the London Underground. By moving away from manufacturing parts in an autoclave, and press forming the panels instead, they could cut the time it takes to construct each part from hours to minutes.

The newly created robot assembly line could create a finished body every 42 minutes, much quicker than the two-weeks a typical manual build takes with carbon fibre composites. The new van bodies have a 10-year lifespan (and structural warranty) and can be moved to a new chassis after 5 years, which makes them compatible with future electric and hybrid vehicles.

With these savings in fuel, labour and operating costs, Penso estimates that a typical supermarket fleet could save up to £6,700 per van, per year. Asda will be putting these vans on the road throughout the country focussing on areas where drivers have increased mileage to reach customers in remote areas such as parts of the East Coast.

This latest move is part of Asda’s commitment to making carbon reduction a priority across the business as it looks to tackle climate change. The retailer has already reduced its energy usage by 20% in stores and uses the same amount of energy as it did in 2005, despite its estate being 200% bigger.