- Wegmans, in partnership with Hyliion, has added a truck powered by compressed natural gas to its fleet equipped with the Hyliion Hybrid CNG system, allowing it to pull tandem trailer sets — a task previously only possible with Wegmans’ diesel trucks. According to Wegmans, it is "the first-ever Volvo truck fitted with the system."
- The grocer also added a second Volvo CNG truck to its fleet, without the Hyliion powertrain. The Volvo trucks come equipped with near-zero NOx emissions Cummins engines. The CNG trucks can stay in service between two to five years longer than diesel vehicles.
- Wegmans has 19 CNG trucks in operation, out of a total of almost 175 trucks overall. Two are equipped with the Hyliion system, one first-generation truck along with the latest addition.
Wegmans is one of a number of companies that have recently made moves to switch their fleets to greener technologies.
UPS began converting trucks to RNG in 2013 and, in 2019, made one fo the largest purchases of RNG in the U.S. Anheuser-Busch announced in August it would convert 180 trucks — 30% of its fleet — to renewable natural gas. Around the same time, Nikola sold a minimum of 2,500 electric trucks to waste company Republic Services.
Anheuser-Busch has made moves for electric trucks, too. In 2017, it placed an order for 40 Tesla Semi trucks. Food distributor Sysco for put in an order for 50. And Albertsons ordered 10 to its Southern California fleet, while Walmart ordered 40 as part of its plan to have its Canadian operations rely exclusively on alternative power by this year.
Wegmans’ CNG-powered tandem-trailer configuration could act as a model for grocery distribution vehicles as the chain moves away from diesel.
“Historically, one of the biggest limitations with the CNG driveline, which holds true for our first-generation CNG trucks, is its lower horsepower and torque output that limits the amount of weight you can haul. In Wegmans’s case, this is important because we often pull tandem trailer sets on the Thruway, and that requires a lot of power," Matt Harris, the company's fleet maintenance department manager, said in a statement.
So, the grocer brought in Hyliion to retrofit a CNG truck with an electric drive axle to test it out, Wegmans said. Though it showed it could work, the company still wanted to upgrade the first-generation trucks' transmission and fuel capacity. That's when the company turned to Volvo.
"Both Volvo CNG trucks offer a completely different transmission for improved shifting performance, as well as nicer comforts for our drivers in the cab," Wegmans said in its announcement. "The trucks’ CNG systems, built by Agility and filled with fuel from our NYS CNG partner, American Natural Gas, eliminate range anxiety with a 30 percent increase in fuel capacity over the older models, which puts them on par with any of our diesel trucks."
The CNG trucks, compared to their diesel equivalent, produce less carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide. And although the greener trucks have a more expensive purchase price than diesel trucks, Wegmans said it is seeing, on average, 65% fuel cost savings per CNG truck and expects to keep them in service up to 10 years.
The addition of CNG trucks to Wegmans’ fleet is part of the company’s long-term strategy to reduce its carbon footprint, which has yielded a more than 10% reduction in its emissions since 2014.
Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified Matt Harris. He is Wegmans' fleet maintenance department manager.