- McDonald's Canada has added its first electric vehicle to its distribution fleet, a Volvo VNR Electric Class 8 tractor. The EV will undergo a trial run delivering food to Montreal-area restaurants, the company announced last week.
- The zero-tailpipe emission tractor will be based out of a Montreal distribution center for Martin Brower, which is leasing the tractor as the supply chain distribution partner of McDonald's Canada. The tractor will pull McDonald's-branded trailers for deliveries within a 150 kilometer range.
- The testing location presents ideal conditions for Martin Brower to demonstrate the battery-electric drivetrain and components in the summer and the snow and ice of a Montreal winter, according to a Volvo Trucks North America news release.
Major companies are inching toward more electrified fleets as they sharpen their focus on sustainability. McDonald's has pledged to reach net zero emissions across its global operations by 2050.
"This trial has the potential to influence a major shift in the way we approach supply chain distribution that will bring us closer to reaching McDonald's net zero goals," said Jacques Mignault, president and CEO of McDonald's Canada, in a statement. "Considering the potential impact the trial could have on our business and our global greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments, this is an extremely significant moment for the company."
McDonald's will have to shake up its current transportation operations to reach its net zero goal. McDonald's global logistics network transports food more than 250 million miles annually, according to a 2021 company report. Scope 3 emissions for McDonald's, which include transportation and logistics, totaled 53.7 million metric tons in 2020, up from 49.8 million in 2015.
McDonald's is working with suppliers to reduce mileage and fuel consumption by increasing alternative fuel use and implementing "continuous routing improvements, innovations like engineless cooling and air deflectors, and ongoing driver training," it said in the report.
McDonald's Canada plans to transition its fleet to lower-emission vehicles "where feasible" to service its more than 1,400 restaurants, according to the news release. This could include replacing additional diesel-powered vehicles in other Canadian markets with alternative-fuel vehicles. Another Volvo VNR trial is planned in Brampton, Ontario, later this year.
Upfront costs and the need for more charging infrastructure remain hurdles for companies pursuing large-scale fleet electrification. Martin Brower has installed onsite charging infrastructure to make sure the Volvo VNR tractor can support daily deliveries in its testing.
"By integrating the Volvo VNR Electric tractor into our fleet, we will gain valuable experience for future zero-tailpipe emission tractor deployments that will enable us to continue driving down Martin Brower's greenhouse gas emissions so we can meet our sustainability targets," said Julie Dell'Aniello, president of Martin Brower Canada, in Volvo's news release.
McDonald's is one of several companies making use of Volvo electric tractors of late. Container shipping giant Maersk announced in March that it would order 110 additional VNR Electric Class 8 trucks, and in 2021 Volvo delivered Albertsons' first electric Class 8 trucks for local deliveries in Southern California.