Pharmaceutical retailer Duane Reade is expanding its use of electric trucks, adding 10 trucks built by Smith Electric Vehicles to its New York City delivery fleet.
That brings the total number of electric trucks operated by Duane Reade to 14 vehicles, about a quarter of its fleet, said Charles Hayward, fleet operations manager.
The battery-powered SEV trucks will save one million diesel fuel miles and cut Duane Reade’s greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent, Hayward said.
That equates to a 75 percent reduction in fuel costs per truck, he said. The drug store chain will have one of the largest fleets of electric trucks in New York.
“We’re not kidding around anymore,” said Hayward. The company purchased its first four electric trucks from Milea Truck Sales in the Bronx in 2010.
“We will have more electric trucks in New York than Frito-Lay, though they’re still the biggest (electric truck operator) nationwide,” Hayward said.
At 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, Duane Reade’s trucks are the biggest electric units in the city, Hayward said. “We maxed the chassis out.”
The trucks charge overnight at Duane Reade’s warehouse in Maspeth, Queens — the “geographic center” of the city’s five boroughs, according to Hayward. From Maspeth, the retailer supplies 255 stores in the New York City area.
The Walgreens subsidiary is working with Mission Electric, a non-profit multi-city partnership, to plug into public support for electric vehicles.
New Yorkers can vote for which stores should be served by an electric truck using an interactive map on Mission Electric’s Web site, nyc.missionelectric.org.
“Our missions is to show that electric cars and trucks work,” said Asaf Selinger, project manager. In New York, more delivery fleets are going electric, he said.
“If you want to get rid of pollution, fleets are a great place to start,” Selinger said.
“In a city, when you have a truck that says, ‘breathe easy’ and you can correlate the brand with the message, you get PR street cred,” he said.
Many city fleets have optimized routes and return trucks to central facilities each night. That makes it easier to convert from fueling to charging, said Selinger.
Duane Reade considered other alternative fuels, including compressed natural gas, Hayward said, but decided drawing power from the grid was the best option.
“We were offered the opportunity to put a (CNG) fueling station on our premises, if we paid for it. I said no thanks,” said Hayward.