New Zealand dairy cooperative, Fonterra has officially launched the country’s first electric milk tanker.

Named ‘Milk-E’ by a Fonterra farmer, the truck is is part of Fonterra’s efforts to decarbonise its fleet and overall sustainability strategy.

The company said that it was investigating if the vehicle may be the first of its kind in the world.

The electric milk tanker will operate out of the processor’s Waitoa site on New Zealand’s north island.

More than 100 years ago, the site was home to the country’s largest fleet of electric milk trucks.

The modern vehicle is around the same size as a regular tanker, operating at 46T (gross vehicle mass) with the trailer.

It has capacity to carry 28,000L of milk but due to the tanker being heavier with the battery it will carry 2,300L less to comply with road weight restrictions.

It has a range of about 140km on a full charge which takes about three hours. The team will operate on a battery swap system, which takes around six minutes, so the vehicle can remain working.

The cab and chassis are from a Chinese construction machinery group; it then took the Fonterra team 36 days to fit the milk tank, compared to 27 days for a standard tanker, due to the new technology involved.

Image: Fonterra

An electric pump on the driver’s side has reduced the pipework on the truck by over 3m, reducing tare weight.

Safety has been improved on the vehicle through newly designed doors that open out sideways with minimal moving parts.

Fonterra added that the need for a hydraulic tank and pump has been removed and a fully electric motor and pump has been installed.

Fonterra chief operating officer, Fraser Whineray said that the co-op is constantly looking at ways to decrease its emissions from farms, to processing sites, through to its transport network.

“It’s been great to see the team turn challenges into opportunities so in addition to trialling Milk-E’s on-road ability, we’re also trialling a new electric pump, hose configuration and cabinetry,” he said.