rear corner view of Coca-Cola Canada bottling vehicle
Coca-Cola Bottling Ltd has selected three Ford E-Transits to replace gasoline-powered vans that were used to service Coke’s vending and refrigeration equipment for customers in the Greater Montreal area. Photo: Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Ltd

Three electric Ford E-Transit vans will be in service for Coca-Cola Canada Bottling as part of an almost year-long pilot project in the Greater Montreal area

Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Limited announced it has launched a pilot project in Quebec to test three electric light-duty vans in its fleet. This is the first time the company has experimented with fully electric vehicles.

Coke Canada Bottling has selected three Ford E-Transits to replace gasoline-powered vans that were used to service Coke’s vending and refrigeration equipment for customers in the Greater Montreal area.

“Light duty vehicles are a good starting point as the market for electric vans is further developed and this pilot will allow us to understand the operational benefits and challenges of electrification,” says a Coke Canada Bottling spokesperson in an email exchange with Electric Autonomy Canada. “The E-Transit is a vehicle that meets the range and capacity requirements of our equipment service business in an urban market.”

Coke Canada Bottling is an independent, family-owned business based in Toronto. It operates in all 10 provinces and produces, sells and distributes a full range of Coke-owned beverages. The company has a total fleet of 275 light-duty vehicles across Canada, with 25 just in the Montreal area.

The goal of the pilot is to study the electric vans’ capabilities and feasibility in all types of climates while fulfilling the same duty cycle as combustion-powered Coke fleet vehicles.

Coke will install electric vehicle chargers at their facilities in Montreal and at the residences of some of their employees to evaluate the differences in depot and overnight home charging.

Pending the outcome of this pilot, which will run until March 2023, Coke says it will expand the project elsewhere in the country.

Carbon reduction commitments

While Coke Canada has made no public commitment about fully electrifying its fleet, generally the company has been taking small steps toward reducing its carbon footprint.

“As part of Coke Canada’s Toward A Better Future Together Sustainability Strategy, we are working towards achieving our goals in five priority areas: climate, water, packaging, sourcing, and community. We have made a commitment to reduce our absolute carbon emissions by 27.5 per cent by 2030,” says the spokesperson.

Over a decade ago, the company introduced hybrid-electric delivery vehicles that were put into service in Vancouver, London, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. The fleet included 15 hybrid single-axle tractors, 20 side-bay trucks and two straight trucks, which were manufactured by Kenworth in Sainte-Therese, Quebec. Coke says that compared to standard tractors, their hybrid trucks burned around 30 per cent less fuel and emitted 30 per cent fewer emissions. 

Most recently, Coke also teamed up with Oakville, Ont.-based mobile diesel fuel delivery company 4Refuel Energy in June to test the use of B20 biofuels that are derived from plants or animals. All Coke trucks manufactured after 2012 will undergo B20 biofuel testing at 4Refuel’s facilities in Richmond, Brampton, Edmonton and Calgary.

The use of biofuels in these four locations will help reduce around 1400 tonnes of CO2 per year, which is the same as eliminating 300 vehicles from the road, says Coke. It will also lower Cokes direct emissions by 4 per cent.

“We know we have work to do to decrease the emissions from our fleet and we’re considering everything from electrification to biofuels and options like hydrogen. We’re building a business with sustainability at the foundation of our future and are looking to work with suppliers who are leading the change in these areas to help us do it,” says the spokesperson.