Two white VMC 1200 electric trucks parked at a Lafarge EV charging station
Lafarge Canada recently took delivery of two VMC 1200 electric trucks, made by Vicinity Motor Corp., as the first step in a plan to electrify Lafarge’s light-duty fleet in western Canada. Photo: Lafarge Canada

The move by Canada’s largest cement and concrete producer links EV adoption to a company-wide effort to reduce carbon emissions

Lafarge Canada has added two all-electric trucks to its fleet in western Canada, part of a wider effort to curb on-site carbon emissions.

In July, Lafarge, Canada’s largest maker of concrete and cement, announced that it had purchased a pair of custom-built VMC 1200 trucks from Vicinity Motor Corp., a Langley-based electric truck and bus manufacturer, for deployment at its aggregates and ready-mix operations in B.C.

Lafarge, which has nearly 7,000 employees across the country, also said it plans to add additional VMC electric trucks throughout 2024. It’s aiming for a full conversion of its light-duty fleet in western Canada to EVs or hybrid-electric by 2025.

“The benefits of this electrification effort are twofold, delivering cost savings and contributing to a reduction in scope 1 emissions on site,” said Brad Kohl, president and CEO of Lafarge Canada (West), in a press release announcing the deal.

“Each VMC 1200 truck is estimated to reduce site emissions related to transportation by 6,200 kg of CO2 annually.”

Heavy carbon emitters

Cement making is a carbon-intensive industry accounting for eight per cent of worldwide carbon emissions annually. That puts a big onus on global leaders like Lafarge, a division of Swiss multinational The Holcim Group, which has set a verified Science Based Targets initiative net-zero-by-2050 target, to decarbonize operations across the board.

Enter the VMC 1200. It runs on 150 kWh of power and can travel up to 240 kilometres on a single charge.

According to Lincoln Kyne, Lafarge’s BC Market senior vice president, the customized version that Vicinity built for Lafarge has a payload of more than 2,700 kilograms, which will help Lafarge carry large construction tools like welders and cranes. 

“VMC really answered that call for us,” Kyne says, in an interview with Electric Autonomy. “The drive train system is well designed, focused on simplicity, and supported here in British Columbia. So, we can support a British Columbia industry, making British Columbia trucks.”

The two electric trucks Lafarge bought were among a total of 34 VMC 1200 trucks that Vicinity delivered to customers in the second quarter of this year.

EV charger rollout

Lafarge first disclosed its plans to electrify its western fleet last summer. At the same time it announced the opening of its first four EV charging stations in Canada, at a concrete plant in Vancouver.

At that time, it also said it was aiming to install 100 charging stations in facilities from B.C. to Manitoba. Those stations will power trucks and light-duty fleet vehicles and for use by employees who drive EVs.

White electric VMC truck (foreground) in a large quarry with mountains in background
The VMC 1200. It runs on 150 kWh of power and can travel up to 240 kilometres on a single charge. Photo: Lafarge Canada

This March, Lafarge announced a second charger installation — two chargers with fast-charge capabilities at its Innovation Hub in Edmonton’s Winterburn industrial district.

Lately, however, Kyne says a backlogged supply chain has tempered Lafarge’s near-term electrification expectations.

“It comes back to what is available in the market, what is appropriate … and the availability of the suppliers,” he says.

Kyne adds that Lafarge has looked outside of North American-made vehicles to meet its needs.

Global commitment

Earlier this year, Holcim announced a deal with Volvo to ramp up EV usage at its European facilities. The agreement will see 1,000 Volvo EVs rolled out by 2030. The first batch of trucks are scheduled to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Kyne says that agreement shows Holcim and Lafarge’s commitment to electrifying all vehicles — from light-duty commuter cars to heavy-duty trucks.

“As a company, we act locally to really focus on our own carbon emissions — scope one, two, and three,” Kyne says.

“Electrification of our fleet is obviously a piece of that, and something actionable that we can take.”