With 103 stores and two distribution centers across seven states, Wegmans’ geographic footprint continues to grow, while also taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint. One of the measures to achieve this is through a focus on maintaining a well-tuned, efficient fleet. The stars of that fleet: a pair of new CNG trucks, equipped with near-zero NOx emissions Cummins engines, and one, featuring a Hyliion hybrid CNG system for increased power.
“Compressed natural gas is a key component of our fleet management strategy to reduce emissions and our dependency on diesel fuel, an initiative that has been in place since 2014,” said Matt Harris, Wegmans Fleet Maintenance Department Manager. “Our early model CNG trucks were everything we hoped they would be from a diesel reduction standpoint. However, it was clear that if we wanted to continue to increase the ratio of CNG trucks in our fleet, improvements in the trucks’ performance were needed.”
Just months after bringing CNG to the Rochester fleet, the Wegmans transportation department partnered with Hyliion, a leader in electrified powertrain solutions for Class 8 commercial vehicles, to retrofit an existing CNG truck with an electric drive axle. The goal: give the truck the power it would need to make pulling tandems possible. After testing the system, it was clear it was a viable option.
For more than two-and-half years, Wegmans has worked to build a CNG-powered truck that offers the power, performance, range, and driver comforts that allow for a completely reimagined, diesel-free fleet. Both Volvo CNG trucks offer a completely different transmission for improved shifting performance, as well as nicer comforts for drivers in the cab. The trucks’ CNG systems, built by Agility and filled with fuel from American Natural Gas (ANG) eliminate range anxiety with a 30% increase in fuel capacity over the older models, which puts them on par with any of the company’s diesel trucks.
The first Volvo CNG truck added to Wegmans’ fleet was designed to improve upon the older CNG models and to be used exclusively for pulling a single trailer. The second is a hybrid Volvo truck with a Hyliion hybrid CNG system, a true performance game changer that gives the vehicle enough torque and horsepower to pull a tandem set. As the first-ever Volvo truck fitted with this system, the two engineering teams worked together on the design and installation of the electric drive axle. While tweaks have been needed along the way, the truck can now consistently and confidently pull tandem trailer sets.
“What we’ve accomplished over the last several years with Hyliion, ANG, and most recently Volvo, allows us to completely rethink the makeup of our fleet, how we run it, and shows the rest of the industry what’s possible with the right combination of technologies,” added Harris.
Wegmans is currently operating 19 NGVs in its fleet of nearly 175 trucks, and two of those are equipped with the Hyliion system for tandem use. The company plans to increase their overall number of NGVs in 2021, while continuing to make a case for more widespread use of tandem trailer application CNG trucks in the future.