TMC20: Wabash, C&S Wholesale Grocers to put zero-emissions refrigerated trailer on California highways

Wabash zero emissions reefer trailer

Wabash National is pushing the boundaries of thermal capabilities with what it is
calling a zero-emissions refrigerated trailer. The unit, produced for customer
C&S Wholesale Grocers, is being shown this week at the American Trucking
Associations’ (ATA) Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) annual meeting in

“We’ve seen
a lot of prototype and concept electric vehicles and trailers over the years,
but no one has yet to demonstrate real viability of a roadworthy zero-emissions
tractor-trailer for refrigerated hauls due to the location and size of
batteries,” Robert Lane, Wabash National’s vice president of product
innovations, said. “This is the first time a major box innovation has been
coupled with a major TRU [transport refrigeration unit] innovation that results
in breakthrough customer value in a sustainable format. MSC [molded structural
composite] provides a unique platform for electric-powered TRUs. The large gain
in thermal efficiencies allows a customer to either downsize the batteries
required to haul cargo or increase the run time on a battery setup.”

Using MSC
technology, Wabash said it is able to make the 48-foot trailer 30% more
thermally efficient than a traditional refrigerated trailer. The result is that
refrigeration units can run fewer hours and for all-electric units, that means
smaller batteries.

putting units into our fleet that depend heavily on solar and battery power for
the truck and TRU,” said Chris Trajkovski, vice president of fleet maintenance
and DOT safety compliance at C&S Wholesale Grocers. “We think the
additional protection that comes from the Wabash MSC insulation package will be
a nice match for the TRU technology so the reefer is not running, to help us
make the delivery efficiently. We expect the TRU to work less with Wabash
National’s composite design.”

C&S is
the largest wholesale grocery supply company in the U.S. It will operate the
trailer in California.

Ehrlich, senior director of engineering for Wabash, said the trailer represents
the combination of technologies – electrification and MSC – that make it zero
emissions. MSC technology is actually in over 250 Wabash trailers today, but
the addition of the electric refrigeration unit from Carrier is new. The
trailer also has 53 feet of solar panels on the roof that assist with the power
needs for the refrigeration process, he told FreightWaves.

“Where our
technology comes into play is if I can make the box more thermally efficient,
you don’t have to use as much shore power or battery power,” Ehrlich said.

To further
improve the thermal efficiency of the trailer, Wabash has eliminated the use of
aluminum posts and uses all non-conductive materials. The same MSC material is
used in the roof and floor, which Wabash has been able to make stronger with
the new manufacturing methods.

“In regard
to the floor, we’ve been able to produce a higher capacity floor… that opens up
more [revenue] opportunities,” Ehrlich said.

electric refrigeration unit adds between 400 and 500 pounds in batteries to the
weight of the trailer compared to a diesel unit, but Ehrlich noted that in
grocery applications, weight is not as much of a concern for C&S. The unit
also returns to a base each night where it can recharge.