Fonterra set to be home to NZ’s first electric milk tanker – here’s 10 facts


More than 100 years ago, Fonterra’s Waitoa site had New Zealand’s largest fleet of electric milk trucks. Fast-forward to 2022, the site is set to welcome New Zealand’s first modern electric milk tanker. 

The E-tanker will help Fonterra understand what the future of electric milk collection and rural heavy transport looks like.

With road transport being one the fastest growing source of emissions, the Co-op sees this as an opportunity to help the country identify and deliver lower carbon transport solutions. 

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer, Fraser Whineray, says improving emissions across the entire supply chain is part of Fonterra’s overall commitment to sustainability.

“The global technology investment in sustainable land, air and sea transport is phenomenal. Our teams are constantly screening the possibilities to see what could work across our supply chain”

The E-tanker is part of Fonterra’s Electric Vehicle strategy that will see a third of the Co-op’s light vehicle fleet converted to EV’s by the end of 2023, while also focusing on transitioning medium and heavy vehicles​​.

Still curious? Here’s 10 facts about the new E-tanker...

1. What will it be named?

Following a fierce but friendly ‘Name the E-tanker’ competition, which was open to Fonterra employees, farmers and the general public we’re down to the final few – watch this space for updates.

2. How big is it?
It’s about the same size as a regular tanker. For those of you who want the more technical details – it will operate at 46T GVM (gross vehicle mass) with the trailer.

3. How far can it go?
It has a range of about 140km on a full charge (but this is still needing to be tested).

The global technology investment in sustainable land, air and sea transport is phenomenal. Our teams are constantly screening the possibilities to see what could work across our supply chain.

Fraser Whineray, Chief Operating Officer, Fonterra

4. What brand is it?

The cab and chassis are from XCMG – a Chinese construction machinery group. The team will fit the ‘tank’ part of the tanker to it, which will be the same as with Fonterra’s regular tankers.

5. Is this the first of its kind?

With regards to a fully electric milk tanker in New Zealand, yes. As for in the world, we can’t be sure yet, we’re still checking that out.

6. How much milk will it carry?

The tank will be the same size as on our regular tanker with the capacity to carry 28,000 litres. However, because the ‘truck’ part of the tanker is a bit heavier with the battery it will carry around 2,300 litres of milk less. This is so we can operate within our permitted weight. 

7. How long does it take to charge?

It will take about three hours to charge, and we will be operating it on a battery swap system so we won’t have to have it lying idle while charging.

The team will be able to swap the battery out in about six minutes. 

A first glance at the E-tanker.

8. What will you be looking at during the trial?

We’ll be looking at a number of factors including; how far it can go, how easy it is to charge, milk collection, maintenance, efficiency, cost, and driver comfort and safety. 

This is very much a trial and we’re looking forward to learning more about heavy vehicle E-Transport in a rural setting.  

9. Where will it be based?

Our Waitoa plant,this is because Waitoa has lots of close supplying farms on relatively flat land, so we can do shorter runs where we can reduce battery consumption with less hills. 

Since Waitoa was home to the biggest fleet of electric milk trucks, it is also fitting that in New Zealand it becomes home to the first modern milk collection electric tanker in New Zealand. 

10. How long will it take to build?

The build took about 36 days. A normal tanker takes about 27 days to build, but this took a bit longer due to some of the new tech we had to manage