Electric logging trucks will be driving Vancouver Island backroads in the near future.
Mosaic Forest Management has announced a new pilot project with Parksville-based electric vehicle company EcoWest Driven to bring on three Tesla electric trucks for their fleet.
Announced last week, Mosaic will join fellow Island company Quality Foods in testing the electric vehicles through the EcoWest partnership. The company will be testing the trucks to see if they can be used reliably for logging practices on the Island. When the trucks need to charge, they’ll do so at EcoWest’s location in Parksville, but as vice-president of forest and logistics and chief forester Domenico Iannidinardo says, they may not need to charge that often at all.
“The neat thing about this technology is that heading up a hill empty, and then coming down with a load of logs with independent motors on each wheel that can translate that braking force into regenerated electrical energy actually should be able to charge the battery on the way down,” he said. “We might not even need to plug in. That’s the kind of thing we’re testing.”
Eventually, if all goes well, Iannidinardo said that there could be more localized charging hubs, but since the trucks are bigger with different batteries they cannot be charged at a typical electric vehicle charging spot.
“It’s 10 or 20 times more (power) than you can get at a household plug-in,” he said.
If the pilot project is successful, the implications for the company could be quite large, Iannidinardo said.
“This January we confirmed a full organizational carbon footprint for Mosaic, and our long-haul fleet is a noteworthy component of our tailpipe emissions as a company,” he explained. “We operate about 300 trucks through our contractors and our company fleet. Over time, if this is successful, there’s quite a significant potential to reduce our emissions.”
The company has placed an order for the trucks, but do not have a concrete date of delivery.
The trucks themselves are going to be quite futuristic compared to a typical logging truck. For one thing, the driver will be sitting in the middle of the cab, “kind of like a rocket ship,” Iannidinardo said.
Since the trucks are new technology, the company will test them in various ways to ensure they’re viable as an option moving forward.
“We’ve got lots to try out, especially with the mud and the rocks that are involved in forestry roads,” he said. “They’re going to look a little less shiny after the pilot.”