Global brewing giant Anheuser-Busch will use battery electric vehicles to haul America’s iconic Budweiser beer after agreeing to trial 21 BYD trucks in its California fleet – some of which will be “refuelled” using a purpose built solar powered charging station.

In what’s being described as the largest Class 8 electric truck deployment in North America, the “Zero Emission Beverage Handling and Distribution at Scale” project will showcase BYD’s second generation 8TT rigs at four of the company’s distribution facilities across Southern California.

The landmark trial was announced in partnership with the China-based and Warren Buffet backed BYD, the US arm of global power company Engie, and California’s Centre for Transportation and the Environment.

The project – which won funding from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) – includes equipment testing, a one-year demonstration period, data collection, and associated reporting. CTE expects the trucks to begin operation near the end of 2019 with full completion in early 2021.

The project is expected to result in emissions reductions of 910 metric tons of CO2 per year, and is also expected to be replicated statewide after promising results from what were described as “extensive” preliminary tests.

In those tests, Anheuser-Busch said that the truck had exceeded the company’s requirements, and received enthusiastic feedback from drivers.

For Engie’s part of the deal, a local team will lead the design and installation of charging infrastructure at all four facilities – Sylmar, Riverside, Pomona, and Carson – and of a 958.5kW solar array at the Carson recharging site, to offset the use of conventional energy.

For Anheuser-Busch, the pivot away from fossil fuelled transport – which includes last year’s ambitious order of up to 800 hydrogen fuel cell trucks from Nikola – dovetails with the company’s 2017 RE100 commitment to source all of its energy from renewable resources by 2025.

That effort has been going from strength to strength, with a recent deal to buy the electricity generated by a 310MW west Texas solar farm set to deliver the brewer’s 100 per cent renewable target four years early, in 2021.

In Australia – until the recently approved sale to Japanese brewer Asahi – Anheuser-Busch was also the owner of iconic local Carlton & United Breweries, which is itself all but 100 per cent renewable powered.

“At Anheuser-Busch, we are committed to leading our industry towards a more sustainable future by reducing our carbon emissions across our value chain by 25 per cent by 2025,” said Angie Slaughter, the company’s vice president of sustainability procurement.

“The transport industry is one that is prime for innovative solutions and we are excited to continue driving progress towards a zero-emission fleet through this partnership.”

Richard Corey, the CEO of CARB, said the project would provide a real-world demonstration of the future for moving goods and products in the state.

“I congratulate all the companies partnering on this impressive effort for embracing zero-emission trucks, and showing other businesses a zero-emissions solution to moving goods and cargo that cleans the air, protects our children’s health, and fights climate change,” Corey said.

BYD’s head of business development in the electric truck division said the company was honoured to be part of the “major milestone” demonstrating the operational, economic, and environmental benefits of its zero-emission trucks.

“BYD trucks are out there right now working hard every day throughout California,” he said.

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