In order to get goods from place to place, especially temperature sensitive goods such as food items, delivery drivers use refrigerated trucks, reefers, to get the job done. Various manufacturers have turned to electrification to reduce emissions of some of their local delivery vehicles, typically pure electric trucks, which only drive a limited route and can be back in the stable before the charge is gone.
Reefers, though, typically rely on an engine-driven compressor to run the refrigerator and keep the goods fresh. Since an electric truck has no engine, one might have considered an electric reefer out of the question.
Nissan’s turned to hybrid vehicles to find the answer to the electric reefer conundrum. Because the gasoline-powered engine in hybrid electric vehicles [HEV] do not run all the time, they need an air-conditioning compressor that doesn’t run off the accessory belt on the engine.
Actually, the same goes for the water pump. Instead, these components on HEVs are electrically driven, which of course, required some special processes, since running electricity through coolant or refrigerant isn’t exactly safe.
In any case, with these new electrified compressors and pumps, an HEV can run air conditioning and heating without the need for a running engine. If an HEV can do it, then why not an ET? Nissan’s new electric reefer is exactly that, and makes use of electric compressors to run the refrigeration system, whether the truck is “running” or not, which actually makes it easier to regulate the temperature.
Nissan is dubbing the new electric reefer “Atlas F24 Lithium-ion Battery-based Refrigerator Car,” which is a mouthful, to be sure, but an accurate description. Nissan will be renting it out for a year starting this month to see how it operates in the real world. As long as the battery packs are big enough and the reefer is well-insulated, the Atlas ought to do well as a refrigerated delivery truck.