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Clean Vehicles

The Cola Wars Continue But Now With Electric Delivery Trucks

Renault Trucks

“Coke or Pepsi?” It’s a question asked around the lunch table for decades. The cola craze in 20th century America was iconic in developing soft drinks. These two brands have been bitter rivals for years. Now, their tug-of-war is extending to the electric vehicle (EV) realm. 

Landmark news broke on Nov. 24, 2022, when Coca-Cola Europacific Partners and Renault Trucks announced the rollout of EVs for short-range deliveries in Belgium. Coca-Cola Europacific said it would deploy Renault E-tech D and E-tech D Wide trucks that can travel up to 124 miles daily. Adding to the rivalry, Coke and Renault beat Tesla and PepsiCo in starting to use electric delivery fleets. 

Tesla and PepsiCo have had a deal to incorporate the Semi truck in an electrified fleet since 2017. As of Dec. 1, 2022, the first vehicles were put into operation and will complete orders at the Frito-Lay plant in Modesto, CA, and the PepsiCo plant in Sacramento. 

The soft drink provider ordered 100 Semi trucks in 2017, but several supply chain problems slowed the development of the vehicle itself. The delay allowed Coke and Renault to gain the lead in the ongoing competition between them and Pepsi. 

Photo Courtesy Tesla

Each beverage company’s choice of EV has different specifications for each business location. While the Renault trucks can only go 124 miles on a single charge, the Tesla Semi can travel 500 miles. Tesla also has a grander charging network to access. 

Renault will have on-site charging stations powered by green energy sources. However, even if Tesla does have the technological advantage over their French counterpart, it doesn’t dismiss the fact they were beaten to the punch by Pepsi’s greatest competitor. 

The rollout of these trucks is part of Coca-Cola Europacific’s grander plan to reach carbon neutrality. It hopes to slash emissions by 30% by 2030 and be fully carbon neutral by 2040.

Data-backed solutions ensure the least amount of emissions are created during distribution. 

“We carefully analyzed Coca-Cola’s logistics data, produced realistic route simulations, and carried out tests under real conditions that looked at energy consumption as well as driver comfort and safety,” said Siegfried Van Brabandt, managing director of Renault Trucks Belux. 

In addition, Coke Europacific is bottling the iconic soda line in 100% recycled plastic bottles, reducing emissions by 70% from connected business operations. “These initiatives are a testament to our desire to keep growing sustainably alongside our partners and customers,” said An Vermeulen, vice president and country director of Coca-Cola Europacific for Belgium and Luxembourg. 

Photo Courtesy Renault Trucks

While Coca-Cola Europacific is tackling the short-range delivery emissions problem, PepsiCo is thinking about long-range travel. Trucking is one of the biggest causes of greenhouse gas emissions in America. With many companies using it as the preferred method of freight hauling, these EVs will likely be deployed across several other brands. 

While the plants in California are the test subject for viability for Tesla, the company has orders from Walmart and UPS. More brands are getting on the green fleet standard.

Coke and Pepsi have been rivals in the beverage sector for years. They have battled each other for endorsement rights, being an official beverage provider for sports leagues, and which soft drink tastes better. Now they are fighting for dominance in the EV field. 

However, more development is still needed, and Renault is already planning improved designs. “We are continuing to expand our range of electric vehicles: next year, we will produce an electric 44-ton truck that goes much farther on a single charge,” said Van Brabandt.