Irish organic yoghurt producer weighs up electric vehicles

22 Jul 2011

Managing director of Irish organic yoghurt maker Glenisk, Vincent Cleary, believes making its fleet run in a more environmentally-friendly way is an important aspect of reducing its carbon footprint.

As part of its steps to reduce its environmental impact, last year Glenisk purchased an all-electric sampling van called the Mega Van from French manufacturer AIXAM-MEGA. The van now travels to supermarkets and shops around Ireland so people can get a taste of the company’s products.

“This all-electric van is at the coalface. It meets consumers on a daily basis,” explains Cleary. “It portrays where we want to take our small company. What the van represents is just the start, I would hope, not only for our company but also for society at large. At the moment, the electric van was the best we could get our hands on in terms of a commercial vehicle.”

As to whether Glenisk will electrify its own vehicle fleet down the line, Cleary points to the limitations that manufacturers need to overcome.

“I never heard of Mega Van before until I went looking specifically for electric vehicles. They are a small player and the big manufacturers need to get involved.”

Vincent Cleary managing director Glenisk

Vincent Cleary, managing director, Glenisk

Cleary says he is disappointed with the automobile/trucking industry, which he asserts is not keeping up to speed on the electric and hybrid technology front.

“I would love if the truck manufacturers came out with a feasible alternative to burning diesel. Hybrids are a step forward but I am frustrated that there are no hybrid diesels out there yet although I believe some European manufacturers are about to launch vehicles that are a combination of hybrid technology with a diesel engine.”

He points to Renault’s imminent launch of an electric vehicle range in Ireland, at reduced prices, whereby people will have to rent the battery from them. Renault’s Kangoo ZE small commercial vehicle will be the first model for sale this November. It will be priced at €16,200, which includes the Government grant of €3,800 for electric vehicles.

“It’s a start. It’s another option. It will sell more electric cars. I also believe Ford is bringing out an electric transit van, so there are moves,” explains Cleary.

“Once the manufacturers start rolling out electric vehicles and they are viable alternatives to what we currently have then we will embrace them.

“The battery technology has improved radically in the last five years but I think the larger car makers need to give consumers a more feasible proposition and I see hydrogen as being the fuel for commercial trucks.”

Photo: Glenisk’s all-electric sampling van, which is powered up from the company’s on-site wind turbine

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic