Brown Cargo Van Produces Its First Reefer For Electric Vehicle

May 25, 2010
Big Green, an all-electric refrigerated cargo truck manufactured cooperatively in the Midwest, is making its first deliveries for a seafood business in New York City

Big Green, an all-electric refrigerated cargo truck manufactured cooperatively in the Midwest, is making its first deliveries for a seafood business in New York City.

Down East Seafood owner Ed Taylor and his employees nicknamed the vehicle Big Green because of its green paint job and its green technology. The truck joins the Down East fleet that makes intercity deliveries of fresh fish from the wholesale business in Hunts Point, New York City’s large food distribution center.

“On our daily trips into the city, we pass through some residential areas that have high asthma rates for children so that’s why we decided to go with an electric vehicle,” Taylor says. “We care about our community.”

A cooperative effort among Brown Cargo Van in Lawrence, Kan., Smith Electric Vehicles in Kansas City, Mo., and Dole Refrigerating Company in Lewisburg, Tenn., the zero-emissions delivery truck was made specifically for carrying fresh food and frozen products, like the shrimp, lobsters, oysters and sea bass that Down East hauls.

“We at Brown are excited about partnering with Smith and Dole to create this electric reefer that we hope will change the way people deliver temperature-controlled products,” says Brown Cargo Van president Dane Jennison.

The refrigeration unit and the Smith electric truck use no fossil fuels. Both the chassis drive motor and refrigeration compressor are fully electric and get plugged in at night. Blower fans that run throughout the day operate from an auxiliary 24-volt lead acid battery system.

Taylor’s trips into Manhattan include stops at hotels, clubs, restaurants, and gourmet stores, the Federal Reserve, the United Nations and sports venues like Yankee Stadium. The trip is usually 60 miles—well under the range of 150 miles before a battery charge is needed.

“This is the first electric vehicle we’ve owned,” says Taylor, who was inspired to go green after watching the 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? “If a small company likes ours can go do this, then big businesses can too. Green is good.”

The electric refrigerated vehicle can be used for any type of refrigerated or frozen cargo as long as the user has a dedicated route structure with vehicles returning to the home base daily, according to Ron Thomson, Brown Cargo Van sales director.

Big Green with the latest green technology also models cooperative business success. Taylor contacted Smith Electric last fall. Smith asked Brown Cargo Van to build the refrigerated box. Brown requested the refrigeration work of Dole Refrigerating, which modified its cold-plate system to operate effectively on the Smith chassis. Brown designers blended together the two technologies, and in April Brown workers placed the reefer with its refrigeration unit onto the Smith chassis.

Taylor himself drove Big Green for its first deliveries on May 14.

“It runs really well and is very well built,” Taylor says. “People around town enjoy seeing it.”

Taylor credits New York local and state agencies for support and grant money, including the Brown Overall Economic Development Corporation, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the Center for Sustainable Energy and U.S. Representative José E. Serrano’s office.

Green technology and cooperative business ventures built Big Green.

“We want our customers to know that this electric reefer is just the tip of the iceberg for other cooperative possibilities in the transportation industry,” says Dane Jennison, Brown Cargo Van president.