Thermo King AxlePower electrifies woolworths’ refrigerated trailer in South Africa


Thermo King®, a leader in transport temperature control solutions and a brand of Trane Technologies, announced today that DP World logistic group and food retailer Woolworths are the first in Africa to operate the Thermo King AxlePower energy recovery system on the road. Advancing sustainability within the African transport sector, the new Thermo King refrigerated trailer has commenced operations on Woolworth’s route between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The AxlePower system has proved its resilience by operating efficiently in extreme conditions, providing constant cooling, with uninterrupted airflow inside the trailer in ambient temperatures exceeding 40°C. Over a distance of 15,000 km covered so far, the system has operated in electric mode, without engaging the unit’s diesel engine, for more than 97% of the time. The system also required no connection to the grid to compensate for any lack of energy nor to balance the battery charge. Estimations indicate that the AxlePower will annually save up to 27 tonnes of CO2 compared to traditional diesel-powered trailer refrigeration systems.

“This projects marks an important milestone towards a more sustainable future for Africa’s transport and logistics sector,’ said Ronnie Meechan, regional director Middle East and Africa at Thermo King. “In the rapidly growing South African market, the adoption of electrification and hydrogen technologies has become increasingly prominent in the pursuit of transporters looking to reduce their fuel consumption. Our collaboration with Woolworths and DP World underscores the shared belief that by embracing technological advancements and creative solutions, we can make significant strides towards reducing environmental impact and shaping a better tomorrow.”

“As part of our commitment to sustainability, we are excited to introduce Thermo King AxlePower technology to our fleet,” said Feroz Koor, Woolworths Holdings Group Head of Sustainability. “Following the rollout of our electric online delivery vehicles last year, this initiative aligns with our Vision 2025+ goal to have net zero carbon emissions by 2040 and ambition to create a more sustainable and efficient supply chain while reducing our carbon footprint.”

“We are proud to usher in a new era of energy-efficient and environmentally conscious refrigeration,” Esha Mansingh, Head of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability for sub-Saharan Africa at DP World. “This initiative aligns with DP World’s sustainability strategy, ‘Our World, Our Future’, which ensures that we operate as a responsible business, prioritising sustainability and impact on people, the environment and the communities in which we operate to achieve a better, more socially equitable and sustainable future. This trailer demonstrates transformative logistics technology that can help revolutionise the way we refrigerate goods on our roads. Thermo King AxlePower represents a significant step towards achieving sustainable and responsible logistics practices.”

Thermo King AxlePower: Revolutionising Trailer Journeys for a Sustainable Future

Thermo King AxlePower is a result of a collaboration between Thermo King and BPW Bergische Achsen KG, a leader in running gears and mobility services for transport. AxlePower is a fully integrated, tractor independent system that combines BPW’s ePower axle with Thermo King refrigeration unit and power management technology. The AxlePower’s smart energy generating system delivers the power needed to run the trailer refrigeration unit by converting energy recovered by the trailer’s axle during the vehicle’s routine operation.

The system stores the energy generated while the vehicle is rolling or braking in a high voltage battery and reuses it to power the refrigeration unit – enabling fully electric, low or zero-emission and autonomous trailer refrigeration. The Thermo King Energ-e battery pack, being charged while the trailer is moving also powers the unit autonomously while the trailer is stopped. Featuring smart power management that controls the engagement and disengagement of the generators, AxlePower also minimises the resistance on the tractor and provides the driver and fleet manager with real-time battery charge visibility to avoid ‘charge anxiety’.

The possibility to capture and reuse energy makes the Advancer AxlePower system an ideal solution to future-proof and increase the sustainability of all types of trailer journeys. With silent running and no CO2 emissions from the refrigeration unit when operating from the battery-pack, this technology allows customers to sustainably run long-haul and inner-city deliveries, including in Ultra-low Emission Zones (ULEZs) and low noise urban areas.

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