waitrose boat tail lorry

Waitrose has invested in 20 more ultra-low carbon ‘boat-tail’ lorry trailers from manufacturer Gray & Adams.

The aerodynamic, temperature-controlled trailers, which taper at the rear like the stern of a boat, have been fine-tuned by Gray & Adams and academics at Cambridge University.

The resulting design contributes to an annual 7,000-tonne reduction in carbon emissions per lorry and increased fuel efficiency of 7% over Waitrose standard trailers, saving 2,800 litres of fuel a year.

“We’ve worked with Gray & Adams for many years and the collaboration between our two companies works well,” said the John Lewis Partnership’s vehicle engineering manager Simon Gray, who confirmed that Waitrose had also ordered a number of specialised twin-deck trailers from Gray & Adams for this year.

Gray & Adams, which builds the trailers at Fraserburgh in Scotland, said it had long been incorporating additional features into the trailers it built for Waitrose, such as side skirts to reduce wind resistance and increase fuel efficiency.

However, through the government’s low-carbon truck trial, and collaboration with Cambridge University, the retailer had now incorporated further energy-saving features such as the ‘boat-tail’ design, slightly tapered sidewalls, and a lowered overall height, which cut drag by another 14%.

Gray & Adams had made changes so no cargo space was lost and they were able to dock with Waitrose’s existing warehouse and store loading bays.

The first handful of the ‘boat-tail’ trailers were ordered from the transport specialist two years ago with more last year and a further tranche of 20 now.

“We’ve fine-tuned the specification along the way but the basic concept has been a success since day one,” Gray said.

“It also means that we will recoup the increased capital cost of each trailer within two years. Given that we envisage a 10-year life for our trailers, these are highly cost-effective as well as environmentally beneficial.”