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Innovative Idea by Groupe Robert

Innovative Idea by Groupe Robert

Many keen observers have noted that the Quebec-based enterprise, Robert’s liquid natural gas (LNG) trucks are equipped with solar panels, which are mounted on top of their hoods and cab deflectors. The main objective of these solar panels is to harness energy and use it to power electric devices. These solar plates generate enough energy to charge the batteries, which transfer power to the truck’s air conditioning system. They can also power electric devices when the rig is parked and the engine is turned off.

This innovative idea is simple yet revolutionary, and has the ability to change the fleet industry completely. Robert Groupe has devised a 300-watt four battery system that can supply enough energy to last through half the day. This power-saving idea will eliminate the need to equip each truck with a diesel powered generator, to be used for electronic devices. The LNG trucks are being equipped with the new innovative system and the return of investment is expected in the form of savings from exclusion of diesel generators.

These new trucks will be ideal for long hauls and Robert Groupe is spending a lot of money to install solar panels on top of the trucks. The company is also considering the introduction of Webasto electrical heater, which can replace the Webasto direct fire can heater to save energy consumption. Although the outlay investment from the solar system, for a single truck, is $14,000, the enterprise is not facing any investment deficit, because the price is same as that of diesel powered systems. Moreover, the truck will save the fuel consumption on an hourly basis. The cost/liter savings on diesel is a rare and enviable achievement by the fleet enterprise in the fuel-saving technology sector.
The solar project was initiated by Robert Groupe in 2013, mainly for recreational vehicles. One of Robert’s dealers in St.Julie, Excellence Peterbilt, was the first one to install a solar panel on top of a cab deflector, which gave Robert Groupe the idea to invest heavily in the solar panels. The system consists of Bergstrom NITE Phoenix AC system, and is completely independent from the truck’s electrical system outside the cab circuit.

Yves Maurais, technical director, asset management, purchasing and conformity, Groupe Robert, explained their point-of-view by saying, “It gave us five to six hours of autonomy, with AC, in very warm weather in the southern US in the summer. For all of the new trucks in which drivers use bunks – long- and medium-haul work – the solar panels will be installed.”

Regarding the incorporation of this new innovative idea into trucks on a broader scale, Maurais said, “The adoption rate is only limited by the fleet renewal rate. We buy the parts and send the trucks to Excellence Peterbilt, or the Centre du Camion Ste-Marie in Saint-Hyacinthe People ask us whether there is an issue with snow and ice. With the engine heat and the warming of the black panels there is no problem. And there is so much wind up on the deflector, snow does not stay there. Maybe OEMs will look into that and incorporate them into their whole electrical systems. It could reduce problems with cold weather starting, because the batteries would always be charged.” – See more at:

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