Two very different trucks to be seen sitting in Campeys of Selby’s yard in North Yorkshire serve as an illustration contrasting the ancient and modern UK trucking industry.
Rotting away in the corner of the yard is the decomposing hulk of a ‘Micky Mouse’ Foden. Nearby one of the lightest trucks on the fleet, which is undoubtedly the most expensive. It’s a 19-tonne battery-electric DAF LF two-axle rigid curtainsider.
This classic truck is a nod to the family haulier’s illustrious history and is ear-marked for a restoration one day, by current 28 year old boss Harry Campey. However, not just yet, as this forward-looking firm is far too busy investing in its future to find the time to celebrate its past.
The zero-tailpipe-emission truck, which was delivered in June, has a maximum range of 240km. This is sufficient for it to travel to and from York’s historic city centre, where it makes multi-drop pallet deliveries.
“We had a demonstrator just before Christmas, and it was excellent,” says Harry. “So, when we had the chance to order one, we thought we’d give it a go.”
He explained that running a used Tesla car helped give him the confidence to place the order for the DAF Electric. It had proved to be perfectly reliable, requiring no more than minimal maintenance. So much so that this gave the haulier the confidence to purchase the battery-powered 19-tonner without the backup of a DAF repair and maintenance (R&M) contract.
“A diesel truck’s R&M mainly covers your oil and filters, but obviously it doesn’t require them,” says Harry. “And with so few moving parts, we figure what can go wrong? We’re prepared to take a punt.”
Initially the truck will be plugged into the grid, but in two years this will change when the company moves into a new purpose-built, environmentally friendly headquarters. The site will be equipped with solar panels and wind turbines, with green electricity generated being stored in batteries. Although this electricity will effectively be free, the haulier is working off a cost of seven pence (14 cents) per kWh, in order to cover the infrastructure investment.
Due to the initial price of the truck, Campey doesn’t expect it to have a cost parity with diesel any time soon. However, he is hopeful this will change in the 10 years it is expected to remain on the fleet.
“It may well be a loss-leader, but it will be a fantastic marketing tool, plus we are hoping it will both retain business and gain new business,” says Harry. “This is such an exciting time, and there’s so much happening. It’s so opportunistic, and you have to be forward-thinking and forward-looking, and make the most of the new technology.”
Campey’s of Selby can trace its origins back to the 1930s well before the arrival of the aging Foden waiting to be renovated, when Harry’s great-grandfather Harry Campey founded H Campey & Son.
When the original Harry Campey died, the business passed to Harry’s grandad and his brothers.
Meanwhile, Harry’s father Paul, started driving trucks from the age of 18. Although he was always destined to have a life in haulage, he found it extremely difficult to work with his father, instead setting up his own recovery business.
But almost 20 years ago, when Paul’s father (Harry’s grandfather) retired and decided to sell the business, Paul stepped in. He couldn’t bear the thought of the Campeys name disappearing, so purchased the surviving two trucks from his dad. And so the current Campeys of Selby was born.
Pic credit: Tom Cunningham