Electric van trials helped deliver Christmas presents to Londoners

Electric vans helped deliver an average of 80,000 parcels a week across London during the Christmas period, as the city's Mayor Sadiq Khan continues to combat rising air pollution in the capital.

In a bid to cut toxic air emissions, London Mayor Sadiq Khan agreed to deploy a fleet of 25 electric vans to help deliver Christmas periods across the capital during the festive period. The new vans delivered an average of 80,000 parcels a week since Black Friday, including a high of 18,600 deliveries in a single day.

The vans were funded through a £1.1m partnership with the Mayor, Innovate UK and freight specialists Gnewt cargo. The trial is currently testing the commercial viability of electric delivery vehicles, and the 25 vans produce zero exhaust emissions and are some of the largest electric vans available.

The Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodrigues, said: “Electric delivery vans have an important role to play in helping lower harmful emissions and improve air quality on our roads. The Mayor is determined to take the bold action needed to protect Londoners from our toxic air and wants much greater use of electric vehicles as we move towards becoming a zero emissions city.”

More than half of London’s air pollution, which breaches legal limits across certain areas, is caused by diesel and old petrol vehicle emissions. Freight vans and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) account for more than 30% of central London traffic, and 97% of these are diesel.

The vans have been fitted with hardware to remotely monitor environmental emissions performance, driving range and the amount of electricity consumed. It is hoped the trail will showcase the benefits of electric vans and encourage freight companies to switch to cleaner vehicles.

The electric vans are charged using rapid charging infrastructure at Gnewt’s own depot. The chargers are fitted with SMART technology, which maps the most efficient times to bring the vehicles in to be charged.

Gnewt Cargo’s founder Sam Clarke added: “These innovative vehicles have already proved invaluable in allowing a far greater level of productivity at the busiest time of year. Gnewt is grateful for the contributions of Innovate UK and the support of the Mayor in achieving the successes that this project is already demonstrating.”

Dirty deeds

The Mayor has developed an all-encompassing plan to improve London’s air quality. As well as electrifying the city’s bus fleet, he has also introduced the world’s toughest new emission standard in the form of the T-Charge.

Vehicles which do not meet the Euro 4 standards for PM and NOx emissions will pay a £10 T-Charge fee on top of the Congestion Charge every weekday they drive in the zone from 7am-6pm.

Khan also confirmed that he will bring the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) plan for London forward 17 months earlier than planned. The new ULEZ date has been scheduled for April 2019.

At a national level, the Government’s Air Quality Plan, set to come into force this year, proposes a £3bn programme to clean up dirty air around UK roads. As part of the strategy, the Government has committed to the phase-out of new car sales for petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.

Matt Mace

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