UPS's London delivery fleet powered by 'world-first' smart charging system

Delivery firm UPS will have its central London delivery fleet powered by a new EV smart charging system, amid a flurry of major milestones for charge point installations.

The move forms part of UPS’s science-based target to reduce carbon emissions by 12% by 2025

The move forms part of UPS’s science-based target to reduce carbon emissions by 12% by 2025

Charging large numbers of UPS trucks simultaneously puts significant demand on the depot’s electricity demand.  

But a new smart charging solution from distribution network operator UK Power Networks Services will enable UPS to increase the amount of 7.5-tonne electric trucks operating from its London site from 65 to all 170.

The solution combines an Active Network Management system with battery storage, ensuring the depot’s electricity demand will not exceed the network’s limit. It also prevents significant investment in network electrical infrastructure.

UPS Europe’s director of sustainability Peter Harris hailed the move as a “world-first” on this scale.

Harris said: “We are using new technology to work around some big obstacles to electric vehicle deployment, heralding a new generation of sustainable urban delivery services both here in London and in other major cities around the world.

“EVs are an integral component within UPS’s alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet. Our collaboration with UK Power Networks and Cross River Partnership marks a major turning point in the cost-effective deployment of electric vehicles which in turn will play a key role in ensuring the global trend toward urbanisation is sustainable.

Charging London

Funding for the project comes from the UK’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles through a competition led by Innovate UK. The announcement forms part of UPS’s science-based target to reduce carbon emissions by 12% by 2025.

Freight vehicles account for around one-fifth of traffic in London. The Mayor of London’s draft Transport Strategy highlights how distribution centres in inner and central London will help the capital reach a zero-emission transport system by 2050.

Upgrades in the city’s EV charging network will accelerate efforts. Yesterday, Sadiq Khan launched 51 rapid charge points – where a vehicle can be charged in 20 to 30 minutes - for electric taxis across the city. This marked the installation of 100 rapid charge points in London over the past six months.

“The roll-out of rapid charging points marks a big step forward in the shift to zero-emission vehicles, which the capital desperately needs to clean up our toxic air,” Khan. “But widespread change will not happen until a sufficient charging infrastructure is in place, allowing taxi drivers, businesses and Londoners to easily make the switch.”

Largest of its kind?

Last week saw a total of 40 smart-chargers installed by EO Charging at the main depot of last mile city logistics firm Gnewt Cargo in London. This was heralded by EO as the UK’s largest single-site charge point installation.

But it appears this title has already been taken by construction contractor Skanska UK, which has installed 67 charge points at its Hertfordshire head office. Completed by suppliers Pod Point in two weeks, the 7kW chargers will be scaled up to 243 in the future.

“This is the largest single site charge point installation that we’re aware of in the UK, but also a sign of a larger shift over the past six months, as more businesses wake up to the benefits of EVs," Pod Point's chief executive Erik Fairbairn said.

"We’ve certainly seen a big increase in enquiries from companies wanting futureproof charge point installations that can be scaled up as their fleets make the switch to electric.”

George Ogleby


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