Royal Mail to kickstart electric van trials in London

The UK's largest delivery company Royal Mail, will trial nine large commercial electric vehicles (EVs) to deliver mail across London and the South East, with charging stations also installed by the firm at its London-based mail centre.

Royal Mail announced on Wednesday (23 August) that the trials will commence later in the month. In total, three six-tonne, three 3.5-tonne and three 7.5-tonne electric delivery vans will be in circulation, as part of a new partnership with carmaker Arrival.

“We are pleased to be the first fleet operator to take delivery of and trial these new larger payload vehicles which will complement the 100 electric vans we recently ordered,” Royal Mail’s fleet managing director Paul Gatti said.

“We will be putting them through their paces over the next several months to see how they cope with the mail collection demands from our larger sites. Royal Mail is trialling a variety of vehicles to see which work best for us and are keen to share our experience with other fleet operators who may be considering introducing electric vehicles.”

Red on arrival

The company has previously trialled electric trucks, but the Arrival vehicles can offer more viable operating options. The prototype vehicles, designed to match Royal Mail’s iconic red vans, have a battery range of 100 miles, making it suitable for urban delivery.

A dual power mode can be used to top up the battery, which can be re-charged to 80% capacity in 30 minutes from a rapid charge point.

Charging stations have also been installed at Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant mail centre in London. Royal Mail, which operates a fleet of around 49,000 vehicles, is the first customer to use vehicles produced at Arrival’s new factory in the Midlands.

Arrival claims that the factory will eventually offer an output of 50,000 vehicles per year, many of which will be fitted with autonomous features. All the vehicles from the factory will be constructed solely using robotics.

“We are thrilled to partner with Royal Mail using our electric vehicles,” Arrival’s chief executive Denis Sverdlov said. “Cities like London will benefit hugely from a switch to electric, in terms of both pollution and noise. Most importantly we are priced the same as diesel trucks removing the main barrier to go electric.”

Earlier this year, Royal Mail revealed that it had surpassed a 20% carbon reduction target four years early. The company’s sustainability report noted that around 66% of it’s carbon emissions come from transportation.

Last year, Royal Mail acquired more than 2,800 new vehicles that comply with the Euro 6 standard on commercial vehicle emissions.

Royal Mail was the Employee Engagement & Behaviour Change winner at the latest Sustainability Leaders Awards. The company has since explained to edie how it has implemented an ambitious, company-wide engagement programme to deliver sustainability success.

Matt Mace

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