UPS to trial electric delivery fleet in UK and France

UPS announced on Wednesday (9 May) it will trial a pilot fleet of 35 fully electric delivery vehicles (EVs) in the English and French capitals, with a view to a wider rollout.

The logistics giant has been working with technology firm ARRIVAL since 2016 to develop the purpose-built EVs, which have a battery range of 150 miles and charge time of 30 minutes. It expects to launch the first EVs in London and Paris before the end of 2018 but has not yet announced when the fleet’s expansion will be complete or the scope of a potential further rollout. 

This is a pioneering collaboration that helps UPS develop new ways to reduce our emissions,” UPS’s international director for automotive engineering Luke Wake said.

“UPS is marshalling its global scale to encourage innovation within the automotive industry; we are helping to drive demand for these disruptive technologies. The result is a safer and cleaner fleet for the communities in which we deliver.”

The company’s director for sustainability, Peter Harris, added that the ARRIVAL fleet will help UPS meet the global sustainability goals listed in its latest corporate sustainability report, including its flagship science-based target to reduce carbon emissions by 12% by 2025. Other goals made by the US-based delivery firm include sourcing quarter of its electricity needs from renewables by 2025, ensuring that 25% of new vehicles purchased each year use alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technology by 2020 and replacing 40% of all ground fuel with sources other than conventional gasoline and diesel within the same timeframe.

Going the distance 

UPS is a firm believer that its alternative fuel and renewables targets can integrate to deliver a holistic systems solution. It operates almost 9,000 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles globally, including 700 hybrid-electric and 300 fully-electric delivery vehicles in Europe and the US. In addition to the ARRIVAL fleet, it plans to deploy a further 50 clean delivery trucks and 125 electric tractors by the end of 2019. 

In a further recent move to meet its carbon emissions and renewables targets, UPS this year installed new ‘smart grid’ charging technology at its central London depot, in Camden, enabling it to simultaneously recharge all 170 trucks based there without the need for an expensive upgrade to the power supply grid.

UPS’s original foray into EV and its infrastructure began around 10 years ago, under the “Rolling Laboratory” initiative, which has enabled UPS to invest upwards of $750m in alternative fuel and advanced technology fuelling stations globally.

In 2016, the company revealed that electric, natural gas, biofuel and hybrid delivery trucks in its fleet had passed a milestone of collectively travelling one billion miles, one year early, and, over the same 12-month period, 97m gallons of alternative and lower-carbon fuels were used in the UPS ground fleet.

Arrival, on the other hand, previously worked with Royal Mail to trial nine large commercial EVs to deliver mail across London and the South East. 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.

Sarah George

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