Outspoken Delivery to help slash vehicle emissions in Waltham Forest

Outspoken Delivery is to extend its cargo bike operation into the capital, as part of scheme to reduce vehicle emissions in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

The borough has won funding from the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund for a scheme to help local businesses use zero-emission cargo bikes and electric vans where possible to improve air quality.

It follows a successful ‘Christmas Courier’ pilot that saw 20 businesses participate and more than 1,000 parcels delivered in December 2016 by zero-emission modes.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, deputy leader and cabinet member for the environment at Waltham Forest Borough Council, said: “Outspoken Delivery will be a fantastic partner to build upon the success of the Christmas Courier pilot scheme and help to reduce vehicle emissions in the borough while supporting local businesses.

“Improving air quality is one of my main priorities and this scheme will help to transform how deliveries to and from businesses and residents are made while making our streets healthier places to live.”

Outspoken MD Rob King said: “We are very excited about this opportunity to work with the London Borough of Waltham Forest and to provide a service that will benefit both the businesses and residents of the borough.”

The cycle courier firm already has city schemes up and running in Cambridge, Glasgow and Norwich, with the Waltham Forest initiative its first permanent operation in London.

Operations director Gary Armstrong told Freight in the City that further expansion was likely on the cards: “We are always on the lookout to expand to other boroughs in London and other UK cities.”

The Waltham Forest scheme will start in September, and the company is on the hunt for an operations manager to head it up.

Government funding of £35m up for grabs for low-carbon vehicle technology

Businesses are invited to bid for a share of a £35m funding pot to develop low-carbon vehicle technology.

The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) competition is open to consortia that can deliver projects to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and strengthen the UK’s position on low-carbon vehicle technology.

Projects include at least one vehicle manufacturer or main supplier, as well as an SME.

Areas that will be supported include:

  • alternative propulsion systems
  • electric machines and power electronics
  • energy storage and energy management
  • lightweight vehicle and powertrain structures
  • thermal propulsion systems

Total project costs are anticipated to range in size from £5m to £40m, with a duration of between 18 and 42 months. Businesses can bid for up to 70% of their total project costs

Registration is now open, with a deadline of noon on 20 September.

In January, the government launched a competition to support low-emission freight and logistics trials.



£20m available for electric vehicle-to-grid projects

Innovate UK has committed £20m for innovative projects that develop future electric vehicle-to-grid products, services and knowledge.

Vehicle-to-grid techniques could enable electric vehicle owners to offer electricity to the grid, or for other uses in exchange for financial or other benefits.

As the fleet of electric and plug-in hybrid ultra-low emission vehicles grows, Innovate UK said this “important and rapidly developing area of technology has the potential to benefit electric vehicle users and to support a more flexible, efficient electricity system”.

Grant funding is available for three types of innovation projects:

The deadline for bids is 18 October.


Making the switch to electric freight vehicles could save London £900m by 2021

Switching 10% of London’s current truck and van fleet from diesel to electric by 2021 could save the capital £900m in reduced health impact and abatement costs, researchers have calculated.

Such a move would also shave 402 tonnes of NOx, 3.8 tonnes of particulate matter and 284,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas from the capital’s streets (see box below).

The results were presented at the final Frevue conference last week (21 June) – a four-and-a-half year EU scheme to assess the viability of electric freight vehicles in towns and cities.

Three uptake scenarios for electric freight vehicles:

Low – 10% of all freight traffic electrified
• Medium – 50% of all freight traffic  electrified
• High – 100% of all freight traffic electrified

Low penetration level (10%), 2021:
• NOx reduction of 402 tonnes
• PM reduction of 3.8 tonnes
• Local GHG savings of 284,000 tonnes CO2e

High penetration level (100%), 2031:
• NOx reduction of 2,500 tonnes
• PM reduction of 16 tonnes
• Local GHG savings of 2. 9 tonnes CO2e

Professor John Polak, director of the Urban System Laboratory at Imperial College London, undertook research to assess the environmental impact of electric trucks.

This included direct results from the Frevue vehicles taking part in the trial, traffic modelling to assess future impact depending on electric freight vehicle uptake levels, and the resulting cost savings to be realised.

Social impact

Polak’s research also looked at the wider social impact and attitudes towards electric freight vehicles.

He surveyed hundreds of participants from the eight Frevue partner cities: Amsterdam, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Milan, Oslo, Rotterdam and Stockholm.

This included feedback from drivers and fleet managers, through to end customers and infrastructure providers. Some key conclusions found that:

  • Drivers found electric vehicles to be a positive experience, enjoying the instant power, quietness and simple operation.
  • Only 15% of drivers reported any range anxiety, which was due in the main to a low state of charge at the end of their delivery routes and a reduction in performance during cold weather.
  • Fleet managers found the electric vehicles integrated easily into existing depot routines, with good reliability reported for electric vans and improved reliability for larger electric trucks after an initial trial and error period.
  • Around half of logistics firms surveyed said they have committed to more electric freight vehicles in the short-term due to positive experiences, however, 30% said there is no plan as “better products are needed”.
  • Others planned to deploy more electric vehicles as part of a wider fleet decarbonisation strategy, looking at suitability of all alternative fuels, infrastructure, financial incentives and policy.

Polak’s full research presentation is available on Frevue’s website.


Real-world electric freight vehicle data presented at final Frevue conference

More than 200 city logistics stakeholders headed to London’s Guildhall last week (21 June) to attend the final Frevue conference.

The EU project, led by the Cross River Partnership, has been running for four-and-a-half years to explore the viability of electric freight vehicles (EFVs) in urban environments.

Operators and public sector officials from eight major European cities have taken part in the project: Amsterdam, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Milan, Oslo, Rotterdam and Stockholm.

A range of 80-plus electric freight vehicles from car-derived vans up to 18-tonne trucks have been trialled in real-world operations, with data recorded over 757,000km.

Individual trials looked at everything from driver comfort through to battery performance and charging requirements for a multi-vehicle fleet.

Key findings from the event include:
• EFVs are well suited to inner city operations;
• The range of EFVs on the market today is sufficient for most operations;
• Good driver acceptability and comfort to operate;
• Zero tailpipe emissions, with strong health benefits
Significant cost savings for cities through reduced health and abatement costs

Some challenges still to be overcome, include:
• Limited vehicle supply, particularly at the larger end of the vehicle scale;
• For larger electric trucks, the business case is hard to make at present, although for small and medium EFVs they are already a cost-viable alternative to diesel. Larger trucks will continue to become more cost-effective as more players enter the market and battery technology is enhanced.

You can find case studies and useful guidance documents about all the city projects conducted through the programme on the Frevue website, as well as download all the slides and findings from the final conference.

Make sure to also sign the Frevue Declaration of Intent, which aims to provide solid proof to manufacturers of the desire from industry that demand exists for EFVs.

To date, more than 38 have been signed by organisations, representing 5,075 vans and 4,180 trucks.

Innovate UK project to develop autonomous driving system for Charge electric trucks

Charge Automotive has won Innovate UK backing to help develop autonomous driving functionality for its new range of electric freight vehicles.

Dubbed Robopilot, the project will see Charge leading a consortium (see box, below) to bring autonomous racing technology to the light commercial vehicle market.

Robopilot combines input from sensors around the vehicle – such as radars, cameras, ultrasonics and lidars (light sensors to measure the distance to a target object) – with mapping, artificial intelligence and fleet information, which is then acted on by autonomous software.

The technology has already undergone “rigorous simulation, internal testing as well as public demonstrations”, according to Victoria Tomlinson, head of PR & communications at Charge Automotive.

She added: “The road environment is complex: simulation, verification and validation, and physical testing in controlled environments, in conjunction with our project partners, will take place before road trials begin.”

Robopilot features in the second wave of projects from a £35m joint Centre for Connected & Autonomous Vehicles and Innovate UK competition launched last autumn.

The Oxfordshire-based firm plans to bring a range of affordable, zero-emission freight trucks to the market that will be priced in line with traditional diesel counterparts.

Earlier this month, Charge signed a 15-year lease on a manufacturing facility in Banbury Cross, with the first trucks in the 3.5-tonne to 26-tonne range expected to roll off the production line later this year.

Commenting on the recent competition funding, Tomlinson told Freight in the City: “It is great to be at the forefront of the advancement of driverless technology in the UK and for that to be acknowledged by Innovate UK.”

Charge Automotive is backed by investment firm Kinetik.

Consortium partners

  • Charge Automotive
  • UPS UK
  • Thales UK
  • Loughborough University
  • University of Bristol
  • University of West of England
  • South Gloucesterhire Council
  • Test and Verification Solutions
  • AXA UK


Greener fleet vehicles and emerging tech essential for UPS sustainability goals

UPS has announced that by 2020, one-in-four new fleet vehicles it buys will be alternative fuelled and feature advanced technology, up from 16% today.

The decision is one of a number of environmental targets published  in the parcel firm’s 2016 Corporate Sustainability Report, which supports UPS’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ground operations by 12% by 2025.

“Because of our size and scale, we know our commitments can shape markets, advance technologies and be a catalyst for infrastructure investments,” said David Abney, UPS chairman and CEO.

“We rely on the ingenuity of our employees, suppliers and technology partners to help us reach goals that will transform the shipping industry and spur innovation.”

UPS already operates more than 8,300 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles worldwide.

The company’s fleet includes electric, hybrid electric, hydraulic hybrid, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, propane and lightweight fuel-saving composite body vehicles.

It uses a ‘rolling laboratory‘ approach to determine which alternative fuels and technologies work best in each situation.

“As part of this ‘rolling laboratory’ of alternative delivery vehicles, we have been deploying electrically assisted cargo tricycles for package pick-up and delivery in central urban locations across Europe,” said ‎Peter Harris, director of sustainability, Europe at UPS.

“In fact, we recently launched such an initiative in Dublin, Ireland and will be trialling one in London soon.”

You can read more about UPS’s urban logistics trials in an exclusive interview with Harris that Freightinthecity conducted earlier this year.


Proposals to modernise London Lorry Control Scheme given go-ahead

Proposals to revamp the London Lorry Control Scheme (LLCS) have been given the go-ahead by London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee (TEC).

The LLCS controls the routes that HGVs over 18 tonnes can use at night and at weekends and has been in place since 1985 to help reduce noise pollution in residential areas during the night.

However, the freight sector has long been calling for a review of the 32-year-old scheme to take into account modern, quieter HGV technology and the challenges operators face in delivering during limited hours.

A full-scale review began late last year, with a series of recommendations drawn up to modernise the scheme, which were approved last week (15 June) at a TEC hearing.

These include exploring the development of a noise standard for lorries, special permission for the “quietest fleets” to deliver overnight, and a review of the operational hours and routes (see box below for key recommendations).

London Councils’ TEC chairman Julian Bell said: “The London Lorry Control Scheme has played an important role in reducing the impact of freight movements on the lives of Londoners for over 30 years.

“The review’s findings will help us ensure the freight industry can meet the challenges it faces while continuing to help Londoners get a good nights’ sleep.”

The FTA has welcomed the acceptance of the proposals as a “positive sign” the scheme is to be modernised for the first time in three decades.

Natalie Chapman, head of policy for London, South-East and East of England, acknowledged the “massive amount of work” undertaken by London Councils during the review process.

However, she’d like to see significant proposals, such as route reviews and pilots for amended operational hours, addressed sooner than planned by London Councils.

Major changes to the LLCS would likely need further public consultations and changes to traffic management orders in boroughs.

“It is frustrating, but it is the political reality,” said Chapman. “We will continue to meet quarterly to work with London Councils to make sure all the things in the document do happen.

“Some of it may take a while, but we’re not taking our foot off the gas.”

The RHA criticised the review for failing to address the freight sector’s challenges.

RHA deputy policy director Duncan Buchanan said: “It is not acceptable that the hours of operation of the scheme and the extent of the core network that is available for use have been put in the long grass by this report.

“The report does acknowledge that the freight industry raised concerns about the road network and hours of control, but these issues have been side-lined and no action will be taken on these for at least 18 months – if ever.”

During 2015/16, 4,314 operators and 679 drivers were fined for breaching the LLCS.

Key recommendations of the LLCS review:

  • Raise awareness of the scheme’s purpose, benefits and rules among key stakeholders such as the freight industry, London boroughs, residents’ groups, businesses and international freight organisations. This will involve updating the scheme’s website and online portal, as well as exploring new technologies to make it easier for freight operators to plan and follow compliant routes.
  • Develop “noise standards” for vehicle and infrastructure design that properly reflect how existing and new technologies could improve the operation of the scheme and the restrictions that apply to vehicles.
  • Trial the use of CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) enforcement to improve compliance.
  • Reassess the scheme’s restrictions, such as routes, hours of control, the weight limit, traffic signs and vehicle exemptions, particularly in line with the advancements in vehicle design and serving the needs and demands of London’s growing 24/7 economy.
  • Update online systems and processes to improve the day-to-day administration of the scheme.
  • A range of stakeholders, including those representing businesses, London residents, freight operators, London boroughs, Transport for London and the Greater London Authority, have been involved in the review and have helped to identify a number of areas for possible changes and improvements to the scheme.


Traffic light monitoring app to help HGV drivers reduce emissions

A new smartphone app, Greenwave, that enables HGV drivers to monitor traffic light signals and drive more efficiently as they approach them, is to be trialled in Birmingham.

By being aware of when traffic lights will change, it’s hoped drivers will be able to adapt their speed to ‘ride the greenwave’ and minimise stops and starts at traffic lights.

This should reduce both fuel use and emissions, as vehicles will spend less time idling at red signals.

The 12-month Greenwave pilot, which started in April, forms part of the government’s £20m Low Emission Freight and Logistics trial.

It is being run in a consortium led by Idox Transport, which includes CheckedSafe, Amey and Birmingham City Council.

Birmingham is one of a number of UK cities mandated to introduce a clean air zone by 2020 and the council said it welcomed projects like this that were “creating innovative, practical solutions to improve air quality.”

Civils firm Amey will be using the new app on 12 Masternaut-equipped refuse trucks over a six-month period on its Birmingham Highways utility contract to monitor the impact on MPG and emissions.

The aim is to deliver a 10% reduction in monthly fuel costs and emissions.

Tony Matthews, Amey’s transport manager for Birmingham, said: “Amey is involved in a number of initiatives which support Birmingham City Council’s drive to improve air quality and we are delighted to be piloting this technology.

“All of our vehicles are GPS tracked so we can monitor how driving styles impact fuel consumption, and we are excited to see how this trial will help our drivers adapt even further to limit the environmental impact of these essential journeys,” he added.

How does it work?

The app is fully hands-free and uses audio and visual methods to relay data to the driver.

It uses traffic signal data to transform fleet driver behaviour by encouraging them to drive in a more efficient manner via gamification.

Drivers are awarded a green score each time they drive, based on both their driving style and how they approach traffic signals. Points accumulate over the month with a monthly league board rewarding the driver with the highest score.

CheckedSafe (winner of a Commercial Motor Award for Workshop Innovation of the Year in 2016) will be delivering the app that drivers will use to monitor traffic signal timings, working with Idox Transport which manages the Urban Traffic Monitoring Control (UTMC) system that controls the traffic signal timings, on behalf of Amey and Birmingham City Council.

Anthony Burgess, head of projects at Idox Transport, said: “There is no known solution of this type in existence – which uses data feeds from existing infrastructure to provide drivers with live updates enabling them to change their driving style.”


Ford opens smart mobility research hub in London

Ford is opening a Smart Mobility Innovation office in London to enable a 40-strong R&D team to be closer to top academics and technology firms based in the capital.

Located at the Here East innovation hub at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, the new team will work on “cutting edge trials” in London including the plug-in hybrid Transit fleet project launching later this year.

“Basing our rapidly growing team here in the heart of mobility innovation in London is critical to accelerating our learning and development of new technologies,” said Steven Armstrong, group vice president and president of Europe, Middle East and Africa at Ford.

“The location at Here East will allow us greater collaboration and the out-of-the-box thinking needed to tackle the urban transport challenges of tomorrow.”

The Olympic Park’s private road network may also be used for vehicle testing in the future.

Here East is also home to teams from Loughborough University, Advanced Propulsion Centre and UCL Robotics.