Volkswagen to gauge UK appetite for electric van at CV Show

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will be testing the waters at this year’s CV Show, where it will be trying to gauge the UK’s appetite for its all-electric compact van.

A German version of the e-Load Up!, was designed with urban deliveries in mind.

It will be on display on Volkswagen’s stand, despite the manufacturer having no plans to sell the electric vehicle in the UK.

An offshoot of the Up! car at 3.6m in length, it offers up to 990 litres of cargo volume and a 360kg payload.

The van is powered by an AC electric motor which produces 60 kW and 210 Nm of torque.

Volkswagen said the e-Load Up! has a range of 160km, with energy consumption of 11.7 kWh per 100km.

  • Registration is open for the free-to-attend CV Show, taking place at the Birmingham NEC between 26-28 April.

Freight in the City Spring Summit attracts strong interest in sustainable urban deliveries

More than 350 visitors attended the Freight in the City Spring Summit this week to explore innovative ways of handling urban freight movements.

Starting the event with a powerful keynote speech was Labour MP Rob Flello, a keen supporter of the freight industry, who urged operators to approach government swiftly and collectively to address freight policy ahead of full Brexit negotiations.

Speakers representing some of the UK’s major cities, alongside academics and leading freight and logistics companies then took the stage to highlight best practice in making city deliveries cleaner, safer and quieter.

Themes explored on the day included the UK needing to take the lead in urban logistics innovation, data advancements to drive efficiency, and great examples of best practice taking place across Europe.

If you’d like to find out more about the event, then why not take a look at the latest A Week in Trucks video for highlights throughout the day.

And if you’d like to find out more about Freight in the City Scotland on 28 September, or Freight in the City London Expo on 7 November, then please contact





UPS: The big data revolution will drive logistics efficiency

Rapid advancements in data capability will be a core driver of innovation across the urban logistics sector, delegates to Freight in the City Spring Summit heard yesterday.

“If there’s one thing that’s really driving the opportunity for our industry to march forward in terms of its efficiency capabilities today, it’s the big data revolution,” said Peter Harris, director of sustainability for Europe at UPS.

“The opportunity for technology to enable us to crunch data in a way that wasn’t available just a few years ago,” Harris added.

UPS has been using its Orion (On-Road Integrated Optimisation and Navigation) system since 2014 across its US operation to analyse delivery drivers’ daily multi-stops and optimise the best route to take.

The system has enabled the parcel operator to reduce each driver’s average distance by seven miles per day.

Across the whole of the US driver-force, this has reduced annual journeys by 100 million miles, slashed 100,000 metric tonnes of CO2, and saved 10 million gallons of fuel.

Rolling laboratory

UPS has also been using its scale to enable it to take the lead in trialling the latest vehicle technology and fuels on the market.

Its “rolling laboratory” of more than 8,000 alternative fuel lorries and vans have now travelled more than one billion miles worldwide.

This has enabled the parcel firm to map the technologies it feels are most suited to each of its operations, focusing on duty-specific application of individual fuels.

Its Alternative Technology Vision is a strategy for each of its urban operations, ranging from city-to-hub feeder routes using biomethane trucks, through to a truck-free future in the densest urban areas.

In these central-most zones, the parcel firm revealed a plan to expand out the successful urban logistics model in place across Hamburg.



Are low-emission zones helping drive urban logistics innovation?

Low-emission zones (LEZs) in cities are driving forward innovation in urban logistics, delegates heard at the Freight in the City Spring Summit in Birmingham.

Laetitia Dablanc, director of research at the French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Development and Networks, said there were around 200 LEZs operating in 12 countries across Europe.

Many capital cities across Europe now prevent access to older, more polluting vehicles to varying degrees, with countries such as Germany and Italy using LEZs in all medium-sized cities as well.

Dablanc conducted a survey about the impact LEZs had on the urban freight sector in London, Berlin and Gothenburg – you can read the findings of that survey here.

As well as a decrease in the number of freight miles undertaken within LEZ zones, Dablanc also discovered a reduction in the number of smaller operators.

She told delegates: “I don’t think this is a bad impact. I think it is good for the industry of urban freight, which has seen too many very small freight companies that lack the size to modernise their fleet and invest in their technology, or organise deliveries differently.”

Despite a positive trend towards sustainable urban freight models, 95% of deliveries into city are still made by diesel truck or van, she said: “95% of deliveries may be better off as a result of LEZs.”

Her research also found that LEZs had been more widely accepted in cities than originally thought, while the role of the rental sector had gained more prominence as operators looked for cleaner fleet vehicles

Dablanc also touched on the potential of extending the amount of out-of-hours deliveries taking place across cities globally.

She told delegates how New York City’s latest trials had led it to now include expansion of out-of-hours deliveries and noise monitoring in its transport strategy.

Businesses taking part had reported fewer delays, faster travel speeds and millions of dollars saved through parking tickets.

Paris promotes warehouse strategy for urban logistics use

Paris is adopting a new urban warehouse strategy to enable freight operators to occupy centrally-located city hubs at affordable rates.

The warehouses will enable more efficient consolidation of freight into central hubs, with goods transferred to cleaner modes for the last mile of delivery.

Speakers at Wednesday’s Freight in the City Spring Summit heard from Laetitia Dablanc, director of research at the French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Development and Networks, about the programme.

The ‘logistics hotel’ in Chapelle International in the 18th arrondissement of Paris uses a multi-storey design to maximise occupancy: the hotel has two floors dedicated to logistics activities, while the rest is used by offices, a data centre and a school on the upper floors.

Paris has also introduced a number of smaller underground freight parks to handle growing demand for e-commerce parcels.

For example, in the Place de la Concorde, a 1,000m2 underground park has been created for operator Chronopost, with a similar unit in use by Fed-Ex near the Rue des Pyramides.

The sites are built in old, disused buildings which enables them to be rented out at affordable rates for logistics activities.

There are currently around 20 of these smaller logistics terminals in Paris, with provision for around 80 more logistics terminals to be built within the Paris zoning plan.


UK should stop looking overseas for solutions, says Transport for the West Midlands

The UK shouldn’t be looking to cities overseas for answers to problems such as congestion and air quality, according to the chief executive of Transport for the West Midlands.

Speaking at the Freight in the City Spring Summit, Martin Reeves (pictured) told delegates that industry must “test things, try things. Or we’ll be back in this room in five years with nothing different”.

He said: “We should  not just address these issues, but we should be a beacon. Why is it that we find ourselves having to go to other European countries – to North America, to Scandinavia – and other parts of the world to understand best practice? We should be generating the international standards on best practice.”

On the day’s theme of improving the last mile, Reeves said that congestion around UK cities was “intolerable” to the detriment of final mile deliveries.

He said: “We are woefully behind our European counterparts in congestion. It’s a challenge to our economy. Every day you see the congestion on the network, which then affects last mile in our city centres. That is intolerable.”

Reeves also urged delegates to think of the air quality issues as an opportunity for change.

He said: “Rather than seeing air quality as a public health challenge, let’s see as it as a challenge and an opportunity to think fundamentally differently about disruptive technologies and how people live their lives. We have got to change the dynamic.”

The West Midlands, he added, will “never ever get the chance again to reimagine physically, socially, economically, environmentally, practically rebuild our cities.

“We have a choice,” he said.  We can do it well, and future proof it as best as we possibly can and grab the opportunity, not despite the challenges that we face but because of them. Or we do it badly.

“You’ve got to be leaders yourselves, you can’t be self-interested. Understand the power that you offer to future cities and future communities.”

Another speaker at the event agreed that urban freight challenges were an opportunity for creative thinking.

Helen Smith, head of logistics, environment and active travel at Transport for Greater Manchester, said vehicle design in particular was an area that could use more joined up thinking.

She said: “We could be more creative in our solutions. One basic example is there is a lot of work happening with schemes like Clocs, and the manufacturers are coming forward. But actually is there a programme that combines all these things?

Are we having the right conversations? Are we tackling this in a combined way, or looking in isolation at different problems and coming up with solutions that run parallel?”

Flello urges operators to approach government ‘loudly and clearly’ at Spring Summit

Freight operators were today urged to act “loudly, clearly and collectively” in any approach to government ahead of full Brexit negotiations.

Speaking at Freight in the City Spring Summit, Labour MP Rob Flello reiterated a plea made to industry last year for operators to voice plans for improving freight policy as a matter of urgency.

“All government departments are going to be log-jammed for years to come unravelling the legislative implications of Brexit,” said Flello (pictured, right).

With the DfT likely to be dominated by HS2 and Heathrow’s third runway, he said any ideas put forward by the freight sector must be have an easy-to-verify upside and preferably no departmental expenditure or effort.

“Make good arguments now or see them lost under the deluge of post-European legislative noise about to engulf us all,” he added.

Focusing on today’s summit theme – ‘Improving the last mile’ – Flello acknowledged that this was the most visible and politically-charged element of all deliveries.

“Lorry drivers are seen as the cause of urban congestion, pollution and the shortening of lives in our cities.  The caricature of ‘white van man’ as the careless, selfish road hog, rather than the person who’s bringing the stuff we all need is an unfair but prevalent one,” said Flello.

Addressing calls to switch to greener modes of transport through purely penalising diesel vehicles was not a “magic bullet in a world where consumers demand next-day delivery or better”, he believed.

Instead, smarter use of existing roads such as night-time deliveries, better responsiveness to varying traffic flows, intelligent management systems including traffic lights and sharing out the roads more efficiently should be encouraged as an immediate measure.

He also called for a national, integrated transport policy to be developed by central government.

In addition, Flello believed support of the GB Rail Freight Route could be a cost-effective and vital approach to removing freight from roads.

About 12% of UK freight goes by rail, whereas across the rest of Europe this figure is 15% and rising, he said.

“The GB Freight Route could take hundreds of thousands of lorries off our roads each week.”

The idea is for a dedicated line from London, through the Midlands and into Scotland and Wales following 480 miles of existing or disused track.  It would be a roll-on, roll-off system with lorries carried on the train.

Flello said it’s calculated to use a third of the fuel the road journeys would consume and produce 70% less CO2.

“Major supermarkets are already keen and at just six billion quid it’s about a tenth the price of HS2 and would take just five years to complete,” he said.

“It’s currently being considered by the National Infrastructure Commission and, with all the things going for it HS2 doesn’t have – cost, deliverability, carbon positivity, lack of invasion of the Green Belt and unquestionable economic benefit – it must be supported.”

Fuel efficient driving course, LoCity Driving, available now

A new driving course for HGV drivers and transport managers, which aims to help cut fuel costs and lower London’s pollution levels, has been launched this week by TfL.

Introduced under the auspices of the TfL-backed LoCity environmental programme, LoCity Driving is intended to aid HGV and van drivers, as well as transport managers, in cutting their vehicles’ environmental impact and slashing their fuel costs.

The DVSA-approved and CPC-accredited training course is delivered as a one-day classroom-based session with separate e-learning modules.

The areas covered include: the relationship between driving style, fuel consumption and environmental impact; how regular maintenance and vehicle checks can cut costs and emissions; fuel efficient driving techniques.

Drivers and operators can book LoCity Driving course and find out more by emailing:

LoCity has already released a number of eco-driving videos to aid operators and drivers alike.

Last chance to book your free place at Freight in the City Spring Summit

Freight in the City Spring Summit is now only a few days away and promises to be a must-attend networking opportunity for anybody interested in improving last-mile deliveries in towns and cities.

More than 500 visitors from across the public and private sector have signed up to attend the one-day conference and exhibition on 1 March at Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham.

Speakers from the UK and mainland Europe will be leading the debate on better ways to handle urban deliveries, while the exhibition will bring you the very latest vehicles, equipment and services for city fleets.

Doors open at 8.15, with a delicious bacon or egg roll waiting for you courtesy of Mercedes-Benz and Fuso Trucks UK, so make sure you get there early to look around the exhibition.

Freight in the City Spring Summit ‘Improving the last mile’ is supported by the Urban Transport Group, Transport for West Midlands, Mercedes-Benz and Fuso Trucks UK.

There is still time to reserve your free place to attend, so make sure you do so today, and we’ll look forward to welcoming you next week!




Shell opens its first hydrogen filling station

Shell yesterday [22 Feb] opened its first retail hydrogen filling station, at Cobham services on the M25 in Surrey.

The facility, located at the edge of the regular fuel station is completely autonomous, creating hydrogen on-site from tap water and electricity.

With certified renewable electricity and no transport requirement, Shell claims the whole hydrogen supply and usage process is zero-emission.

Shell is close to opening two more facilities, at Beaconsfield and Gatwick. The government is committed to 65 being in place by 2020.

The facility provides hydrogen at two pressures through two different types of nozzle, at 350bar and 700bar, the latter being normal for automotive systems.

Being pressurised, the process is slightly more involved than pumping diesel and more akin to LPG pumps.

The pump and vehicle communicate via an infra-red system, and once payment is authorised and the nozzle is connected, one button press checks pressure integrity and available capacity before filling the tank.

The system was demonstrated on a Toyota Mirai, taking around 3 minutes in total to fill its 5kg tank, enough for a range of up to 450 miles.

The price is currently £9.99/kg, with Shell’s target being £7/kg as sales volumes increase.

Chicken and the egg

Freight in the City sister title Commercial Motor has already driven a Renault hydrogen fuel cell truck, which was almost production ready.

It seemed to be the perfect zero-emissions vehicle, just awaiting a practical refuelling infrastructure.

Scania also has vehicles undergoing operational trials. With this in mind, we asked Shell if it had plans to provide suitable filling stations (although with plenty of space and a 3.2 metre-high canopy the existing design could be accessible for most middleweight rigid distribution trucks).

As expected, we discovered a chicken-and-egg situation, whereby Shell is prepared to provide the outlets once the demand exists.

However, the integration of these initial pumps into everyday filling stations is definitely a major step in the right direction.