Daimler starts European small series production of 7.5-tonne all-electric truck

Daimler has begun small series production of its all-electric, light-duty Fuso eCanter truck for the European and US markets.

The electric trucks will be built at the group’s production plant in Tramagal, Portugal, with the first vehicles being handed over to customers this autumn.

Marc Llistosella, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation and head of Daimler Trucks Asia, said: “With the start of the production of the eCanter, we become the first global manufacturer to produce an all-electric truck in series.

“From now on we can address the growing demand for locally emission-free delivery trucks in mega-cities.”

He added: “We already received the first customer orders and will mark the global launch of this truck in one of the most iconic mega-cities, New York, this September.”

Daimler said the 7.5-tonne eCanter provides an answer to the need for a zero-emission and zero-noise truck for urban operation.

It has a range of 100km and a payload up to 4.5 tonnes depending on body type and usage. The vehicle’s electric powertrain contains six high-voltage lithium ion battery packs with 420V and 13.8 kWh each.

The European production line follows in the footsteps of the Kawasaki plant in Japan, which started building trucks earlier this month (7 July).

Seven-Eleven Company will be the first commercial operator in Japan, with 25 units in the fleet by the end of the year.

At last month’s Frevue conference it was claimed that switching to electric freight vehicles in London could deliver significant cost-savings for operators.

Royal Mail orders 100 Partner L2 Electric vans

Royal Mail household delivery

Royal Mail has signed an agreement with Peugeot to buy 100 Partner L2 Electric vans, to be used by postal workers on their delivery rounds.

The vans will be in service from December at delivery offices around the UK, supported by what the operator described as “a comprehensive rollout of charging infrastructure”.

Paul Gatti, Royal Mail fleet director, said: “Our research has shown that electric vans are a good operational fit with our business and we are delighted to be ordering such a large volume to use in our daily operations.

“This is good news for our customers and the towns and cities we serve. It also means we are on the front foot for future changes in emissions legislation.”

PSA Group fleet director Martin Gurney said: “The order was won after Royal Mail carried out extensive trials with the Partner Electric.

“It’s a tribute to their performance in the trials that Peugeot vans will soon be helping Royal Mail to reduce the environmental impact of its delivery fleet.”

The electric vans will be direct replacements for vehicles that have reached the end of their operational life.

Royal Mail is also investigating the use of electric vehicle technology for larger commercial vehicles to move mail within its network.

The move comes as the government set out plans to ban conventional diesel and petrol engines from 2040.

See Van Advisor for its First Drive of the Peugeot Partner.

DfT proposes extra weight for clean van technology in driving licence reform

Drivers would be permitted to operate heavier, low-emission vans on a standard category B (car) driving licence under new DfT proposals.

The plans have been developed to encourage adoption of non-diesel vans by operators as part of the government’s drive to improve air quality in urban areas.

Currently, a motorist with an ordinary category B licence for a car can drive a van weighing up to 3,500kg.

However alternative fuel technology, especially making use of battery technology, is generally heavier than conventional diesel systems.

This reduces the amount of goods vehicles can carry or means van drivers have to apply for a category C licence with the associated costs and medical report requirements.

In a consultation launched today, the DfT wants to allow motorists to drive vans weighing up to 4,250kg if they are powered by electricity, natural gas, LPG or hydrogen.

It says this will help level the playing field by addressing the payload penalty that currently puts operators of cleaner vans at a commercial disadvantage compared to conventional vehicles.

Transport minister Jesse Norman said: “Vans have become essential to our economy and are vital for our builders, small businesses and delivery drivers.

“We have more of them on our roads than ever before. That’s a good sign for the economy, but our challenge is to try to tackle their impact on air quality.

“We want to make it easier for businesses to opt for cleaner vehicles, and these proposals are designed to do just that.”

Road traffic estimates show there has been a rapid rise in light goods vehicle traffic over the last 20 years.

In 2016, vans clocked up 49.1 billion vehicle miles – an increase of 23% when compared with 2006.

Ocado head of fleet Stuart Skingsley said: “At Ocado, we are very keen to incorporate the latest low-emission technologies in our vehicle fleet, but we have been unable to do so, due to the extra weight of the technology and category B licence restrictions.

“This vital derogation would allow us to field the latest alternatively fuelled vans, reducing harmful emissions and improving the UK’s air quality,” he added.

The consultation will run until 18 October.


Clarity needed on clean air zone restrictions, says FTA

A lack of clarity over which vehicles will be affected by clean air zones (CAZs) could be disastrous for operators, the FTA has warned.

The association spoke out in the wake of the government’s latest air quality improvement plan, released yesterday, and said it feared the lack of distinction could put operators out of business.

The document outlines different categories of CAZs, each of which would charge different vehicles for entering, and confirms that five cities other than London must implement measures before the end of next year.

But the government has left local authorities to decide which categories of zone will be implemented, meaning it’s too early to tell what penalties fleet operators are likely to face going forwards.

FTA’s director of UK policy Elizabeth de Jong said: “Uncertainty will hurt the industry – the FTA understands we won’t know where lorries and vans will be restricted until next year, giving only a year for businesses to plan their fleets, leaving many with potentially large bills on top of rising operating costs in a difficult trading environment.”

The association added that if vans are included in CAZs, diesel vehicles would need to be Euro-6 to comply.

There are just two years’ worth of vehicles available in that space, however, and no established second hand market.

De Jong added: “For those whose businesses operate inside a zone, a period of grace, giving them extra time to comply, would provide much-needed breathing space.

“Our worst fear is that some may be forced out of business altogether if the plans are not properly thought through.”

First clean air zones for 2019 as part of air quality plan

Birmingham will get one of the first clean air zones

The government has confirmed that the first five clean air zones (CAZs) will be in place by the end of 2019.

Its long-awaited – and controversial – plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations was published today, with its headline promise being a UK-wide ban on diesel cars and vans by 2040.

However, within the report is confirmation that Birmingham (pictured), Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton will be expected to push ahead with previous proposals to introduce CAZs.

The local authorities are expected to publish their initial plans within eight months and finalise them by December 2018, ready for implementation.

Once in play, any trucks or diesel vans not meeting the Euro-6 standard will be required to pay a penalty charge to enter the designated CAZ.

In Southampton this has been proposed as £200.

The government plans puts the onus on local authorities to tackle air pollution, although a national framework document for doing so is planned.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has also drawn up a list of the 29 worst-offending areas. One is London, which with its ULEZ plans is effectively excluded from these measures.

It expects to take action to achieve statutory NO2 levels “within the shortest possible time” using a range of measures up to a chargeable CAZ.

Areas on the priority list include Coventry, Manchester, Bath, Bristol, Sheffield, Guildford and North Tyneside.

Research has suggested that CAZs will affect smaller fleets the most.

HGVs excluded from 2040 diesel ban, but could see changes to road user levy

HGVs are not included in the 2040 new diesel vehicle ban, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed, but has said it intends to include them in the future.

Regarding the government’s air quality improvement plan released today (26 July), a Defra spokesman told Freight in the City: “For now it just includes cars and panel vans, but it is our intention to get to a point where we can include all new diesel vehicles in that ban.

“It’s our ambition that all new vehicles will be zero-emission by 2040.”

However the new air quality plan, which includes a ban on conventional petrol but not hybrids, does hint at future revisions to the HGV Road User Levy.

It stated: “The government will consider changes to the HGV Road User Levy so that it incentivises improved environmental performance, including air quality and carbon emissions.”

The document also suggests the government will consider the “appropriate tax treatment for diesel vehicles” ahead of this year’s autumn budget, which may go some way towards funding air quality improvement.

Instead of making any new provisions for tackling poor air quality, the government said funding would come from “changes to tax treatment for new diesel vehicles, or through reprioritisation within existing departmental budgets”.

Responses to a consultation into the draft air quality plan, released in May, favoured the idea of a scrappage scheme for all diesel vehicles.

However the government’s new plan claims such a scheme would be bad value for money for taxpayers.

It added that it would not proceed with a scrappage programme – something the industry has called for – unless it could find a way of doing so that was able to target those most in need of help, that was fair to the tax payer, and not open to fraud or abuse.

O’Donovan Waste Disposal opts for LoCity Driving course to reduce emissions

O’Donovan Waste Disposal is to put its 90-strong driver workforce through a LoCity Driving training scheme designed to reduce the environmental impact of commercial vehicles.

The DVSA-approved course focuses on reducing the emissions of vans and HGVs through the use of pre-journey planning and vehicle checks, fuel-efficient driving, and alternative fuels.

It has been developed by LoCity, Fors and TfL and can contribute towards a driver’s mandatory 35 hours of periodic training required for their Driver CPC.

Two LoCity e-learning modules are also available to help drivers and transport managers:

  • ‘Time to clean up’ provides drivers with more information about fuel-efficient driving techniques and other strategies to help reduce costs and emissions.
  • ‘Time to look ahead’ is aimed at transport managers who can learn about the benefits and drawbacks of a range of alternatively-fuelled vehicles.

O’Donovan Waste Disposal will deliver the training in-house through a workshop at its Tottenham-based HQ run by MD Jacqueline O’Donovan (pictured below at last year’s Freight in the City Expo), who is herself a certified trainer.

“O’Donovan prides itself on setting industry benchmarks with regards to its training and compliance,” she said, “and as such this course not only benefits the O’Donovan drivers, but will also reduce the impact of our commercial vehicles on the environment by sharing techniques and best practice with the drivers attending.”

LoCity freight and fleet programme manager Fergus Worthy added: “LoCity Driving is a cost-effective training solution for van and HGV drivers. I’m delighted that O’Donovan has chosen to implement LoCity Driving to help reduce fuel use and emissions.”

LoCity roadshow helps operators switch on to electric commercial vehicles

Enabling freight operators to unlock the potential of electric vehicles (EVs) in their fleets was the focus of a recent LoCity roadshow held in East London.

The event was the first in a series of four alternative-fuel workshops provided by TfL to support its industry-led LoCity programme.

LoCity was launched last year to help the freight sector prepare for the capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone 
in 2020.

Delegates at the roadshow heard from London-based operators at Hackney Council, Clear Channel and Heathrow Airport about their real-life experiences and learning curves in running EVs.

Useful tips shared included:
■ Range – it is essential to make sure you pick the right routes for the vehicles: relatively predictable, low average speed and returning to base at night. Also take into account weather conditions.
■ Maintenance – savvy operators can drive down third-party maintenance costs, because much less routine servicing is needed compared with ICE counterparts.
■ Silent technology – drivers love the quiet running of the vehicles and experience less fatigue. However, it is important to factor in additional safety measures for pedestrians who might not hear them approaching.

Understanding the charging and power requirements was also a key focus of the day, as this is often cited as one of the main challenges facing operators considering switching to EVs.

UK Power Networks helped operators understand the steps they might need to take if looking to install recharging points at their sites and used the event to  launch a guide about the options available when connecting to the electricity network.

They explained that requirements would vary depending on factors such as whether an operator is thinking about charging a single vehicle overnight, multiple vehicles, or requires rapid charging facilities on site.

TfL principal strategy planner Judith Hayton, meanwhile, explained the work taking place in London to significantly increase the capital’s public charging network, with at least 300 rapid charging points in place by 2020.

A range of 10 electric freight vehicles were exhibited on the day – from small utility trucks supplied by Bradshaw Electric Vehicles through to a converted tractor unit with an Emoss all-electric driveline and 2.5-litre LPG gas range extender – and everything in between.

Operators were encouraged to talk to all the manufacturers and suppliers about the best electric models for their own fleet requirements and learn all they could about range, maintenance and running costs.

Headline sponsor Mercedes-Benz Trucks shared its commitment to electrification across all vehicle ranges and confirmed that by 2025, a quarter of all vehicles in the Daimler group would be electric.

Its 7.5-tonne all-electric eCanter will be operating with customers in London from September, with series production to start in 2019. “We see this being one of the mainstays of our business going forward”, said national key account manager Paul Robertson.

Fergus Worthy (pictured), freight and fleet programme project manager at TfL, said: “The first LoCity Roadshow was a great success, bringing together fleets, electric vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, and infrastructure providers.

“The London mayor wants to work towards a zero-carbon city, so transport managers should start thinking about the implications of operating EVs.”

He added that through the series of roadshows, as well as training, online tools and case studies, “LoCity is helping fleets make informed decisions about their vehicle choice”.

If you are interested in finding out more about the use of EVs in you fleet, why not get in touch with LoCity to find out about any trials, cost analysis and technical guidance you might require: locity.org.uk

The next LoCity roadshow taking place will focus on gas-powered CVs and will be held on 21 September at the Twickenham Stoop Stadium. To register your interest to attend, please email: locityroadshows.co.uk




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.

Northern cities need more attention in air quality debate, say researchers

More attention must be paid to air quality outside of London, according to a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Speaking about the report – Gearing up for the Transition – researcher Darren Baxter said: “Toxic air is killing up to 40,000 children and adults a year. Too little attention is paid to this key issue, especially outside the capital.”

The report highlights congestion as a key issue, holding it accountable for costs of £2bn a year in lost productivity in Manchester and Liverpool.

The report was released in anticipation of the government’s clean air strategy, which it must publish before the end of the month.

RHA director of policy Jack Semple agreed discussion of the issue is often London-centric, but for good reason.

He told Freight in the City: “The reason London has so much coverage is not just because it is the UK’s biggest city by far, but because its congestion costs have been rising calamitously.”

Semple added there should be “greater recognition that Euro-6 trucks perform to standard and that NOx emissions are plummeting as a result”.

Jonathan Spruce, head of policy and strategy at Transport for the North, said: “Transport for the North recognises that the current position, with all but two of the 11 UK air quality reporting zones in the North exceeding legal limits on NOx, needs addressing.”