UPS talks urban delivery trials ahead of Freight in the City Birmingham Summit

UPS director of sustainability for Europe, Peter Harris, shares some of the work taking place across European cities ahead of his appearance at Freight in the City Spring Summit next month.

Global parcel carrier UPS is to trial a brand-new urban delivery concept in London this year.

The company plans to operate new electrically-assisted cargo containers in London’s busy Westminster area, in an effort to reduce the emissions and congestion associated with increasing van usage in the capital.

Technology used on the ‘e-trailer’ is termed net neutral, so the weight of the trailer is not felt by the handler, allowing for increased volumes of last-mile deliveries by foot or cycling.

The trailer is being developed through the Low Impact City Logistics project, which is part of a £10m research investment by InnovateUK for collaborative R&D to improve end-to-end people and freight journeys.

It is planned that a number of the e-trailers would be preloaded at the UPS centre in Camden before being brought in on a larger trailer towed behind a normal delivery vehicle for helpers to then make the final mile  by foot or cycle.

Peter Harris (pictured), director of sustainability for Europe  at UPS, tells Freight in the City that the concept for the trailers was a natural extension to an urban delivery operation that has been running in Hamburg, Germany for a number of years.

This sees a number of urban micro depots – large containers, much like the size used for sea freight – positioned around the city.

The containers hold enough volume for several helpers to work from throughout the day, delivering parcels by foot, bike or e-trike.

The helpers also collect parcels from residents and businesses in the city centre and return them to the containers for pick-up at the end of the day by one lorry.

“So, instead of it being trucks moving around in the city all day, it’s one truck in and one truck out, and the rest of the time we’re using zero-truck transport, which is the ambition to try and get trucks out of the city and the emissions and congestion that go with them,” explains Harris.

The Hamburg model is now being expanded to other European cities.

Mega city

“But when we came to thinking about London, we thought we probably need a slightly different approach here,” says Harris.

One of the key challenges was London’s density, he says, as a mega city, with the option of siting a number of large containers on valuable road or pavement space being unlikely.

Also, the option to deliver by trike might prove tricky in London’s bustling streets, making foot delivery with an e-trailer a more practical proposition.

To overcome all these challenges, UPS is working within a consortium including the University of Huddersfield, Westminster City Council, Fernhay, Skotkonung and Outspoken Delivery to develop the e-trailer technology and prototype.

“At our central London depot in Camden, the e-trailers will be positioned  on the belt just as our normal trucks are” says Harris.

“The trailers will then go down-town already loaded into drop order.”

To avoid the need to drop-off large container units across the city, e-trailers will be delivered by a transfer trailer pulled by a regular distribution truck. This will likely hold around six units, although this has not yet been finalised.

Timescale for rollout of the e-trailers has yet to be confirmed, but will take place this year.

Urban focus

The project is just one element of the move towards sustainable deliveries taking place in the UK by UPS.

For example, the company has just deployed its 52nd electric truck in London

“They’re mostly conversions from diesel, which is quite interesting in its own right because a version of the style and configuration that we wanted didn’t exist, so we developed our own  working with a German technology firm called EFA-S,” says Harris.

UPS carries out the strip-down and refurbishment of the older trucks used itself ahead of the electric conversion by EFA-S.

The company has received funding through its work on the FREVUE project that aims to establish the feasibility of electric commercial vehicles in real-life operations across Europe.

Project work has included significant expenditure to overcome the challenges of charging multiple electric vehicles from the grid at one time.

“We actually went through a major expenditure in London to achieve this. We don’t want to do this again as it’s very expensive and it’s not moveable. Nor is it incremental.

“So what we’re proposing instead is a smart grid facility that would connect our vehicles to the grid in an intelligent way and look for available capacity within the existing supply,” Harris says.

“If we can make that work, and we are hoping to do it in conjunction with UK Power Networks Services, then it could potentially open up a completely new realm of opportunity for urban electrification.”


The company is also planning to introduce 15 more range-extended electric 7.5-tonne Tevva Motors trucks into its fleet (pictured).

And gas-powered trucks are also a key player in the UPS alternative-fuelled fleet, with the company operating 19 HGVs on LNG from its Tamworth depot.

“The challenge is that we want to run them on renewable gas, but it’s just not available in liquid form. So we’ve had to fall back on LNG” says Harris.

“There needs to be new infrastructure put in place to capitalise on this new market.”

Harris believes the UK is well placed to be a leader in terms of renewable fuels expertise, with a political framework supportive of driving such developments forward.

As such, the UK continues to be a pivotal market for UPS to trial new emerging technologies and developments.



Fleetdrive Electric heads to Freight in the City Birmingham to help operators switch to ULEVs

Fleetdrive Electric will be heading to Freight in the City Spring Summit next month to share its experience in ultra-low-emission vehicle (ULEV) leasing packages.

A ‘Go Ultra Low’ company, the firm said its team’s extensive knowledge of ULEVs can provide vital support and guidance for fleets looking to make the switch to electric.

Offering a free and impartial fleet analysis, Fleetdrive Electric can identify practical operational uses where electric vehicles could generate long-term savings for an organisation.

It can deliver advanced CO2 reporting, cost-comparisons with petrol/diesel alternatives to highlight the whole-life vehicle costs and efficiencies, and offer effective recommendations to reduce the environmental impact of a client’s fleet.

The company can also identify the most suitable vehicles available for your business needs, offer information about charging options and grants, ensure you get optimum performance from an electric vehicle and support you with practical operational advice.

Fleetdrive offers all makes and models of cars and vans available in the UK and, being completely independent of any manufacturer or franchised dealer group, said it provides unbiased advice to make sure you get the best value for money.

Driver training is also offered, as well as carbon footprint monitoring and accurate forecasting data.

“Our unique EV flexi-lease service enables fleet operators looking to explore how electric vehicles can realistically add benefit to their organisation to take a trial on a commitment-free flexible lease arrangement,” a spokeswoman said.

“With extendable contracts from as little as 30 days, electric cars and vans can be tried and tested within a practical environment to fully assess the feasibilities. It also provides an eco-friendly solution for short-term vehicle rental.”

Fleetdrive Electric will be on hand to talk to visitors about making the switch to ULEVs at Freight in the City Spring Summit held on 1 March at Edgbaston Stadium.

Make sure to reserve your free place today!

By David Craik

Howard Tenens to operate UK’s first 26-tonne dedicated gas rigid trucks in Innovate trial

Howard Tenens is to operate the UK’s first pair of 26-tonne rigid dedicated gas trucks under the government’s £20m Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial.

Working in a consortium led by gas specialist Air Liquide, the operator will use the government grant funding to purchase the two new Scania rigids that will run entirely on biomethane.

The trucks will operate out of Howard Tenens’ Swindon depot and be used on a number of its main contracts such as Toolstation, Honda and Cotswolds Outdoors.

Howard Tenens has been an early adopter of gas-fuelled trucks on its fleet, taking part in previous government-funded trials of the technology enabling the firm to run 36 dual-fuel gas/diesel vehicles.

However, in line with industry advances in technology and research into gas-fuelled trucks, the company believes dedicated biomethane vehicles will deliver much greater environmental benefits.

Ben Morris, executive director at Howard Tenens, said: “Adding these new trucks to the Howard Tenens fleet seemed like a natural development in our ongoing journey to use gas vehicles.

“These new vehicles will reduce carbon emissions by around 70% compared to a normal diesel engine and is the most viable option available to us for reducing our carbon footprint.”

Howard Tenens said it as has overcome the availability issue associated with gas by investing in a gas refuelling station at its depot in Swindon, where the two new trucks will be based.

The operator has also partnered with a local company, Advanced Plasma Power, which will supply sustainably produced biomethane for the trial.

Advanced Plasma Power will produce the biomethane from its plasma gasification plant, turning household rubbish into the gas needed to fuel the two vehicles.

Not only does this process reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfill in the local community, but it also generates a clean and sustainable fuel.

Rolf Stein, CEO at Advanced Plasma Power, said: “The biomethane project sets out with a goal to provide sustainable and low cost solutions to the challenges of decarbonising heating and transport.”

The new trucks will join the fleet later this year and be closely monitored throughout the trial to assess if their performance meets operational and environmental targets.

If successful, Howard Tenens will look to add more to its wider fleet.

Smith Electric Vehicles ceases trading – or does it?

Smith Electric Vehicles has ceased all operations due to lack of funding, according to a statement issued by one its shareholders this week.

Tanfield Group, which owns 5.76% of share capital in the electric truck firm, said: “In August 2016, the board of Smith stated that it planned to centralise its operations in the United States while retaining a presence in the UK as a branch of Smith USA Corp, but due to a lack of funding, it recently ceased all activity in both the United States and the UK.”

Tanfield had previously taken the decision for the year ended 31 December 2015 to “impair the investment value of Smith to nil” due to the uncertainty around its future and the level of funding it required. understands that the CEO of Smith Electric Vehicles, John Dixon, has retired from the board and that the remaining members are exploring possible funding options.

“The board of Smith also stated that there was no guarantee they will be successful in raising the required funds and that without funding it is unlikely that Smith would remain solvent,” Tanfield added.

In an exclusive interview with Freight in the City last year, the company shared its comeback plans as it believed the time was right for industry to embrace electric trucks.

Its aim was to bring its latest generation of electric trucks to the UK this spring, thanks to a fresh injection of funding from a US investor.

Smith Electric Vehicles, responded and said that “we have paused the operation – not ceased it – and the board are working on getting the company back on track”.

DfT to pilot fleet review scheme to help small hauliers cut fuel usage

The government is to launch a pilot HGV fleet review scheme to encourage smaller hauliers to cut fuel usage through increased driver training and in-cab technology.

The pilot is one of a range of measures aimed at cutting road freight emissions which are outlined in the DfT’s recently published Freight Carbon Review.

The review looks at ways the road freight industry can cut its emissions. These are estimated to make up 17% of carbon emissions and 21% of NOx emissions in the UK.

It is part of wider government plans to slash UK emissions by at least 80% by 2050.

The pilot HGV fleet review scheme will be run by the Energy Savings trust.

It has been prompted by evidence that smaller operators are significantly less likely to invest in either driver training or telematics equipment.

The pilot will deliver a five-day bespoke training course for participating fleets.

Freight Carbon Review

Other measures outlined in the review include confirmation that the longer semi-trailer (LST) trial will be extended, and a government pledge to work with the FTA to encourage smaller hauliers to sign up to its Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme.

The review also set out plans to introduce laws to allow Category B driving licence holders operating alternatively-fuelled vans of up to 4.2-tonnes to carry an extra tonne in weight, to account for the heavier drivetrains.

Incentives to encourage hauliers to use cleaner, quieter vehicles in Clean Air Zones are also on the agenda.

The FTA welcomed the review and called on both government and the freight industry to make greater efforts to help cut freight emissions.

Christopher Snelling, FTA head of national and regional policy, said: “Making the switch to alternative fuels is challenging for many operators, with a lack of public refuelling infrastructure and the expense of new technology, so we need further government support.

“Industry, too, must play its part. Year-on-year, Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme (LCRS) members outperform the sector as a whole when it comes to carbon reduction.”


Waitrose introduces ten Scania CNG trucks to its fleet

Waitrose has introduced ten Scania compressed natural gas (CNG) powered trucks, which it is claimed will cut the retailer’s fuel costs by up to £1m and its CO2 emissions by 5,000 tonnes over five years.

The Scanias, P340 4x2s, are believed to be the first HGVs in Europe to use 26-inch diameter twin carbon fibre fuel tanks, which store gas at 250 bar of pressure.

This allows the trucks to compete with their diesel equivalents by increasing their range to up to 500 miles.

The technology, which was developed by Scania and US-based Agility Fuel Solutions, uses biomethane, a gas that emits 70% less Co2 than a conventional diesel engine.

Fuel for the vehicles will be supplied by renewable fuel supplier CNG Fuels.

Waitrose estimates each truck, which costs 50% more than its diesel equivalent, will repay the extra costs in two to three years through fuel savings per truck of around £15,000 to £20,000 per annum.

Justin Laney, John Lewis Partnership central transport general manager, said the trucks “deliver significant environmental and operational benefits to our business.  It’s much cleaner and quieter than diesel, and we can run five gas trucks for the same emissions as one diesel lorry”.

Philip Fjeld,  CNG Fuels chief executive, said the long distance range made the trucks a “game changer for road transport operators”.

He added: “High pressure carbon-fibre fuel tanks demolish the ‘range anxiety’ concerns that have made many hauliers reluctant to move away from diesel to CNG.”

David Burke, UK gas for Scania specialist sales executive, said: “Together with Waitrose and CNG Fuels we are developing a new UK market sector for dedicated gas vehicles which we believe will supersede the heavier dual-fuel models seen up until now.”

H2ME project puts 60 Renault Kangoo fuel cell vans into operation

The first 100 fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) deployed through the €170m Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME) project are now on the road in Germany, France and the UK.

H2ME brings together eight European countries to help make the market ready for hydrogen mobility and is the largest-scale project of its kind.

Its key activities include market testing of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure; deployment of hundreds of fuel cell electric cars and commercial vehicles in real-life operations; demonstration of the system benefits generated by using electrolytic hydrogen solutions in grid operations.

A total of 60 Symbio Renault Kangoo ZE-H2 range-extended fuel cell vans have hit the roads in the UK and France to help support the development of a network of hydrogen refuelling stations in those markets.

Powered by a 5kW fuel cell module, coupled with a hydrogen storage unit and medium-size automotive battery pack, Symbio’s range-extender kit doubles the reach of Renault’s electric-only Kangoo ZE model to 320km (around 200 miles).

Symbio said that in specialised markets where zero emissions and daily operation are critical, Kangoo ZE-H2 customers are now winning business over their competitors.

It added that to perform last-mile delivery in cities that prohibit polluting transport, hydrogen provides unique features compared to pure battery-based utility vehicles.

For example, last September, French delivery firm CETUP’s Symbio-equipped Kangoo ZE-H2 broke a range record by covering 367km with a fully loaded battery and a full hydrogen tank.

In the next few years, the H2ME project will roll-out the next generation of FCEVs, including Symbio’s latest fuel cell range-extender vans and also trucks.

In total, more than 1,400 FCEVs will be deployed throughout the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.

Pierre-Yves Le-Berre, VP, Symbio, said: “Our ambition is to equip all urban delivery centres with our vehicles to guarantee the absence of harmful emissions, as well as address new market trends and regulations.

“For instance, if a delivery centre used a Renault Kangoo equipped with our range extender, driving 200km a day in Paris, it would remove the carbon emissions of 20 private vehicles.”

Ben Madden, Element Energy, overall coordinator of the H2ME scheme, said: “We are proud of the rapid progress our partners have made in deploying this technology, which can accelerate Europe’s move to clean transportation.”



DfT backs dedicated gas-powered truck technology

The government should continue to back the development of gas-powered trucks, according to a DfT study.

The study found that Euro-6 dedicated gas powered trucks produce almost half as much nitrogen oxides (NOx) and less than one third of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) than diesel powered Euro-6 trucks.

The study, Emissions Testing of Gas-Powered Commercial Vehicles,  carried out by the DfT and the Low Carbon vehicle Partnership, also found evidence that diesel powered Euro-6 vehicles are pumping out “higher than expected” nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions and called for further investigations.

The study tested a range of both dedicated and dual fuel trucks running on “natural gas”.

The tests found that Euro-6 dedicated gas vehicles produced  NOx emissions of around 135 mg/km, on average, compared to an average of around 230 mg/km  from the Euro-6 diesel comparators.

The vehicles also produced around 20 mg/km of NO2 emissions, less than one-third of the 78 mg/km produced on average by diesel comparators. They also produced “very little” methane.

The dual-fuel diesel and natural gas system retrofitted to a Euro-6 diesel vehicle for the study did not perform as well. It delivered increases in average NOx emissions and hydrocarbon (THC) emissions in dual-fuel mode compared to its diesel-only mode. Carbon monoxide (CO) emissions were lower though.

The dual-fuel diesel and LPG system retrofitted to a Euro-6 diesel vehicle performed better, producing lower NOx emissions in its dual fuel mode compared to its diesel-only mode, although CO and THC emissions increased.

The study concluded that dedicated gas vehicles “have potential to deliver significant greenhouse gas savings”.

“DfT should therefore continue to support the development of gas vehicle infrastructure and gas-powered vehicles, particularly dedicated gas,” it said.

Check out the latest speakers signed up to Freight in the City Birmingham on 1 March

More than 300 visitors have now registered to attend Freight in the City Spring Summit ‘Improving the last mile’ on 1 March in Birmingham.

The seminar programme is now confirmed with a strong line-up of speakers bringing together city officials and the logistics sector to promote sustainable urban freight movements.

Latest speakers joining the programme include RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding, presenting brand-new research investigating whether the surge in van traffic is the result of the online-shopping boom.

The research asks whether e-commerce is adding to congestion or actually reducing it as people do their buying from the comfort of their sofas rather than driving to the store?

Carrier Transicold’s Scott Dargan will examine the legislative changes related to the urban distribution of perishable produce and how transport refrigeration system manufacturers are rising to this challenge.

This will include insight into some of the latest and next-generation technologies which will help to minimise environmental impact, including the use of refrigerants with a lower global warming potential, alternative-fuel-powered refrigeration systems and engineless solutions.

You’ll also hear from Transport Systems Catapult about the importance of keeping pace with the latest data and technology developments bringing more efficiency to urban logistics.

“When we speak of the future innovations in freight logistics for urban areas, we mean the next few months rather than years; change is happening now, today,” said Andrew Traill, principal technologist, Transport Systems Catapult.

“If we want to prosper economically and if we want to resolve the challenges of urban growth and development, we have to embrace this change; and not just embrace and follow but, where we have expertise, we should also lead the way.”

Freight in the City Spring Summit is an ideal opportunity to network with your peers and make important new business connections, so why not take a look through the variety of organisations already registered to take part.

There will also be an exhibition of the latest equipment and services to make your city logistics operation run smoothly, as well as a small outdoor urban vehicle display area.

The event takes place on 1 March at Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham. Make sure you reserve your free place to attend today!

Ulemco to lead a £1.3m trial of dual-fuel hydrogen-powered vans and lorries

A range of large vans and lorries is to be converted to run on dual-fuel hydrogen as part of the government’s recently announced £20m Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial.

A consortium, led by hydrogen conversion firm Ulemco, has received £1.3m to demonstrate the emissions reduction and practical benefits to fleet operators of larger hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Collaborating with Liverpool-based Ulemco on the project are: Westminster City Council, Veolia, London Fire Brigade, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Commercial, Aberdeen City Council and Ocado.

Aberdeen City Council has a plan to convert a wide range of fleet vehicles to dual-fuel hydrogen, such as refuse trucks, HGV road sweepers and delivery vans.

The Scottish council has already invested in two hydrogen refuelling stations, a fleet of 10 hydrogen fuel cell buses, electric Transit vans with  fuel cell range extenders and a number of FCEV passenger cars.

Amanda Lyne, CEO of Ulemc, said: “We are delighted to receive another vote of confidence in hydrogen dual-fuel vehicles and their potential to deliver cleaner air for our towns and cities.

“There is good synergy with this project and the work we are leading to investigate adoption of mass market hydrogen commercial vehicles for China,” she added.

“In particular the diversity of application and partners in this project will really help to show how hydrogen dual-fuel can become a practical solution for a wide range of fleet operation.” can confirm that a total of 11 vehicles are to be deployed this year as part of the funded programme.

Ulemco already supports a fleet of 20 vehicles across a range of hydrogen hubs in the UK.

The company is targeting commercial fleet retrofits to boost the market over the next 18 months, and then expanding into other vehicle types longer term.