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.”

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.



Next generation Taxi paves way for LCV range

The next generation of London’s iconic black cab has been unveiled, paving the way for an LCV range.

With the launch of TX eCity taxi, the company name has also changed from LTC to LEVC.

This reflects the ambition of the company’s owner, the Chinese Geely automobile manufacturing giant, which has also owned the Volvo car brand since 2010, to create the “urban commercial vehicle provider of choice”.

Next summer it will be expanding its offering to include an as yet unspecified LCV. It is powered by an electric battery powertrain with a 1.3-litre petrol generator.

Called eCity, the range-extender can charge from empty to almost full in 20 minutes. Fast charging will take approximately two hours, or between eight to 10 hours on a trickle charge.

This will provide up to 400 miles of range, including 70 miles with zero tailpipe emissions.

HGV emissions still too high says climate change committee

The Committee on Climate Change is calling for a renewed drive to cut HGV emissions after noting that transport emissions are continuing to rise despite improvements in technology.

The call is made in the committee’s report to parliament, Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change, which was published this week.

It criticises the government for dragging its feet on delivering action strategies laid out in the Climate Change Act 2008.

It also warns that the UK is in danger of missing its target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 57% by 2030, compared to the level in 1990.

To date the UK has cut emissions by 42% since 1990.

It raises concerns that some sectors, including transport, could do more to cut emissions.

It states: “Most of the UK success in reducing emissions to date comes from sharp reductions in the power and waste sectors. Despite improvements in technology, emissions in the transport and building sectors are rising.”

The report sets out where the government must take action to meet its emissions target.

Its recommendations include a number of transport policies including new measures to support emissions reduction from HGVs, and new vehicle efficiency standards requiring electric options for smaller trucks.

The committee also wants to see new policies to create more efficient logistics, increased uptake of eco-driving measures, and a shift to lower-carbon modes such as rail freight.

The report praises those local authorities where measures to reduce urban emissions have been introduced but warns that a supportive national framework, which includes strategic and regulatory decisions and funding, is vital if progress is to be made nationally.

It also warns that carbon-cutting opportunities arising from leaving the EU, such as reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the ability to develop jobs based on a low carbon economy “will require clear strategic thinking, but time and resources risk being in short supply given other pressing demands ahead of the UK formally leaving the EU”.

The FTA said the report showed there is “still much work to do to get significant carbon reduction from freight”.

The association called on the government to introduce measures such as longer or heavier lorries, rail and water freight infrastructure investment and the roll-out of alternative road fuel infrastructure, with tax benefits to encourage faster take up.

FTA national policy head Christopher Snelling said: “In contrast to air quality where we have achieved an 80% reduction in local air pollutants from the latest diesel HGVs, progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is clearly slower and in many ways a harder problem to solve.”

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


DfT says electric and hydrogen trucks are the future

The DfT sees electric and hydrogen vehicles as the fuels of the future for the freight, and wants to work with industry to get it to “get this sector moving up to speed”.

Vicky Edmonds, deputy director for environmental strategy at DfT, said the department wasn’t clear on how it will make freight a zero emission industry, and asked whether more could be done in the short-term while it looks for the answers.

She asked: “Are we really at the limit of what we think industry can do when it comes to emissions behaviours and technologies, and how can we in government support that?”

“Long-term  we think the future is a mixture of electric batteries – battery technology is improving quite fast and we hope we could see 44-tonne trucks running on batteries. And hydrogen fuel cells, there’s a problem with supply but how can we handle that?”

She added that government wants to think more on dynamic charging on motorways.

“We’ve not really done much with it in the UK and I think we need to start thinking about our role in that.

“Are we going to have tram lines running along sections of motorways and city centres? Or are we going to have inductive loops under the road? Does industry think it’s a good idea or a bad idea?
“These are the conversations we’d really like to start having with you, about how we get this sector moving up to speed.”

One of the big obstacles to getting electric trucks on the road is the size of batteries vs the height and weight restrictions HGVs have to meet in the UK.

Edmonds told Freight in the City the DfT won’t change these to encourage electric vehicle design.

She said: “At the moment the discussions are the batteries would be enormous, and the idea is that technology and the development of batteries is going to improve so much that you won’t necessarily have that problem.

“So I think it’s about what the future looks like for the industry and how we get there, not to tackle an immediate hurdle.”