Royal Mail begins electric truck trial in London

Royal Mail has started a trial of nine autonomous-ready, fully-electric trucks in London.

The nine vehicles, a combination of 3.5-, 6- and 7.5-tonnes are the first to be built by automotive technology firm Arrival in partnership with Royal Mail.

The trucks will be operating out of Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant depot in London, which has been fitted with specialist charging points, for “several months”.

They will be used to transport packages between DCs in and around the city and have a zero-emission range of 100 miles.

Royal Mail said that between the lightweight materials used to build the vehicles and Arrival’s electric power technology, the vehicles cost 50% less to run than its current fleet.

The trucks are autonomous-ready and comply with London mayor Sadiq Khan’s Direct Vision Standard.

Royal Mail’s fleet MD Paul Gatti said: “Royal Mail is delighted to be collaborating with Arrival and pioneering the adoption of large electric commercial vehicles. We will be putting them through their paces over the next several months to see how they cope with the mail collection demands from our larger sites.

“We have trialled electric trucks before but not of this innovative design and look forward to seeing what additional benefits they can bring to our existing fleet of 49,000 vehicles.”

Arrival CEO Denis Sverdlov said: “We are thrilled to partner with Royal Mail using our electric vehicles. Cities like London will benefit from a switch to electric, in terms of both pollution and noise.

“Most importantly we are priced the same as diesel trucks removing the main barrier to go electric.”

Warwick University develops electric vehicle concept based on Renault Twizy

An electric vehicle concept for the urban delivery market has been developed by design company Astheimer and WMG, Warwick University’s R&D department.

Named the Deliver-E, the vehicle is based on a Renault Twizy platform, is fitted with a 48V 6.5kWh battery system with a peak power of 36kW, and has an open-platform vehicle control system with a touchscreen interface.

The battery system is the first module produced by WMG’s new automated battery production line for electric vehicles, developed as part of the Automated Module-to-pack Pilot Line for Industrial Innovation project, which has created a UK supply chain for hybrid and electric vehicle battery packs.

Astheimer developed the WMG concept, enlarging the vehicle’s rear storage area for three online delivery baskets. It also added new body panels to the Deliver-E and fitted it with programmable LED pixel strips, which can change colour for brake and indicator lights.

Astheimer founder and creative director Carsten Astheimer said: “The Deliver-E is the result of an intensive 10-week collaborative project between Astheimer and WMG to design and build an electric delivery vehicle prototype. This unique collaboration showcases the design and prototyping capabilities of Astheimer.

“We are working on several projects at the forefront of electric transportation and autonomous technology, anticipating the future of mobility, which will be dominated by electric vehicles as emission controls tighten and on-line acquisitions increase.”

Professor Dave Greenwood of WMG, said “It’s great to be able to showcase some of the technologies that we’re working on in a real driveable vehicle – this really helps us bring home the benefits of the technologies we develop at WMG, and helps industry see how they may adopt them.”

ULEMCo develops zero-emission fuel cell for Nissan van

ULMECO fuel cell for Nissan

Hydrogen engine retrofit company ULEMCo has developed a zero-emission fuel cell unit, which can be fitted to Nissan’s standard electric e-NV200 van to provide additional power.

ULEMCo is set to launch a fuel cell-based unit that will extend vehicle range to more than 150 miles when fully laden.

Using a 12kW fuel cell and 1.6 kg/day on-board hydrogen storage capability, the van will have almost twice the range of the standard e-NV200, measured to New European Driving Cycle standards, without sacrificing load space capacity.

ULEMCo’s fuel cell RX power module will be roof mounted, and provide motive power via the battery to support the drive load requirements for the base van.

ULEMCo CEO Amanda Lyne said: “We are excited to have completed our integration study for a zero-emission FC extended van. This UK-engineered solution will meet the need for a practical small van urban delivery operation.”

ULEMCo added the development was significant since the fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) is eligible for the Office for Low Emission Vehicles’s (OLEV) support scheme.

The OLEV Hydrogen for Transport Programme was launched last week to provide up to £23m of grant funding until 2020 to support the growth of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, alongside the deployment of new vehicles via an open competition for both Hydrogen Refuelling Stations and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Industry reacts to driving licence reform plans for clean van technology

A proposal to allow category B (car) driving licence holders to drive heavier vans, provided they run on an alternative fuel, has been welcomed by Gasrec.

The fuel supplier last year pushed the DfT to consider an additional 1-tonne allowance on the category B driving licence for drivers of low-emission vans, after the DfT revealed plans to allow an additional tonne of weight to accommodate alternative fuel technology.

Alternative fuel equipment is sometimes heavier than conventional diesel vehicle technology, and the plans will allow such vehicles to carry the same payload as a diesel van.

Gasrec CEO Rob Wood said: “Gasrec is pleased that the government is planning to remove barriers that are preventing the wider use of alternative-fuelled vehicles.

“The current driving licensing regime reduces the driver pool available for alternative-fuelled light goods vehicles as they often marginally exceed the 3.5 tonne licence limit for Category B licence holders. This places a cost and operational burden on the adoption of new technology despite the wide availability of suitable vehicles.

He added: “These vehicles have the potential to make a significant contribution to improving air quality in our urban areas and we fully support the introduction of an appropriate licence derogation to remove this adoption hurdle.”

However, van leasing provider Arval questioned whether it would place more responsibility on van drivers and operators.

“The question facing fleets is whether they feel it is responsible to place drivers with standard car licences into a vehicle with a mass that has previously been seen as requiring specialised training, and into something that is three-quarters of a tonne heavier, and twice as heavy as the largest cars,” said Arval LCV consultant Eddie Parker.

“Across the fleet sector, in recent years, the discussion has tended to be about whether the driving standards for larger CVs should be applied to smaller vehicles. This new proposal moves things in the opposite direction.”

In order to relax driver licensing rules, the UK would need to seek a temporary derogation from the EU Third Driving Licence Directive. Some EU states have already done this to allow category B licence holders to drive heavier vans.

LoCity invites freight operators to a free roadshow on gas-powered CVs

Operators considering using gas-powered vans or HGVs can find out all they need to know at the latest LoCity roadshow taking place on Thursday 21 September at Twickenham Stoop Stadium.

Free to attend, the roadshow is the second in a series of four events created for the freight industry to help operators understand how alternative fuels could be a viable choice today for their fleets.

It follows a successful event last month on electric commercial vehicles.

The gas roadshow will bring together operators of gas CVs, infrastructure providers and technology experts to provide practical advice on gas as an alternative to diesel.

Delegates will explore a line-up of the latest gas-powered vehicles on the market and be able to interact directly with manufacturers at the event.

Demand for the roadshows has been very high, so please do register your interest today if you would be interested in securing a place at

LoCity is a an industry-led programme, supported by TfL, to help the freight sector make the switch to alternative fuels ahead of the capital’s pending Ultra Low Emission Zone rollout in 2020.

Scherm Group’s 65-tonne all-electric truck delivers significant C02 savings

Terberg Electric 65-tonne GCW truck

The use of a 65-tonne, all-electric truck to make local deliveries to and from a BMW plant in Munich has removed 22 tonnes of CO2 from the route since its introduction in 2015.

Scherm Group has been using the fully electric Terberg YT202-EV terminal tractor to transport materials to its local BMW plant 3km away in a two-shift operation, eight times per day, five days a week.

Since 2015, the truck has completed 3,000 trips totalling 17,000km and has helped Scherm save 8,000 litres of diesel and 22 tonnes of CO2.

“We are really satisfied with the e-truck,” said Ulf Frenzel, fleet manager for Scherm Group. “We wanted to prove that electric mobility also works in freight transport, and we achieved our goal.”

The fully-electric tractor is equipped with a three-phase synchronous motor (614V) with a maximum power rating of 188hp and a fully automatic Allison 3000 Series transmission.

Allison said its automatic transmission is the key to the driveline: the truck has to launch with a gross combination weight of up to 65 tonnes and achieve maximum speed as quickly as possible to meet the tight delivery schedule.

This is made possible by the transmission’s torque converter that multiples engine torque during start-up and acceleration.

“The electric truck has proved itself in city distribution and the just-in-time delivery for BMW is working fluently,” said Frenzel.

“The Allison transmission makes it possible to specifically use the power of the electric motor in the best manner. And the e-truck can be maneuvered easily and is extremely easy to drive.”

A second BMW supplier – Elflein Spedition & Transport – begun operating a similar electric truck in November last year. It is expected to save 21 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.


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.

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.


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:

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:




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.