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.

Swedish out-of-hours delivery trial removes HGVs from rush-hour

A freight trial in the Swedish city of Stockholm has identified both business and environmental benefits from the use of out-of-hours delivery patterns.

The Off Peak City Distribution trial, led by Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, saw two trucks receive an exemption to the current night-time delivery ban in place from 10pm to 6am in Stockholm.

Researchers wanted to see if lifting the ban would drive operational efficiency for hauliers and businesses receiving their goods, as well as congestion-busting and air quality benefits from removing freight vehicles from rush-hour.

The trial

Volvo supplied a parallel hybrid (diesel-electric) FE model fitted with a geofencing device that enabled the truck to switch to quiet, clean electric operation within urban areas.

This was used for dedicated deliveries for supermarket Lidl, travelling 30km between its warehouse in Roserberg and three city centre stores in Stockholm.

A second HGV, a biogas-fuelled Scania R480 (pictured below), was used to transport consolidated goods for Swedish foodservice supplier Martin and Servera to a number of city centre hotels and restaurants.

Both were fitted with noise-reduction equipment, such as silent roll cages, and noise sensor technology.

Anna Pernestål Brenden, a researcher at KTH’s Integrated Transport Research Laboratory, said ordinarily the Lidl warehouse would deploy several fully-loaded trucks to make deliveries during peak morning rush hours between 6am and 8am, because it was too difficult for a single vehicle to make all the drops in such a short time window.

But in the study, a single truck delivered goods to three stores in central Stockholm between the prohibited hours of 10pm and 6am. It would return to the warehouse three times in the night to be reloaded, and then make its subsequent delivery.

Pernestål Brenden said. “That’s one truck doing the work of three, or in other words – morning commuters are spared having to share the road with three heavy duty trucks.”

The truck on the dedicated Lidl route was found to have a driving speed in off-peak around one-third faster than in the morning peak (31%).

Meanwhile, the Scania working to deliver to multiple city centre hotels and restaurants, was found to have a driving speed 59% higher than in the afternoon peak, as the routes could be planned more efficiently as they did not have to factor in congestion.

Enjoy the silence

On the noise pollution front, the trial wanted to examine whether deliveries were a nuisance to residents.
Drivers all had to follow special rules to ensure the quietest of night-time deliveries, such as no reversing alarms and no talking on mobile phones outside the vehicles.

“It turned out that the noise people complained about was caused mainly by unloading the truck, not driving,” Pernestål Brenden said.

KTH acoustics researchers created a sound recording system that placed microphones in the front and back of the truck.

The front microphones would record when the truck was getting unloaded, so that neighbourhood background noise could also be taken into account.

This allowed researchers to evaluate the mix of sound from both vehicle and environment and give a true picture of what difference the unloading of the vehicle actually made.

They found trucks unloading within city centre environments were not noticeable to residents, with only those in one quieter, outer suburb experiencing noise disruption.

Though it was a small scale study, KTH said there was a strong indication that scaling up off-peak deliveries could increase efficiency for businesses, reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and make a positive impact on traffic volume during peak hours.

Pernestål Brenden said: “By making small changes, we can improve transport efficiency, reduce congestion, and enable new business models for goods receivers.”


MAN and DB Schenker to use truck platooning for ‘real world’ distribution work next spring

Truck platooning will be used for distribution work in Germany as part of a trial from next spring.

In a partnership deal signed this week by truck-maker MAN and operator DB Schenker, the trial will see networked lorry convoys used on regular distribution work with HGV drivers on board, rather than dedicated testers.

An initial test phase early next year will use unladen two-truck platoons running on the A9 motorway between DB Schenker’s Munich and Nuremberg depots.

They will run without a load during this stage so driving conditions can be tested in ordinary traffic situations and the drivers trained in how to operate the vehicles and adapt to special driving techniques.

Tests will then progress throughout 2018 to move onto regular distribution work carrying real freight loads, with platoons running up to three times per day.

MAN and DB Schenker hope to answer a number of core questions relating to platooning throughout the programme, such as the best time to create a platoon and the most efficient way to form or disband a convoy according to traffic conditions.

Data transmission is also a key component under analysis, including finding the best way to monitor the platoon for operators, as well as the best way to communicate real-time traffic data to the lead driver.

In addition, the trial aims to understand the impact on and acceptance from HGV drivers of platooning.

A parallel study will involve evaluation of participating drivers to see how they cope with new technology, the best method of training, and whether additional activities could be permitted by drivers in the trailing trucks.

An autonomous future

“Networked and autonomous driving will revolutionise transport in future,” said  Ewald Kaiser, chief operating officer, freight at DB Schenker.

“Platooning provides us and our customers with a solution to the demand for completely transparent, as well as faster and more eco-friendly transport processes.

“We are confident that these tests will deliver information about the specific potential for increasing efficiency in real operating conditions over a prolonged period.”

DB Schenker is also using the trial to establish its own platooning roll-out strategy to fit in with its existing infrastructure.

For example, it will be exploring the best way to ensure its depots can facilitate the loading and unloading of a truck convoy quickly and efficiently.

MAN head of engineering central Gerhard Klein said the trial was a major milestone on the path towards autonomous driving.

The manufacturer has already conducted its ‘Konvoi’ research project between 2005 and 2009 testing platoons of up to four vehicles, as well as taking part in last year’s European Truck Platooning Challenge.

Klein said: “By working together with the logistics planners and the drivers, we are directly involving the users during the test and development phases. This is a huge step forwards which will eventually enable us to apply this technology in day-to-day operations.”


Toyota to put hydrogen fuel cell HGV into action at Californian port

Toyota has begun a feasibility study into the usage of fuel cell technology in HGVs.

Dubbed Project Portal, a zero-emission concept truck will hit the roads this summer in California.

The manufacturer said the hydrogen-fuelled semi-trailer will haul cargo between the busy ports of Los Angeles and nearby Long Beach – “quietly, quickly and without producing any tailpipe emissions”.

HGVs create a significant percentage of the annual emissions output at the port, and the trial is one of a number of measures in its Clean Air Action Plan to reduce harmful pollutants.

The concept truck has the power and torque capacity to transport cargo between the two ports while emitting nothing but water vapour.

“Toyota believes hydrogen fuel cell technology has tremendous potential to become the powertrain of the future,” said Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota Motor North America. “With Project Portal, we are proud to help explore the societal benefits of a zero-emission heavy-duty truck platform.”

The truck generates more than 670hp and 1,796Nm of torque from two Mirai fuel cell stacks and a 12kWh battery, which Toyota said is a relatively small battery to support heavy-duty operations.

Its gross combined weight capacity is more than 36.2 tonnes (80,000lb) and its estimated driving range is 320km (200 miles) per fill, under normal operation.

“By bringing this heavy-duty, zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell proof-of-concept truck to the port, Toyota has planted a flag that we hope many others will follow,” said Mary Nichols, chair at the California Air Resources Board.

She added: “We will be following the progress of this feasibility study with interest, as we look to develop the best mix of regulations and incentives to rapidly expand the market for the cleanest, most efficient big trucks to meet the need for dramatic change in the freight sector.”

Toyota said Project Portal is just one part of its commitment to fuel cell technology and the potential of a ‘hydrogen society’.

It follows the company’s work to expand California’s hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, including a recently announced partnership with Shell to increase the number of hydrogen refuelling stations in the state.

Ulemco and H2B2 collaborate to make hydrogen more cost viable as an alternative to diesel HGVs

Ulemco is to collaborate with Spanish hydrogen producer H2B2 to accelerate the commercialisation of hydrogen-fuelled vehicles, both in Spain and the UK.

The companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that sees them partnering to make hydrogen as a fuel more economically viable through scaled production.

Liverpool-based Ulemco will continue to develop and commercialise the technology for converting commercial fleets to run on dual fuel (hydrogen/diesel), and is working with several fleet operators to demonstrate the practicality of hydrogen as a low-carbon fuel.

This work will be complemented by H2B2, which is focused on the economic green production of hydrogen and the integration of large-scale (1MW plus) hydrogen electrolysers in industrial applications, mobility and energy storage solutions.

Ulemco’s technology, deployed in HGV and heavy-duty engines, will provide H2B2 and end customers with a market for high volumes of hydrogen. This larger scale of hydrogen production is intended to make the fuel a more cost-attractive option for fleet operators.

Both Spain and the UK are looking to develop the business case for hydrogen as a cleaner alternative to diesel to help tackle poor air quality in major cities.

The UK this week proposed tougher city regulations for diesel vehicles across the country, with London consulting on the acceleration of plans for an Ultra Low Emission Zone by 2019, while Spain has announced its intention to ban diesel and older vehicles from Madrid and Barcelona.

“We are seeing a renewed wave of optimism and investment in the Spanish market,” said Ulemco CEO Amanda Lyne. “Now and post-Brexit, we want to be able to address the Spanish market with an affordable alternative to diesel fuel as demand for greener alternatives grows.”

Javier Brey, CEO of H2B2, added: ““Ulemco is making great progress in deploying hydrogen dual-fuel vehicles in the UK. We see enormous opportunity for the technology in this market, as well as to achieve even greater penetration in the Spanish speaking markets.”

Ulemco is also leading a collaborative project to demonstrate the emissions reductions and practical benefits to operators of larger fleet vehicles running on hydrogen dual-fuel as part of the DfT’s £20m Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial.

Tevva Motors heads to Madrid on trade mission to highlight zero-emission truck technology

Tevva Motors has been chosen by London mayor Sadiq Khan to take part in a three-day trade mission to Madrid.

Essex-based Tevva will be looking to showcase its range-extended series hybrid electric 7.5-tonner to business leaders in the Spanish capital, which plans to ban diesel vehicles by 2025.

The event forms part of the mayor’s International Business Programme (MIBP) and seeks to showcase 24 tech-focused London businesses to the Spanish capital in a bid to forge stronger trading links.

It will feature round table debates with key members of the Madrid business community, focusing on smart city concepts such as the internet of things, urban mobility and infrastructure requirements.

Tevva CEO Asher Bennett said: “City authorities in London and Madrid are placing a high priority on tackling city air quality and the negative impact of NOx and particulate pollution on health.

“The announcement of London’s ‘T’ Charge for older diesel vehicles and Madrid’s announcement of an outright diesel ban from 2025 show the strength of their commitment. Tevva is at the forefront of truck technologies that can make zero-emission freight movement not just a practical reality, but the norm.”

Deputy London mayor for business Rajesh Agrawal, who is also in Madrid with Tevva, said: “The mayor and I look forward to working with Tevva Motors, to build new relationships, attract investment and show the entire continent that London is open and the best city in the world to do business with.”

Following a series of operator trials in UK cities, including with parcel firm UPS, Tevva has confirmed its first commercial orders are scheduled for delivery in quarter four this year.

Amsterdam uses operational incentives to encourage electric freight vehicle use in city

The city of Amsterdam is encouraging uptake of electric freight vehicles (EFVs) through operational perks in busy urban areas.

A partner in the Frevue scheme (Freight Electric Vehicles in Urban Europe), Amsterdam has been trialling incentives to boost EFV usage in the city including the use of zero-emission deliveries in its own supply chain.

It has found some of the most effective actions have been operational incentives for freight companies using electric vans and trucks.

Since March 2015, 20 vehicles from seven logistics companies have been granted traffic regulation exemptions based on their own delivery patterns and geographic requirements.

These enable the operators to park in restricted zones, unload directly to the pavement, deliver during time-restricted periods and even enter certain pedestrian areas.

Operators of the EFVs involved in the trial have reported increased driver productivity as a result of the exemptions, including:

  • Shorter walking distance – this saved on average between 15 and 45 minutes per driver, per day.
  • More drops – operators were able to make an extra 4-5 drops per hour compared with diesel vehicles with no exemptions.
  • Loading – average unloading savings were around 4-5 minutes per stop, saving up to 30 minutes per day.
  • Driver stress – as drivers normally have to pay their own fines if unable to find parking, less anxiety from guaranteed parking spots increased productivity, as well as reducing conflict with other road users when seeking a place to stop.

The city’s report said it was pleased with the outcome of the pilot and will work on broadening the scheme to the whole of the city.

It will also be considering feedback from operators involved in the trial as to how to further incentivise the use of EFVs.

These include a call to widen the current delivery time windows in Amsterdam, which are  strict and often only allow a one-hour period for deliveries to be made; use of tram lanes for EFVs to bypass congestion; stricter parking enforcement on other road users parking in loading bays; and a wider scope for traffic exemptions beyond the city centre.

Frevue has produced a free-to-download factsheet with full details of the incentives trialled in Amsterdam.

The Frevue project works with a number of European cities and logistics operators to provide eveidence on the viability of using electric freight vehicles for emission-free urban deliveries.



Geodis reduces freight journeys and emissions in Paris through Distripolis scheme

An urban delivery initiative deployed across Paris by French operator Geodis has reduced its freight journeys by 20% and CO2 by more than 1,000 tonnes a year.

Geodis sales director Kevin Huskie (pictured) told delegates at the Freight in the City Spring Summit that the Distripolis programme is designed to lessen the effect of freight deliveries on an urban environment.

It was developed in 2011 as a way for Geodis to lead by example in promoting more sustainable city deliveries.

As France’s largest logistics operator, with a 40% market share, Huskie said the company believed it had a responsibility to drive change and encourage more sustainable urban deliveries.

Before it implemented Distripolis, Geodis used multiple distribution centres on the outskirts of Paris for its key divisions, such as express parcels, groupage and reverse logistics operations. Each one would send multiple vehicles into the city centre throughout the day.

But with Distripolis, Geodis uses one main consolidation centre on the outskirts of Paris, with goods travelling during the night into smaller city centre ‘blue bases’ of less than 250m².

Own or subcontracted ultra-low-emission vehicles or power-assisted tricycles are used to make the final mile delivery from these inner-city bases.

The advantages to the urban community have been improved traffic flow, due to fewer trucks on the roads; reduced air and noise pollution; a more attractive city centre that still meets local businesses’ needs; and compliance with all local regulations, such as time-restricted deliveries.

Huskie said the initiative had “massively reduced road miles and made a big difference in Paris”.

“The target was to remove 1,700 tonnes of CO2 emissions. In year one, we achieved a 365-tonne reduction of CO2 and are now achieving more than 1,000 tonnes.”

Geodis wants to roll out Distripolis in Lille, Strasbourg and Marseille, and aims to reach every city in France.

However, because the UK marketplace is much more fragmented, Huskie believes collaboration is the key to achieving a similar effect here.

Earlier this year, Geodis announced an extension to its UK night-time deliveries initiative.

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.