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Electrifying Logistics Vehicles Can Improve Congestion and Air Quality in Urban Areas: Part 2

Jan 14, 2020

EV Fleet

In a previous blog, I discussed the opportunities and limitations of night time, off-peak deliveries, and how electric logistics vehicles can help unlock benefits like reduced congestion and improved local air quality. Electric logistics vehicles have another opportunity to improve air quality in urban areas, which may be accomplished without fully electric long-range vehicles.

Geofenced Plug-In Hybrid EVs Can Lead the Way

Though it seems fully electric logistics vehicles are only a few years away—as the details of Amazon’s recent order of 100,000 electric vans suggests—we need not wait for mass market availability and adoption of full EVs. A more affordable and available option is a plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV). PHEVs are vehicles with both a battery pack, electric motor, and internal combustion engines.

PHEVs, in combination with geofencing technologies, can enforce all-electric drive within urban areas without limiting logistics companies to more expensive battery EVs that may have limited range or lack charging solutions. A number of companies and pilot programs have demonstrated successful geofenced capabilities that can enable PHEVs to specifically use all-electric mode within city limits. United Parcel Service (UPS) is working with Tevva Motors to introduce 15 PHEV delivery trucks with geofenced clean air zones in the UK. Ford has announced similar available features for its PHEV Transit and Tourneo models for the European market.

Outside of logistics applications, geofenced PHEVs are also gaining traction. BMW’s European PHEVs will have urban centers geofenced as a standard feature beginning in 2020. Geofencing all-electric operation is also being piloted in transit applications. San Francisco, California’s recent launch of its Green Zone program geofences 68 hybrid-electric transit buses, working closely with New Flyer Industries and BAE Systems. The program is intended to act as an intermediary step as the fleet looks to fully electrify by 2035.

Logistics PHEVs Are a Smart Option for Cities

There is a growing trend among some European cities that intend to ban internal combustion engine vehicles after a certain date, typically around 2040. Many other cities have increased focus toward becoming a low or zero emissions zone. Logistics PHEVs can help cities meet their low emission zone and air quality goals. They can also potentially improve daytime traffic congestion by unlocking more off-peak delivery windows in the early 2020s. Logistics PHEVs are a smart stop-gap measure until battery EV costs decrease and ranges increase.