The Newtons, manufactured by SEV in Tyne and Wear, are the first pure electric vehicles in their class to compete in performance terms with diesel equivalents, while at the same time delivering a 100 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions and exhaust air pollutants at the point of use.

Costing approximately 7p/mile in electricity to run the Newton also represents a significant saving in fuel costs. It has a top speed of 50mph and a 70-mile range from a single battery charge. It is designed to replace diesel trucks that operate exclusively in urban areas.

Powered by four large sodium nickel chloride 278v batteries located underneath the vehicle, each Newton can be fully charged from flat in approximately eight hours, using a standard three-phase industrial electricity supply.

The Newton also boasts additional environmental features such as fully recyclable, ultra light body panels manufactured by Omnia. This reduces the body weight and results in a payload capacity to 2,000kg for the TNT vehicles.

Tom Bell, managing director of TNT Express Services UK & Ireland, said: “This is a huge step forward for our fleet in both environmental as well as economical terms.

“On average it costs £40-a-week to power a zero emission vehicle as opposed to around £200 spent on diesel. The electric vehicles are also exempt from the London congestion charge — approximately £1,750 a year — and do not incur road tax in the UK. It's a clear win-win situation and one that we hope others will follow.”

TNT is also piloting other SEV battery-powered trucks and vans in the Netherlands with a view to rolling them out across its wider European operations.

The first 50 Newton trucks to be delivered will initially operate from locations in London, Basildon, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Durham, Edinburgh, Enfield, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Luton, Northampton, Oxford, Paisley, Preston and Wolverhampton.