The winner of the Editor’s Choice Award is the Royal Mail for its pioneering use of Arrival’s large dual-mode electric/petrol vans coupled with its decision to take 100 Peugeot Partner electric models onto its fleet.
The postal service giant is trialling nine hybrid-electric commercial vehicles on assignments to carry post between mail distribution centres in London and the South East. The trial is based at the Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant centre in London and encompasses three 6.0t, three 3.5t and three 7.5t vehicles.
The Royal Mail is the first organisation to take on the vehicles, which are built by British start-up firm Arrival (formerly known as Charge) in Banbury, Oxfordshire.
Arrival claims it can assemble the vehicles in four hours, with the 3.5t van constructed from ultra-lightweight materials that it says help reduce operational costs by up to 50% when combined with Arrival’s custom-built hardware, including power electronics and motors.
While the 3.5t van can travel for up to 100 miles emission-free, for longer journeys a petrol dual mode can be engaged to top up the battery and extend the range to 500 miles.
Arrival explains the vehicles receive over-the-air updates similar to those of a smartphone, and claims the models are built to conform with future driverless vehicle regulations, for which they can be ready “at the push of a button”.
“The Royal Mail is delighted to be collaborating with Arrival and pioneering the adoption of large electric commercial vehicles,” says Paul Gatti, managing director of Royal Mail Fleet.
“We are pleased to be the first fleet operator to take delivery of and trial these new, larger-payload vehicles, which will complement the 100 electric vans we recently ordered. 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.”
Denis Sverdlov, CEO of Arrival, adds: “Cities like London will benefit hugely from a switch to electric, in terms of both pollution and noise.”
He claims Arrival’s EVs will be priced in line with diesel equivalents.
The Royal Mail runs a fleet of about 49,000 delivery vehicles, so if the trial of the Arrival vans is a success, the potential for expansion is enormous.
Gatti adds: “Our research has shown that electric vans are an excellent operational fit with our business.”
The Royal Mail has also bolstered its green credentials by putting into service the 100 Partner L2 Electric vans it ordered from long-term partner Peugeot, having installed charging points at its delivery depots. Peugeot launched the Partner L2 Electric in February and this is the first major fleet order for the van. It has an official range of 106 miles, offers a 3.7m3 load capacity and a payload of 552kg.
Worthy of recognition this year is the Transport Research Laboratory following its successful
trial of a driverless delivery van as part of its Government-funded Gateway Project.
The trial used a van called the CargoPod to transport shopping around a residential area of Woolwich Arsenal, south-east London, and during a two-week period the van made more than 100 autonomous deliveries.
The CargoPod van was developed by autonomous technology company Oxbotica, and has a
payload of 128kg with a load volume of 2.0m3.
Oxbotica boss Graeme Smith expects to see mass market adoption of driverless delivery vans from 2021.
The trial was run in association with Ocado Technology, a division of the online shopping giant Ocado.