Thanks to the UK Government's commitment to improving infrastructure for electric vehicles and their pledge to ban the sale of new petrol diesel cars and vans by 2040, the spotlight on the issue has never been hotter than in 2018. While the advent of new and better models of electric vehicles (EVs) is predicted to reshape the automotive industry, the advancements (and their effects) could be even more dramatic for commercial operators involved in delivery and courier work.
Options for Electric Vehicles
E-Bikes: By its nature, courier work calls for a diverse range of vehicles and in many places in the EU, e-bikes are already a familiar sight. They aren't so common in the UK because of the dangerously rising levels of pollution, the cost of traditional bikes and the on-going issue of congestion in the Capital, but the shift is gradually coming. Delivery giant UPS has begun trials of an electric bike trailer in London, and the support of manufacturers like BMW (the company has been involved in the design and innovation of e-bikes for many years) is starting to have an effect on the general perception of e-bikes and their benefits in terms of both the environment and the economy.
E-Trucks: With the increased interest in EVs for delivery and courier work, the large commercial vehicle manufacturers have to throw their hats in the ring and develop designs. Due to the sharp rise in online commerce and new, more stringent emission restrictions in place in the UK, EVs are becoming a growth sector – and one that offers huge potential for the future of the automotive manufacturing industry.
One of the most anticipated EV models is Maxus EV80, a fully electric and zero emission van. It has a range of up to 200km and a very short charging time. Branded as the LDV EV80 in the UK, the van is set for a 2019 launch across Europe, and Maxus has already cemented numerous partnerships with high-profile commercial organisations and fleet operators for the roll out. The Maxus van sets a new benchmark in the design of EVs for courier work in terms of capacity and versatility, and is available in both chassis cab and panel van models.
Improvements in Infrastructure
Along with the limited range of vehicles, the lacking availability of charging stations has been a major obstacle in the increase of EVs in the UK. In 2018, the UK Government announced an investment of £400 million to improving the charging infrastructure nationwide. In addition, they've pledged a further £100 million to the Plug-in Car Grant, which subsidises the purchase of electric vehicles.
Shell announced in 2017 that it would begin installing charging stations in several of its sites across the UK, and BP is planning to do the same. The stations would enable a user to charge their batteries up to approximately 80% in as little as 30 minutes.
There are also developments happening behind the scenes that will see the facilitation of an "open roaming network" for EV users, meaning that they'll be able to utilise the services of a range of operators and receive a single bill from their provider.
A Future-Proof Investment
For commercial operators in the delivery industry, whether or not to invest in EVs is becoming less of a question and more of a case of when and how to make the switch. As we edge closer to the 2040 deadline on the UK ban on petrol and diesel vans, more visible investment and generous incentives paint an undoubtedly electric future.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier work in the express freight exchange industry. Over 5,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.