UPS deploys ‘geofenced’ electric delivery vehicles


The UK division of delivery behemoth UPS has introduced a new line of ‘geofenced’ range-extended electric vehicles (REEVs) to its fleets serving Birmingham and Southampton to overcome the range limitations of pure EVs within the logistics industry. 

Developed to operate in the UK’s ever-increasing number of urban Clean Air Zones (CAZs), the new REEVs operate using groundbreaking hybrid electric vehicle technology, which increases route range while maintaining the cargo capacity of traditional diesel vehicles of the same weight class. The REEVs use GPS-based geofencing technology to automatically switch to pure electric mode when reaching a predetermined boundary, such as prior to entering an urban environment or CAZ. This same technology allows the vehicle to switch to the on-board Range Extender that uses a significantly smaller and efficient diesel engine to recharge the battery, such as on the motorway connecting neighboring towns and cities or to make a journey back to the UPS depot. 

The 15 new UPS vehicles were developed in conjunction with Essex-based EV specialists Tevva Motors Ltd and part-funded by the UK’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and Innovate UK. They form part of UPS’ ‘rolling laboratory’ strategy to develop a variety of alternative fuel vehicles, using continuous evaluation and experimentation to ensure that the company reduces its carbon footprint with solutions best suited to each specific environment. Tevva’s REEVs are currently being used as part of the Project ACCRA (Autonomous and Connected vehicles for CleanerR Air) trials in the Leeds CAZ, where data from air-quality monitoring sensors is used to automatically activate zero emission running. 

The new vehicles solve a problem faced by many companies operating in cities, where warehouses and depots are often based further from the city center. The current generation of 7.5 tonne electric delivery vehicles have an average range of 62 miles (100km), which is often not far enough to reach urban drop off points. Instead, the REEVs can travel an average combined power range of 248 miles (400km), whilst still ensuring they make zero emissions within the urban areas on their routes. The REEVs also maintain the operational efficiency of high-volume package delivery vehicles, which avoids the need for a greater number of smaller capacity EVs carrying the same number of packages, in turn reducing congestion on the roads. 

“This is a big breakthrough for our continued use of electric vehicles in the UK,” said Luke Wake, director of automotive engineering and advanced technology at UPS. “The range jump from 100km to 400km is the result of our latest collaboration with Tevva. We can serve our customers with lower emission, alternatively-fueled vehicles in places beyond the reach of existing pure electric vehicles at this weight class.” 

Richard Lidstone-Scott, Tevva’s commercial director, said, “Commercial vehicles account for 27% of transport related CO2 and 5% of total greenhouse gas emissions on Europe’s roads. EU legislation says that this needs to be cut by 15% by 2025 and 30% by 2030, and Net Zero in the UK by 2050. We already have viable technology, proven in real-world trials, which can help companies like UPS reduce emissions to almost zero without compromising their business-critical ability to carry full payloads.” 

To watch a video about the project, click HERE   

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.