The following article was published on page 13 of Motor Transport magazine on 13 August. It can be read in e-magazine format on Issuu.com.
A monthly look at work to cut CV emissions. This month, Carl Lomas, chair of the LoCITY Van Working Group, discusses the importance of low-emission final-mile deliveries.
The LoCITY Van Working Group is very interactive. Conversations in support of clean air regularly stray beyond vans into walker, trolley, cycle and cargo bike solutions for final-mile delivery. While the group is not electric-centric, alternative fuel discussions are usually around zero-emission vehicles. It’s clear that drivers, riders and walkers making deliveries in the inner city need to be sure the air is healthy and clean.
The group has repeatedly said the key challenge for a greater uptake of electric vehicles is infrastructure and charging solutions. This splits into two streams: depot charging for fleets of vans, and owner-drivers who take vans home. Depot charging must ensure adequate grid power, while a wider issue is how to manage vehicles that go home to charge. The owner-driver, often parking on the street, has limited access to charging and this is inhibiting a large proportion of the commercial fleet.
A majority of the group report low daily mileage for vans working in central London. They might have sporadic trip patters and adjust their routes for daily congestion, but their work remains concentrated in high-density areas where parking puts pressure on loading and charging times.
Average speeds often fall below 10mph for the working day, so zero-emission vehicles are already a viable solution for many operators. Availability of alternative fuel vans is always a hot topic in the discussion, especially in the shadow of the Ultra Low Emission Zone, starting in April 2019, and there is growing concern over vehicle availability.
Volume is more likely than weight to be the constraint of express parcels carried in any given vehicle, so replenishing cycle or cargo bike couriers is a solution. Management of vehicles via route optimisation and consolidation is a major emerging part in lowering emissions. Fewer miles for more deliveries mean cleaner air. However, clean air is not all about technology. Julian Allen from Westminster University recently talked to LoCITY about management solutions. Disruption and market change is at the heart of reducing carbon and delivering clean air. Any solution must think ahead so vehicle kilometres, road space and time allocation, kerb space and technology interventions all save time, money and reduce environmental impact.
At the LoCITY Van Working Group, technology providers, alternative fuel suppliers and operators can network. We are vigorous in creating strong discussions across the group for clean air solutions. Van operators in the group are rich in express delivery – this part of the commercial landscape is exploding, especially in the e-retail final-mile client chain, where numbers are increasing fast.
LoCITY welcomes more contributors to the conversation at our quarterly LoCITY meetings. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.