- UPS ordered 950 electric delivery trucks from Workhorse Group last month, marking one of the largest electric van orders in the United States, reports Trucks.com.
- The order was placed on top of an existing request for 50 custom-built electric vehicles made by UPS in February. The larger purchase remains contingent on the proven success of the first 50 vehicles.
- The deal is part of a UPS strategy to operate a quarter of its vehicles with alternative fuel by 2020. Currently, the company is operating 300 electric and 700 hybrid electric vehicles in the U.S. and Europe, according to a press release.
UPS is spreading its net wide to make electric vehicle delivery sustainable worldwide. The third-party logistics provider has also pre-ordered 125 electric trucks from Tesla and Daimler AG's battery-powered light-duty trucks as part of its alternative fuel strategy. The Workhorse order adds to its list of electric vehicle suppliers building UPS' "fleet of the future."
"The new trucks will join the company’s Rolling Lab, a growing fleet of more than 9,000 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles," UPS said in a February statement. "UPS’s goal is to make the new electric vehicles a standard selection, where appropriate, in its fleet of the future."
Electric vehicles carry great cost-savings potential for third-party logistics providers. Workhorse estimates its trucks will save UPS more than $150,000 per vehicle over a 20-year lifespan. The savings are based on an alleged 400% improvement in fuel efficiency and 60% reduction in maintenance expenses.
However, the technology faces an uphill path to adoption, as its benefits are still being tested in live situations.
The battery packs in the vehicles only allow the vans to travel 100 miles before they need to be recharged. While the distance is ideal within cities like Atlanta, Los Angeles and Dallas, these sites must have the infrastructure available to maintain and frequently recharge the vehicles. It's about more than just charging stations: Cities, states and nations must be able to maintain these vehicles without overwhelming existing power grids.
UPS made a breakthrough on this in March, however, as it led a consortium to deploy a "radical new charging technology" in London. The Smart Electric Urban Logistics project created smart power grid that could distribute electricity in a facility throughout a facility to intelligently charge the various areas of its logistics business.
With the new technology, UPS said it hoped to have a fleet of 170 trucks in central London powered by electricity.
"We are using new technology to work around some big obstacles to electric vehicle deployment, heralding a new generation of sustainable urban delivery services both here in London and in other major cities around the world," Peter Harris, director of sustainability at UPS Europe, said in a statement on the London initiative.