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Keep on (electric) truckin'


Keep on (electric) truckin'

Ian Kerr

Today Amazon has announced it will buy 100,000 electric delivery vans from vehicle manufacturer Rivian, with the first electric delivery vans on the road by 2021. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos estimates the entire 100,000 vehicles will be deployed by 2024. (Amazon is an investor in Rivian.)

It’s a big order, that’s for sure. But we won’t see them on the road for a while. And it’s not like there aren’t any electric vehicle manufacturers out there already producing electric delivery vehicles.

Anyway, when it comes to Amazon and delivery vehicles, I tend to take an “I’ll believe it when I see it” approach. Delivery drones, anyone?

Well, I shouldn’t be such a negative nellie on this one. Amazon is starting to take its environmental responsibilities seriously, so let’s see where this leads. More consolidated last mile delivery to PUDOs, perhaps? Less shipments carried by air? Watch this space…

Electric trucks

Australia Post will soon trial FUSO's eCanter in the Sydney CBD. Most of Australia Post’s 2200 electric vehicles are light vans or last mile delivery vehicles. Australia Post has previously trialled hybrid trucks.


Across the world, the FUSO eCanter fleet has driven one million kilometres over the past two years, with vehicles operating around 150 vehicles in cities around the world.

The FUSO eCanter usually covers a distance of 30 to 80 kilometres per day, and has a range of 100 kilometres.

Tooting their own environmentally-friendly klaxon

France’s Groupe La Poste has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% since 2013, in part by getting serious about electric vehicles. It has 16,260 electric vehicles in circulation (24% of the fleet, excluding bicycles and trolleys) and 22,536 power-assisted bicycles.

La Poste has also trained its drivers in “eco-driving”.

Sure, it does carbon offsetting as well but, as readers of this blog know, I’m not a big fan of offsetting. Far better to stop the emissions from happening than paying money to make everyone feel better.

Which leads us to a key point in this discussion…

How neutral is carbon neutral?

Professor Tim Schwanen, director of the Transport Studies Unit at the University of Oxford, wrote recently about the challenges facing the electric vehicle sector.

He pointed out that even 100% electric vehicles are not a zero-carbon solution.

“Sourcing the minerals used for batteries, dismantling batteries which have deteriorated, and building and delivering vehicles to customers worldwide all involve substantial CO2 emissions. It is impossible to break all of the links,” he wrote.

So is it all a waste of time? Will transport (seen as the great evil in the emissions debate) and our insatiable demand for e-commerce deliveries melt the ice caps, no matter what we do?

Well, a reduction in emissions is better than offsetting, which is better than doing nothing at all. Postal operators and delivery companies have to do something.

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