UPS sees Workhorse supply electric delivery trucks

US giant says purchase cost is equivalent to conventionally powered vehicle

UPS sees Workhorse supply electric delivery trucks
Steve Burns says Workhorse is working to make the UPS transition to EVs easy


UPS has seen its link with Workhorse Group bear electric propulsion fruit with delivery vehicles that it says cost the same to buy as diesel vehicles.

The US global parcel delivery firm claims the development as a world first in the transport zero-emissions space.

"Electric vehicle technology is rapidly improving with battery, charging and smart grid advances that allow us to specify our delivery vehicles to eliminate emissions, noise and dependence on diesel and gasoline," UPS global fleet maintenance and engineering president Carlton Rose says.

"With our scale and real-world duty cycles, these new electric trucks will be a quantum leap forward for the purpose-built UPS delivery fleet.

"The all electric trucks will deliver by day and re-charge overnight.

"We are uniquely positioned to work with our partners, communities and customers to transform freight transportation." 

US electric van maker Workhorse says the first 50 vehicles with a driving range of 100 miles (160 km) will be delivered this year and that the range is enough to allow UPS to replace around 35,000 diesel or petrol delivery trucks.

Until recently, however, UPS would have faced substantial costs for the charging stations and related infrastructure to top up the batteries at the end of the day.

"This innovation is the result of Workhorse working closely with UPS over the last four years refining our electric vehicles with hard fought lessons from millions of road miles and thousands of packages delivered," Workhorse CEO Steve Burns says.

"Our goal is to make it easy for UPS and others to go electric by removing prior roadblocks to large scale acceptance such as cost." 

UPS will test the vehicles primarily on urban routes across the country, including Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles.

Workhorse claims these vehicles provide nearly 400 per cent fuel efficiency improvement as well as optimum energy efficiency, vehicle performance and a better driver experience.

The class 5, zero emission delivery trucks will rely on a cab forward design, which is said to optimise the driver compartment and cargo area, increasing efficiency and reducing vehicle weight.

The new trucks will join the company’s Rolling Lab, a growing fleet of more than 9,000 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.   

Following real-world test deployments, UPS and Workhorse say they will fine-tune the design in time to deploy a larger fleet next year and beyond.

"Since most of the maintenance costs of a vehicle are associated with the engine and related components, UPS expects the operating cost of the new plug-in electric vehicle to be less than a similarly equipped diesel or gasoline vehicle," the delivery company says.

"UPS’s goal is to make the new electric vehicles a standard selection, where appropriate, in its fleet of the future. UPS has approximately 35,000 diesel or gasoline trucks in its fleet that are comparable in size and are used in routes with duty cycles, or daily miles travelled similar to the new electric vehicles."

UPS has previously collaborated with Workhorse on electric/hybrid trucks armed with drone parcel placement systems.

It says it is also making progress on its battery charging challenge, focused on London and with UK government financial help.

It last year rolled out ‘smart charging’ software at a central London facility that allowed the company to nearly triple its local electric fleet to 170 delivery vans.

"The smart charging technology determines when and how fast to charge vehicles," Workhorse says.

"If vehicles are not scheduled for a full route the next day, the system can opt not to fully charge them and charge other vehicles more.  

"Without the software, UPS would have had to install enough infrastructure to charge all the vehicles at the same time — the equivalent of powering an office building or hospital — at a cost of millions of dollars for electric grid hardware.

"The project at UPS’s London facility was partly funded by Innovate UK, the British government innovation agency."

British firm UK Power Networks oversees the charging strategy and said last July that by charging the fleet at night, UPS is able to "take advantage of troughs in demand for energy and avoid overloading the network during times of peak demand.

"UK Power Networks is developing software that help to assess how many electric vehicles can safely charge at any one time by evaluating thousands of pieces of information about how much and when people use electricity."

UPS has more than 300 electric vehicles deployed in Europe and the US, and nearly 700 hybrid electric vehicles.

The company recently ordered 125 new fully-electric Tesla Semi prime movers to be built next year, saying it remains the largest pre-order to date.

Last September, UPS announced it would become the first commercial customer in the US to start using medium-duty Fuso eCanter electric trucks, taking on three vehicles.


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