Delivery giant DPD has integrated the 700th electric vehicle (EV) into its UK fleet this week, meaning that more than 10% of its UK van fleet is now pure-electric.
The company, which set an ambition to electrify 10% of its UK fleet by the end of 2020 back in 2018, claims that it now operates the largest EV fleet in the UK’s delivery sector.
Since the beginning of January, it has integrated more than 560 pure electric and hybrid vehicles into its fleet, including 300 Nissan e-NV200s – vans which boast 187 miles of range and a 40KWH battery.
Other EVs ordered by DPD are the MAN eTGE van, which is slightly larger, the Vauxhall Vivaro-e and the LEVC VN5, the latter of which is an adapted taxi-van being trialled by companies including DPD and Royal Mail ahead of a market launch in the fourth quarter of 2020. The LEVC VN5 weighs 2.9 tonnes and is fitted with range-extending technology.
DPD said in a statement that it had seen an uptick in deliveries since lockdown began in March, alongside a growing consumer and investor demand for electric vehicles as a result of reduced air pollution from lockdown. As a result, it has delivered five million parcels using zero-emission vehicles and predicts that it is on track to deliver a further five million by the end of 2020.
DPD had been aiming to integrate 500 EVs into its fleet during the entirety of 2020, meaning it will now begin work to develop a more ambitious target for the future. It has signed an agreement with Oxford-based e-cargo bike manufacturer EAV to develop a new vehicle over the coming 24 months and will announce a time-bound, numerical target for EV update in the near future.
“Despite everything that is going on, we’ve been really focused on getting EVs on the road and delivering for us this year,” DPD’s chief executive Dwain McDonald said.
“Yes, you need to be trialling new technology and looking at future concepts, but you have to start making a difference now, and that’s what we are doing.”
The road ahead
McDonald added, however, that there are “still huge frustrations” facing DPD and other businesses seeking to electrify their fleets.
Specifically, he would like carmakers to be supported by the UK Government to deploy a wider range of EVs, at lower prices, more rapidly. DPD is calling on the Departments for Transport and BEIS to bolster their EV industry support as part of the UK Government’s £160bn Covid-19 recovery package.
McDonald’s sentiments seem to be common across the UK corporate space. In its most recent survey of EV100 members, The Climate Group documented persistent concerns about a lack of vehicle supply, cited by 79% of members as their top concern.
Its survey also revealed how concerns surrounding the upfront cost of vehicles, vehicle range and the availability of charging infrastructure.
The UK Government is yet to announce any dedicated funding for the EV infrastructure or manufacturing, or for EV-related financial incentives, as part of its Covid-19 package. The 2020 Budget, delivered in March, saw the Treasury confirm £500m investment in EV charging networks and an extension of the Plug-in grant and other incentives. It was criticised, however, for freezing fuel duty and earmarking £27bn for road building through to 2025.