‘It’s the beginning of the end’ for internal combustion engines, says UPS as it updates its fleet to electric

By Fred Lambert Mar. 30th 2018 

UPS, which operates one of the largest fleets of vehicles in the world, has several electrification efforts and today, it got quite excited about the prospect of going all-electric as it deployed a new smart-grid technology to support its growing EV fleet in London.

So much so that it called it “breakthrough” that “signals the beginning of the end of a reliance upon traditional combustion engine powered vehicles.”

The delivery company currently operates 170 trucks out of its central London site and 65 of them are electric – pictured above.  They wanted to electrify the entire fleet, but they didn’t like the cost of charging high numbers of vehicles at the same time.

In order to lower those costs, they developed a ‘Smart Electric Urban Logistics (SEUL)’ project with UK Power Networks and Cross River Partnership, with funding secured from the UK’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

It consists of  “a smart-grid which uses a central server which is connected to each EV charge post as well as the grid power supply and the on-site energy storage.”  The system is able to stabilize the power demand among the charging stations in order to charge all vehicles overnight without excessive peak demand or a need to upgrade to the external power grid.

Peter Harris, director of sustainability at UPS Europe, commented on the new initiative:

“UPS thinks this is a world first, right in the heart of a mega-city. 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. Electric vehicles are an integral component within UPS’s alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet. Our collaboration with UK Power Networks and Cross River Partnership marks a major turning point in the cost effective deployment of electric vehicles which in turn will play a key role in ensuring the global trend toward urbanization is sustainable. We are applying new technology to make the charging process smarter and our delivery service cleaner.”

The company says that the new smart grid system and energy storage capacity added to its central London site will allow them to switch the entire fleet of 170 delivery trucks to electric.

The delivery giant is also working on several other electrification efforts. They are converting ‘up to 1,500 delivery trucks’ to battery-electric in New York, they’ve already bought some of Daimler’s new electric trucks, and they’ve ordered 125 Tesla Semi trucks.

Last month, they also placed an order for a fleet of 50 all-electric delivery trucks made by Workhorse. 


Workhorse puts its first all-electric van on the road, aims for 2,000 by the end of the year

Loveland, Ohio-based truck maker Workhorse, probably better known within the EV community for its plug-in electric W-15 pickup truck, is starting to put its new electric van, N-Gen, on the road this week.

An undisclosed delivery company is operating the electric van in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Steve Burns, Workhorse’s CEO, says that they are not disclosing the name of the delivery company “because they want to really test the vans before going public, but these are real vans, not concepts, and they will be delivering hundreds of packages a day.”

Duane Hughes, Workhorse President and COO, added:

Rolling out this history making fleet of N-GEN vans in one of the most innovative cities in America is something myself and the entire team are extremely proud of. This deployment is the first step towards transitioning the largest growing segment in the truck business into a zero-emission stronghold.

During an event at San Francisco City Hall, they launched the pilot program:

Workhorse says that the new N-Gen electric van has a range of 100 miles (160 km) on a single charge, which should be enough for most delivery routes, and they can add a 75-mile (120 km) gas range extender.

Right now, it’s geared toward urban deliveries, but they are also planning additional configurations for telecom service/municipal use and bigger versions with 700-cubic-foot and 1,000-cubic-foot models. Those are expected to enter production in late 2018.

By the end of the year, Workhorse says that it plans to put 2,000 all-electric vans on the road.

In the US, there hasn’t been an electric van market. Nissan owned the market in Europe with its e-NV200 all-electric van, but now VW and Daimler are coming up with competitors in the segment.

Now Workhorse is starting to build a market for electric vans in the US with the N-Gen.