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The role for electric vans in last mile delivery

Managing Editor of Fleet Equipment Magazine

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Here at Fleet Equipment, we’ve been covering electrification for a long time, and every time the subject comes up, without fail, one of the first questions asked is which applications will make the most sense for EVs. Again and again the answer comes back: last mile—and there are very good reasons for that.

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“Last-mile delivery is a natural fit for electric vehicles because it offers defined routes that can be planned to maximize the vehicle’s range and recharging opportunities,” Walker says.

Walker points to Ford’s forthcoming electric E-Transit, which is built on the same template as the existing Transit, something that Walker says will help ease the transition for fleets and drivers. 

As for the benefits: “Electric vehicles, in general, have lower maintenance costs than gas-powered vehicles,” he notes. “We’re projecting that scheduled maintenance costs for E-Transit over eight years/100,000 miles will be 40% less than for gas-powered Transit. Plus, electric vehicles are quiet; using an electric van may enable companies to make deliveries when local noise ordinances would prevent the use of a gas-powered vehicle.” 

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Ed. Note: Ford was featured on a recent episode of FE‘s Fleet Future podcast, and the conversation focused in part on how telematics can help electric vehicles succeed. Listen below or click here to hear the podcast.

On a similar note, Amazon electric delivery vans from Rivian are currently being tested in cities across the U.S. The van is an all-electric delivery vehicle which can drive up to 150 miles on a single charge, and the company says it is optimized for safety and an enhanced driver experience—and of course, Amazon has a vested interest in keeping the last mile market booming.

Elsewhere in the electric van market, we have vans from the Workhorse Group that are capable of running up to 100 miles on a charge, have ultra-low floors to reduce physical stress on workers’ knees and back, and a high roof design that maximizes cargo space in a small footprint (1,008 cu. ft. of cargo capacity), according to the manufacturer.

Additionally, in 2019 Thermo King partnered with Chanje to create a fully integrated refrigerated version of its V8100 all-electric last-mile delivery van. The van is equipped with a Thermo King V-520 RT refrigeration unit and ThermoLite solar panels.

And this is far from a comprehensive look at the burgeoning electric commercial vehicle space, which is consistently filling up with new options to meet the needs of a growing last mile market and an increasing number of interested fleets. From established players to newcomers to the commercial vehicle space, we’re sure to see a lot of options for those fleets interested in going electric in the coming months and years.

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