Today’s Black Friday event is not only expected to see highest-ever levels of online shopping but also the highest-ever emissions levels as a result of deliveries.
With the majority of High Street shops still shut under the lockdown, shoppers are heading online in droves – figures already published by Nationwide show that despite the shop closures, spending amongst its customers was up 2% at midday compared to last year’s Black Friday.
And new figures published yesterday (26 November) from Nexus Vehicle Rental say it’s seen record demand for van rentals, with the firm having facilitated more than 20,000 rental vehicles in operation on a single day.
But Geotab’s UK & Ireland MD David Savage has warned that record levels of Black Friday shopping could bring record emissions levels and said the Government should step up its work to encourage commercial vehicle operators to switch to EVs.
He commented: “The announcement made by the Prime Minister last week on the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars is a step in the right direction, but the Government must double down on making the switch to electric vehicles viable for commercial fleets, with a particular focus on HGVs, vans and last-mile infrastructure to support the majority of deliveries. Yes, its recent incentives for driving EV adoption will help with this – a focus on charging infrastructure and consumer tax reductions will certainly make it easier for the public, but we must double down on businesses.
“The pandemic has helped UK energy demand go green, and we want to see this continue post-Covid. Over the coming months and years, Geotab would like to see the Government focus on business fleet transitions to EV to help the UK hit its climate objectives. Converting a large portion of typically diesel engine HGVs and vans will help greatly with this, and there are free tools to help inform that decision making process – such as our own Electric Vehicles Suitability Assessment (EVSA).
“We appreciate that transitions require a sizeable investment and decisions can’t be made lightly. Larger-scale production of EVs will aid, but the business incentives and subsidies must be on a par. We need to see both businesses and individuals working together to a common goal for the UK’s green transport transformation be truly realised.”
Amazon has recently announced moves to green its fleet; it’s adding more than 1,800 Mercedes-Benz electric vans to its delivery fleet in Europe this year and has also revealed its first-ever customised electric delivery vehicle.
And new research from Ford shows there’s high demand for eco-friendly deliveries, with some shoppers happy to wait and even pay more for such options.
A survey commissioned on its behalf among 1,000 people in the UK and Germany found more than half (58%) of shoppers said they would prefer their delivery service used an electric-powered vehicle, and 49% would be prepared to wait longer for greener deliveries. The number of shoppers who would be prepared to pay extra for more energy-efficient deliveries was fewer – but still totalled 28%.
It’s not just the emissions from record online Black Friday sales that are expected to be an issue though; FORS is also warning that Black Friday and the festive season in general could bring risk issues for light commercial fleets, with more vans than ever completing urban deliveries.
Paul Wilkes, business services manager for the voluntary accreditation scheme, said operators should ensure drivers are working as safely and efficiently as possible.
He added: “During the height of the first national lockdown, delivery drivers were rightly considered keyworkers. Our reliance on our mobile workforce of van drivers is even more prevalent in this busy winter season – the contribution to the UK economy from the LCV sector is vast.
“We must make sure this fleet of drivers, for whom the roads is their place of work, are supported with the tools they need to ensure their safety and the safety of those who share the roads.”