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First Penso carbon fibre pods go into service with Asda

Breakthrough UK-developed ultra-lightweight pods are going into service on the Asda delivery fleet, helping to cut down on journeys and emissions.

Launch customer Asda is taking an initial order for 25 Blue Ocean Home Delivery Pods

The new pods, announced earlier this year, have been developed by British engineering firm Penso and feature a triple compartment construction, using a blend of carbon fibre and recycled plastic, to drive up efficiency and drive down CO2 and NOx emissions.

The Blue Ocean Home Delivery Pods can transport approximately the same weight of goods in two journeys that a traditional vehicle carries in three. As well as being greener to run, they also enable more drops to be completed per load, helping to meet increased customer demand.

Their eco benefits have already been recognised by launch customer Asda, which is taking an initial order for 25 units, supplied on a 3.5-tonne medium wheelbase, front-wheel-drive, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis.

The Asda pods have initially been deployed in areas where drivers face increased mileage to reach customers in remoter areas, such as parts of the east coast of England. Simon Gregg, Asda’s vice president of online grocery home shopping, said the vehicles would make a real difference to cutting the supermarket giant’s carbon footprint.

“As a business, we are constantly looking at ways we can reduce our carbon emissions, not just because we know that sustainability is important to our customers and colleagues, but because all of us have a responsibility, and it’s just the right thing to do, making improvements wherever we can,” he explained.

Key to the near-400kg increase in payload capacity is Penso’s composite sandwich panel technology, which features 5,000 recycled plastic bottles in the structural core of every pod. Each closed cell foam sandwich panel is then wrapped with carbon fibre to prevent long-term water ingress – and backed by a 10-year structural warranty.

Vitally for fleets, Penso’s pods are compatible with diesel, electric and hybrid models – ensuring the design is future-proofed and can be easily transferred onto next-generation vehicles.

Daniel Hurcombe, managing director of Penso, commented: “Retailers and logistics operators are under huge pressure to increase delivery slots, at the same time as reducing their carbon footprint and improving efficiency. What we’ve done at Penso is create a solution which delivers tangible benefits in all of these areas, using every ounce of our experience in light-weighting projects for the aerospace, rail and automotive sectors.”

The pods are being produced at Penso’s Coventry headquarters, which has the capability to build up to 10,000 dry freight and temperature controlled pods each year, with production to ramp up steadily over the next five years.

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Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has nearly 20 years of fleet journalism experience, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.

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