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New range of ultra-lightweight bodies to transform last-mile logistics

A British engineering firm has struck out in the commercial vehicle bodybuilding sector with a new range of ultra-lightweight bodies for 3.5-tonne commercial vehicles.

The new range of ultra-lightweight bodies for 3.5-tonne commercial vehicles have been designed to tackle all issues facing last-mile logistics fleets

Aimed at last-mile logistics firms, the firm’s new ‘Blue Ocean Home Delivery Pods’ draw on its experience with some of the biggest brands in the aerospace and automotive sectors, and use aerodynamic design and carbon fibre/recycled plastic to help cut carbon footprints; a total of 5,000 recycled plastic bottles are used to manufacture each pod.

The new pods can also deal with driver shortages thanks to increased operations efficiency. According to the business, the pods offer temperature-controlled and dry freight fleets running 3.5-tonners the ability to carry the same weight of goods in two journeys that a traditional vehicle would need three runs to deliver.

They’re the result of more than 10 years of research by Penso and a £16.3m investment – half from Penso and half from government matched-funding via the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) and Innovate UK.

The pods are compatible with diesel, electric and hybrid chassis – ensuring the design is future-proofed for next-generation vehicles.

Production is commencing with two initial models – an e-Grocery Pod as an upgrade for supermarket deliveries and an e-Delivery Pod, based on a Luton van. Ultimately, 30 different pods will be offered including medium- and high-roof van body variants with a choice of single and double compartments, twin rear doors and side-door loading configurations, plus tail-lift options. These will be built across different wheelbases and vehicle platforms to suit a variety of applications and fleets. All locking mechanisms for the pods are sourced from the chassis manufacturer and connected to the vehicle’s central locking system

Managing director Daniel Hurcombe said: “We have taken an entirely fresh approach, using new materials and processes to unlock major efficiency and sustainability improvements. Crucially, we can offer customers a clear road map to net zero emissions and dramatic improvements in total cost of ownership.”

He added: “We’ve worked closely with funders on our financial modelling and we are confident the financing and depreciation costs of the pod over 10 years are, at worst, the same as traditional technology. And in many ways they are less expensive, given a regular body would normally need replacing after five years.”

Penso also points to the ease of repair and significant increase in available payload capacity, which it says will more than offset the higher initial capital outlay.

After a decade, either on a single chassis or following a vehicle swap after five years, more than 95% of the structure can be recycled, including the carbon fibre, aluminium and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

All Blue Ocean Home Delivery Pods come with a 10-year structural warranty as standard, plus a three-year / 150,000-mile warranty on moving parts.

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Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, 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. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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