UPS has introduced a new line of range-extended electric vehicles to its fleet, bringing a 250-mile range that overcomes key EV issues for the logistics industry.
The vehicles – developed in collaboration with UK electric trucks firm Tevva and part-funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and Innovate UK – form part of UPS’s ‘rolling laboratory’ strategy to develop a variety of alternative fuel vehicles, including its work to deploy electric delivery trucks.
Deployed on UPS’s fleets serving Birmingham and Southampton, the hybrid electric vehicle technology gain four times more range to connect inner-city distribution centres to out-of-town depots whilst maintaining the cargo capacity of traditional diesel vehicles of the same weight class, thanks to their 23m3 of space.
The bespoke solution comprises a high-performance electric powertrain with an in-series hybrid combination, utilising a significantly smaller and efficient diesel engine that can provide additional range when needed. The 150kW electric motor provides an electronically limited ability of up to 2,000Nm of torque while the 74kWh lithium-ion battery gives an operational EV range in excess of 100km (62 miles). The total average combined power range stands at around 400km (some 250 miles), rendering them far more practical than the current generation of 7.5 tonne electric delivery vehicles, which have an average range of around 60 miles.
The vehicles use geofencing technology to automatically switch to pure electric mode when reaching a predetermined boundary, such as prior to entering an urban environment or Clean Air Zone. They then switch to the on-board range extender, making use of diesel engine to recharge the battery, for example on motorways connecting neighbouring towns and cities or to make a journey back to the UPS depot.
“This is a big breakthrough for our continued use of electric vehicles in the UK – and for the communities we serve,” says Luke Wake, director of automotive engineering & advanced technology, UPS International. “The range jump from 100km to 400km is the result of UPS’s latest collaboration with Tevva. We can serve our customers with lower emission, alternatively fuelled vehicles in places beyond the reach of existing pure electric vehicles at this weight class. Since 2009, UPS has invested more than $1 billion in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles and fuelling stations globally. But news like this really brings home the evolution of our rolling laboratory – you can now actually see progress like this out on the roads in and out of Birmingham and Southampton.”
UPS has already deployed 10 of the trucks for its delivery fleet at its Tamworth depot – ahead of Birmingham’s plans to deploy a Clean Air Zone in 2020 – and an additional five in Southampton.