Ultra Low Emission Vehicles & Urban Logistics

Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Fleets

The number of ULEVs classified as LGVs is on the increase in the UK (broadly speaking this includes electric vehicles and those with hydrogen fuel cells). Figures from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency show that new registrations are increasing:

The number of new registations of ULEV Vans and Light Goods Vehicles in the UK is increasing

Increase in number of ULEV LGV New Registrations (from DVLA figures)

However, the speed of uptake seems not to be as fast as for cars. The equivalent figures from the DVLA for cars show a rapid acceleration around 2014:

The number of new registations of cars in the UK is increasing

Increase in number of ULEV Car New Registrations (from DVLA figures)

Comparing the two sets of data, LGV registrations seem to have steadily increased, while car registrations “took off” in 2014. New car registrations quadrupled in 2014, while LGVs went up by a significant but smaller proportion. Comparing 2017 with 2014, there has been a 250% increase in new car registrations but only a 70% increase for LGVs.

New Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) Announcements

This may change however, due to a couple of factors. The first of course is that cities are starting define ULEZs and to apply financial incentives to encourage the use of ULEVs in these areas. London, Leeds, York and Glasgow have already confirmed ULEZ plans, while many other cities are working on proposals.

Global Action Plan's Clean Van Commitment already has many of the UK's largest van operators signed up, with an aim to have 100% zero emission vans in cities by 2028. This, and other similar initiatives, is likely to encourage increased adoption of ULEVs for other LGV delivery operations.

Although perhaps a bit further away, electric HGVs may well be commonly available also. DAF's recent trial of a fully electric truck is one of several projects underway.

Electric Delivery Vehicle Routing

One factor that may be limiting the uptake of ULEVs for delivery operations is the increased complexity of the logistics process.

In the short- to medium-term at least, ULEVs are likely to have a shorter range than conventionally propelled vehicles, which means that logistics operators have to be cleverer about how to deploy and route such vehicles.

Urban Hubs and Micro-hubs

ULEVs are well-suited to the last-mile leg of the journey in a city, where the distance travelled is not large, and the vehicle spends a high proportion of its time stationary.

However, the goods still need to be brought into the city, coming from locations which are likely to be outside the range of the ULEV.

This requires optimization of the hub location, size and fleet, as well as operational synchronisation of the inbound/outbound trunking operation.

Load Optimization

For delivery operations covering a slightly larger territory within an urban area, the vehicle's range can become a factor.

In particular, the load carried can affect the range significantly - a heavy load drains the battery much faster than if the vehicle is running empty.

Electric charging points are becoming more widely available, and in some cases it might be possible to re-charge a vehicle mid-shift while out on the road, but this would only be cost-effective if the charge time is short and the operation can coincide with e.g. the driver's lunchbreak.

New Algorithms

Therefore new optimization algorithms are needed that take into account these additional constraints to maximise the efficiency of the ULEV fleet while synchronising it with corresponding trunking and hub/consolidation activity.

Furthermore, as the range of delivery vehicle types increases (hybrid, electric, fuel cell, cargo-bikes, perhaps even drones at some point), the requirements on the optimization engine will continue to evolve.

This is why MJC² is devoting a substantial proportion of its innovation activity on these areas. Our core algorithm base already addresses many of these complexities, but by continuously enhancing and extending our capabilities we believe we will be able to ensure that the optimization technology keeps pace with the rapid changes taking place in urban logistics.



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