American multinational package delivery giant UPS (United Parcel Service) is introducing a fleet of custom-built hybrid electric trucks with batteries that can last 300% longer than a typical electric truck battery.
The newly unveiled hybrid electric trucks will not only quadruple the range of previous vehicles but automatically switch to the battery-only mode in UK cities and clean-air zones. On top of that, the trucks will have the same cargo capacity as like-sized diesel trucks. To begin with, they will be deployed in Southampton and Birmingham.
The trucks are developed in partnership with commercial electric vehicle tech startup Tevva. The aim, said UPS and Tevva, is to get ready for the UK’s strict “Net Zero” laws that will completely cut CO2 emissions by the year 2050.
“We can serve our customers with lower-emission, alternatively fueled vehicles in places beyond the reach of existing pure electric vehicles at this weight class,” said Luke Wake, director of automotive engineering & advanced technology, UPS International in a release.
UPS said the new trucks can travel up to 400 kilometers, or roughly 250 miles, an increase from the 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, basically operating at a much longer range than regular fully electric delivery trucks. UPS has more than 10,000 alternative fuel vehicles in its global fleet.
The crucial difference between these trucks and standard hybrid vehicles is that they’re capable of fully autonomously switching between purely electric motors and their diesel hybrid powertrains, and can do so with geofencing whenever they cross into and out of clean air or reduced emissions regulated zone.
The highlight of its new fleet is its capability to switch between modes to stay fair of local transportation bylaws. This is especially helpful where they’re rolling out in Birmingham and Southampton in the U.K., as Birmingham will introduce a clean air zone to block non-electric commercial vehicles in its city center by sometime next year.
UPS has used electric delivery vehicles in the past, but the range of its existing trucks meant they couldn’t make the trip from central depots to in-city drop-off points in every case. Plus, this hybridized solution will be able to carry a lot more packages than the fully electric trucks, which should lead to fewer cars on the road overall and less congestion, according to UPS
According to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) assessment, the latest hybrid trucks demonstrated 13%–20% higher fuel economy than the conventional trucks during the on-road portion of the study. Trucks account for 27% of carbon dioxide pollution in Europe and are one of the chief reasons for traffic congestions in city centers. UPS’s latest initiative provides a fruitful solution to both these public woes, as well as the United Kingdom’s intent to emit “Net Zero” vehicle pollution by 2050.