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UPS Goes Electric With New Vans

Hello and welcome to your daily Charge Smart blog! Today, we will be talking about UPS' new vans!

Above: The new UPS Arrival vans

UPS’ iconic brown/black delivery vans have become a worldwide symbol of the company. Now, their famous branded vans could be undergoing a major shift. Don’t worry, they are not changing the famous colours.

The American parcel and delivery company have announced that they will buy 10,000 EV vans from a British start-up called Arrival. Along with this, they will also be buying a minor stake in the new company. This wasn’t the only big piece of news to come out of the American giant recently as they also announced their partnership with Alphabet Inc, that’s Google’s parent company. The reason behind that partnership is so that UPS can test using self-driving parcel delivery vans with Waymo (an Alphabet subsidiary) over the next six months.

The delivery company has already stated that they see electric vehicles as a major part of their future sustainability efforts. Arrival will customize the vehicles according to UPS’ requirements and so far, they have come up with a pretty sweet looking concept van. The idea will also be to have standardized delivery vans so parts can be shared to reduce the cost of maintenance. There’s another benefit with using EV vans over diesel ones where EVs have much lower servicing costs compared to their ICE relatives along with the obvious saving on fuel where electricity is a lot cheaper than the fossilised stuff.

So far, plans are to use these vans across the North American and European markets. Their future plans of a large EV fleet also offer another key benefit. UPS will be able to work with companies to develop a large scale charging technology for their fleet. Something that will improve the usability of these EV vans in the proposed markets.

The company’s chief information & engineering officer said that UPS plans to help solve road congestion and pollution through their new initiatives. The ultimate goal is for them to create happy customers and communities. There’s your daily dose of PR jargon.

Anyway, this isn’t the first time that UPS and Arrival have worked together. The two companies have already done a trial of 35 EV delivery vans in London and Paris. Their partnership means that UPS managed to gather a lot of data on how their EV vans can be used more efficiently on the road and how they can make life a little more convenient for their drivers in terms of managing charging and range during the day. The two companies also plan to further their relationship by testing self-driving vans on a UPS owned facility whose location is not yet known.

Arrival are currently locking horns with Rivian because they have a partnership with Amazon. That’s important because Rivian will be providing Amazon with over 100,000 EV delivery vans over the next few years, it remains to be seen how they’ll meet those targets but we’ll let them handle that.

Above: The front end of the van is yet to be seen

UPS’ trials of self-driving vans have already begun in the Phoenix area where a Waymo autonomous van will be responsible for transporting parcels from UPS stores to their sorting facility. Initially, there will be a Waymo engineer onboard to measure the self-driving van’s daily operations. If this test is a success, then UPS have not denied the possibility of expanding their trials to more stores and including more vehicles as well. The whole purpose behind this new project is for UPS to deliver packages to their sorting facilities more often and faster which in turn helps with delivering parcels to the customers faster. Essentially, they are trying to find out if self-driving vans can actually improve the efficiency of delivering parcels or whether they’ll end up crashing into people’s houses while they are out on the job.

By the way, FedEx are also planning their own self-driving robots for home and office parcel delivery.

Thanks for reading! Check back in tomorrow when we look at how business fleets could stimulate EV demand.

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