Electric Fleet

Most of us only think about UPS trucks when we're expecting a parcel or wondering whether it's true that they never make left turns. As the company's senior vice President Bob Stoffel explained to Big Think, it is, in fact, the company's practice to have drivers avoid making left turns to promote safety and fuel efficiency. According to an announcement made on Thursday, the company is forging ahead in their commitment to those goals with the intent to convert their New York city truck fleet from diesel to electric. UPS has partnered with Unique Electric Solutions LLC (UES LLC) to design, build, and test the converted vehicles.

“Public-private partnerships help push innovation forward and transform industries,” Carlton Rose, president for global fleet maintenance and engineering at UPS, said in a press release. The plan is also supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which is providing $500,000 for the development and testing of the conversion system.

The converted vehicles will use the UES-developed uniqueEV technology, whose vehicles supposedly have a single-charge range between 64.3 to 201 kilometers (40 to 125 miles). “This program will help UPS develop and deploy electric delivery trucks faster and more affordably. Because they are cleaner and quieter, electric vehicles are ideal for dense urban environments like New York City and are a critical part of our strategy for the future," Rose added.

Supporting NYC's Clean Energy Goals

The trucking industry is the latest to have joined the move towards electric vehicles, with long-haul delivery services anticipating electrification thanks to efforts by Tesla and Mercedes-Benz' parent company Daimler AG. It seemed only a matter of time before parcel delivery services like UPS would join in on the trend, converting smaller delivery trucks into EVs. Royal Mail, the oldest postal service in the United Kingdom, has already started using electric vans for deliveries.

NYSERDA hopes to have the first production version out by spring of 2018, which would put the company on track to meet their goal of converting 1,500 UPS delivery trucks (66 percent of the NYC fleet) to electric by 2022. That's in line with New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's goal of reducing the city's carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030.

“This project is a prime example of the State’s investment in new and innovative technology that can help us meet Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading clean energy goals," NYERDA president and CEO Alicia Barton said in a press statement. "I applaud UPS and Unique Electric Solutions for their leadership in developing this system that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and has tremendous potential to be used by the entire delivery industry.”

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