The Electrification of Road Freight Marches Forward

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©. Tesla

Moving stuff doesn't have to mean burning oil.

DHL aren't the only shipping company introducing electric vehicles. In fact, several new developments suggest more and more of our stuff will be moved by electric motor in the not too distant future.

UPS, for example, is deploying stationary energy storage and smart electric vehicle charging at its London depot to allow its entire, city-wide fleet to go all electric. And that's hot on the heels of news from Business Green that green logistics specialist Gnewt Cargo has installed London's largest electric vehicle charging site (63 stations) to power its fleet of 100 electric delivery vans. Meanwhile, CNET reports that FedEx just ordered 20 Tesla Semi trucks (btw, ahem, UPS already ordered 125).

Of course, each of these announcements are but a drop in the ocean of the huge amounts of stuff that's moved each and every day by dirty, polluting trucks and vans. But they are still encouraging.

While very real questions remain about how fast, and how completely, private car owners will either abandon their personal vehicles or switch over to electric, I can't help but feeling that fleet managers will do so a lot faster thanks to both access to capital, and the fact that they tend to make decisions on a rational, financial basis. (Let's face it, few of us individual citizens are exactly rational when it comes to buying cars.) And while I can totally see—and hope for—cities where people come before cars, our collective online shopping habits suggest that moving stuff will be a necessity for some time to come.

Yes, trains can take on much of the long distance freight transport. And yes, cargo bikes can indeed take on a good chunk of urban freight logistics. But there are in-between journeys, larger loads, and places where rail is not accessible where road transport is likely to dominate for a good deal of time to come.

The quicker that freight goes electric for these applications, the better for everyone.