FedEx is trialing electric carts for its express service in 10 US and Canadian cities throughout 2022, CNBC reported on Friday.
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As eCommerce keeps growing, the availability of parking spaces and loading zones in metropolitan cities is becoming a significant problem with more delivery vehicles competing for the few spaces available.
Adobe data suggests that online spending reached $1.7 trillion during the pandemic. While growth may be slowing down a bit now, many consumers have permanently shifted their buying to online.
In addition, some cities are looking to prioritize curb access to loading zones for green vehicles. For example, New York City has a project to launch Green Loading Zones in the first half of 2022.
Other cities are imposing restrictions or congestion fees trying to cut down on trucks or traffic in highly dense areas, all of which impact the cost and efficiency of deliveries for courier companies like FedEx.
With urban planners shifting their priorities to make urban areas greener, access, loading zones, and parking options may become even more limited for gas and diesel-powered delivery vehicles quickly.
“A lot of cities don’t want commercial vehicles operating during the day in some of these markets. Urban mobility is a component to being able to continue the movement of goods during the day during business hours.”Russ Musgrove, Managing Director for Global Vehicles, FedEx Express (to CNBC)
This forces delivery companies to look at creative solutions to address the changing environment while also having to manage higher delivery volumes from more people and businesses shopping online.
The FedEx Electric Carts Pilot Program
FedEx is using EP1 electric carts made by General Motors’ BrightDrop electric commercial vehicles division for this test. FedEx is encouraged by the preliminary results of this pilot program, CNBC reports.
In its launch cities of New York and Toronto, the company found that the EP1 electric carts enabled couriers to deliver about 15% more packages per day.
While the program is still in its infancy, and not all 10 North American cities have been identified yet where FedEx will be testing this program, the company’s initial assessment appears promising.
FedEx plans to advance the program by what could be considered a mobile hub system with trucks and delivery vans transporting multiple electric carts to delivery routes and couriers. The company estimates that this scheme could reduce the use of trucks on delivery routes by up to 25% per day.
“You’re serving skyscrapers and very dense areas. What this allows us to do is cut down on the number of vehicles required to service that route, and have the courier operate in a more efficient manner so they are not going back and forth to a truck.”Russ Musgrove, Managing Director for Global Vehicles, FedEx Express (to CNBC)
FedEx is also already looking ahead beyond the US and Canada.
Musgrove told CNBC the company sees the greatest potential upside of its electric cart program in international cities such as Sao Paulo, Barcelona and Hong Kong.
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