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Financial, Environmental and Health Benefits of Electrifying Last Mile Delivery

What are the benefits of electrifying last mile delivery operations for UK cities and the population who live and work in these emission hotspots?
Low Emission Zone Sign

Image Source: Getty Images


In this blog:  What Are Low Emission Zones?  |  Last Mile Delivery & Cities  |  Driving Down Business Costs  |  Where to Start  |  Download Guide

Cities have become hotspots for air pollution and congestion, so it’s not surprising that their decarbonisation is a core part of the UK’s net zero emissions by 2050 plans. As transport is the largest emitting sector in the UK, responsible for nearly a quarter of emissions, addressing the carbon footprint of transport in cities is a priority for local authorities. From electrifying public buses to cycle share schemes and low emission zones (LEZ), many cities have introduced initiatives to encourage cleaner transport methods. In this blog, we look at LEZs and how they impact last mile delivery fleets 

What Are Low Emission Zones?

LEZs are schemes designed to tackle air pollution and congestion in cities. By banning or charging polluting vehicles that don’t meet the euro emission standards for entering, these ‘clean air zones’ aim to encourage individuals and businesses to switch to cleaner transport methods like electric vehicles (EVs).   

There are already over 300 LEZs across Europe and 15 in the UK, including in major cities such as London, Birmingham, Newcastle upon Tyne, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. As more cities look to address their environmental impact and implement net zero plans, we can only expect this number to rise.  

Because last mile delivery vehicles frequently enter these low emission zones to deliver to destinations within the area, they have a big impact on city carbon emissions meaning they will also bear the brunt of LEZ charges.  

Last Mile Delivery and Cities

With home delivery skyrocketing in recent years, the carbon impact of that in urban areas can be significant, with some estimates suggesting they account for between 20 to 30% of a city’s emissions.  

Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) also emit a range of pollutants, which can have a worrying impact on public health. For example, poor air quality in cities has been linked to life-altering health conditions including lung, respiratory, and heart diseases. What’s more, the expansion of eCommerce and the growing demand for home delivery is expected to cause a 36% increase in delivery vehicles in inner cities by 2030. By switching to an electric fleet, a business can have a real positive environmental and health impact on urban areas and communities.  

Driving Down Business Costs

For many businesses, last mile delivery already represents a huge cost. But companies driving ICE courier fleets regularly within city LEZs could face further costs. Take the London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) as an example. The current daily charge is £12.50 for vehicles that don’t meet its standards, with an additional penalty of £180 if not paid. If one vehicle entered the zone every day for a month, this would add up to a cost of around £375. When this number is multiplied to include a whole fleet of vehicles and across a year, clean air zones quickly become a major business expense for non-electric last mile delivery fleets. And this price is only expected to increase as more cities embrace low emission initiatives.  

 On top of avoiding LEZ charges, upgrading to electric already offers multiple practical and cost benefits for businesses. For example, the average ICE vehicle has an efficiency of only around 40%, with 60% lost via heat and friction. This means ICEs consume far more energy travelling the same distance as an electric vehicle. Plus, with fewer parts, EVs also have much lower maintenance costs, which are on average 30% less than ICE vehicles. Add the fact charging at a depot is lower than the price of a full tank of petrol or diesel, then it becomes clear that the total cost of operation can be reduced by adopting an EV fleet for last mile deliveries. 

Where to Start with Electrifying Your Last Mile Delivery Fleet

Transitioning to an electric last mile delivery fleet is not only a choice that benefits the health and environment of urban areas, but also an economically viable choice that could generate savings in the long term. While most fleet managers are aware of the need to electrify, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Mer has recently put together a new guide to help you understand the process they follow, wherever your fleet is in its electrification journey.  

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