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EV Route Planning Can Simplify Last Mile Fleet Electrification

EV route planning can give fleet managers the confidence to introduce electric vehicles to their last mile fleet operations, and even improve their ROI.

Electric delivery van charging at depot

Last mile logistics requires fleets to be agile and responsive to change. This means some operators are reluctant to deploy electric vans and trucks due to their limited range of capabilities. In this article, we explain how fleet route planning can help logistics managers: 

  • Achieve a better financial return on investment from EVs 
  • Identify which vehicles and routes are “EV-ready” 
  • React to changing customer demands or road diversions 
  • Plan top-up charges while out in the field 

A Smooth Transition for Electric Last Mile Delivery

Electric vans and trucks are ideal for last mile delivery fleets, as they are typically operating on urban routes with predictable mileage and excel on roads with low traffic speeds. 

Nevertheless, some operators remain wary of introducing electric vans and trucks into their last mile fleets in case they have a negative operational impact. Last mile delivery is a highly competitive sector where margins are tight. Customers are unforgiving and have plenty of other providers to choose from, so if EVs do not perform, it can lead to losing contracts. 

How Can Fleet Route Planning Help?

Making your electric last mile fleet work efficiently by using proper route planning can make the transition from petrol/diesel vehicles much easier, and more cost effective.  

Firstly, it will make your electric fleet even more environmentally friendly. Take the time to think through and plan a delivery route that makes logical sense, by looking holistically at your entire operation and the stops it needs to make in a shift. This will reduce the mileage the vehicle covers in a shift. Reducing mileage means less energy consumed by each EV, which in turn means lower emissions. It also reduces wear and tear on vehicles and makes your last mile logistics even more efficient, meaning route optimisation is better for the bottom line. 

Currently, EVs are more expensive to buy or lease than diesel vans and trucks. However, route optimisation can help you find the sweet spot to sweat those assets while avoiding the risk of the batteries going flat out on the road. 

How to Plan Electric Last Mile Delivery Routes

Route planning platforms and apps, also known as scheduling or optimisation, can help ensure that electrification is a smooth transition for last mile logistics operators. By taking data from your existing operations and running it through the optimisation algorithm, you can easily identify which routes and vehicles are already suitable for EVs. Typically, this is a simple matter of ensuring that the EV has sufficient range and payload to complete a full shift and can slot into your existing operations without you needing to make major changes. 

However, a good optimisation platform will go a step further. By crunching all the numbers, it can tell you how to change your routes, schedules and vehicle loads to accommodate more EVs.  

Rapid Response for Logistics Fleets

There is a famous military saying that no plan survives first contact with the enemy – and the same is true when it comes to planning last mile deliveries. A route planner can devise the best routes and delivery schedules to minimise mileage and empty running; but it cannot predict emergency road closures, heavy congestion, or last-minute changes from customers. 

Luckily, the route planning software developers have already got this covered. A good route optimisation platform can recalculate routes in real time, helping to ensure that you can still meet client delivery windows and avoid late delivery penalties. 

Removing Range Anxiety

When your business model is based around delivering the goods on time, you cannot afford for EVs to run out of charge mid-shift. 

Fleet scheduling software can help here, as if a vehicle needs an extra hour on the charger before it leaves the depot, the optimiser can plan that in.  

Similarly, if a vehicle must go beyond its range capabilities while out in the field, you can find a suitable charging location and plan a top-up charge into its schedule. 


Learn More from Mer’s Charging Experts

Adding electric vehicles to your last mile fleet can bring significant benefits – but it requires careful planning and working with expert partners. Getting it wrong is not an option, as it can be the difference between business success and failure. If you’d like to find out more about how to electrify your last mile logistics operations, Mer is here to help. 

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