The popularity of less emission vehicles is constantly growing not only in the passenger transport, but also in the goods segment. Currently, a number of automotive companies are offering or are preparing to launch electric freight vehicles (EFVs). Investments in electro-mobility in the commercial vehicles segment are carried out by companies from around the world - from small start-ups hoping to find a market niche, to large corporations which, through the diversification of the offer, aim to strengthen their position. One of the main factors leading to electro-mobility is the European Union's treaty about reducing carbon emissions and the issue of vehicles emission standards. According to the guidelines, emissions from commercial vehicles should be reduced (more than 30%) by the year 2030. To achieve that goal, manufacturers should prove standards obedience, ensure that the expected performance may be achieved, provide data on carbon dioxide emissions or fuel consumption and use only legal devices for emission effectiveness control. On the other hand, authorities should only approve vehicles complying with the regulations, prohibit pollution mitigation devices and increase penalties for wrong practices. Manufacturers and their vehicles that fail to comply with regulations will be prohibited within the EU.

Electric Freight Vehicles Availability in EUFAL Countries

The authors of the FREVUE project report “D1.3: State of the art city logistics and EV” specified the detailed factors that influence successful implementation of EFVs in everyday logistic operations in a city (Nesterova et al. 2013):

  • Technical performance
    Travel range of EFVs usually does not exceed 100 - 150 km, even though the values specified by manufacturers tend to be higher. Potential stakeholders declare a greater interest in EFVs if they see improvement of operational parameters such as travel range, operation time with a battery, increasing the number of charging points and charging stations.
  • Operational performance
    EFVs show both positive and negative features in comparison to IC engine vehicles. The positive features include the limited impact on the natural environment and decrease in noise level, which translates into their usability in city centres and time windows. At the same time, the charging, carrying capacity, maintenance and the need to adjust the logistic concepts to EFV application are perceived by operators to be the major operational challenges.
  • Economics
    Purchase price and total cost of ownership (TCO) still exceed corresponding values related to conventional vehicles. This results mainly from high costs of batteries and EFV small production limits. In a long run the costs are expected to diminish, which will be connected with improving the operational parameters and efficiency, cutting the purchase prices e.g. as a result of mass production. Resale value is highly unknown, which stops investors from making purchase on the primary market.
  • Environmental performance
    EFVs cause less CO2 emissions compared to their conventional counterparts, however, their demand for energy as well as energy prices in a long run and energy capacities of individual countries require analyses and research studies), social and attitudinal impact (EFVs are less noisy and more environmentally friendly than conventional ones, therefore most of the public show a positive view on this direction of development.
  • Impact of local policy and governance structure
    Governments of many European countries take up new directives aimed at increasing the use of EFVs while decreasing the use of conventional vehicles.

Nowadays EFVs demonstrate better and better performance parameters (longer travel range, more capacious batteries and more carrying capacity). In recent years many vehicles with appropriate parameters have been developed. Nevertheless, the availability of EFV’s on the market is the major condition for successful development of electro-mobility in city logistics.

Nowadays many different electric freight vehicles are available. However, it should be underlined that there are a lot of differences on this market between countries in Europe. For instance in Poland till 2020 only four companies offer EFV. Much more interesting offers are available in more experienced in electro-mobility development, like Germany, Austria, Denmark.  The table 1 introduced the examples of EFV’s availability in chosen EUFAL countries. More details related to the technical parameters of the vehicles introduced in the table are available here.

Table 1: Examples of Electric Vehicles Availability until 2020 in selected Countries.

Source: Own Work.

Chosen Examples of Utilization of Electric Vehicles in Pools and Companies

Nowadays electro-mobility becomes step by step more interesting option for companies. This is the result of significant technical improvements, especially related to the distance and battery capacity. Due to that more and more companies and organizations start to test and use electric vehicles for their operational work. However, mostly it’s still on experimental level. According to the analysis of the experiences in EUFAL project countries, the most interesting area of activities suitable for EFV utilization seemed to be courier, post and goods delivery market. The examples introduced in the Table 2 are available till June of 2020.

Table 2: Examples of Electric Vehicles in Fleets.

Source: Own Work.

Example of Electric Vehicle Efficiency in a Courier Company

Under the EUFAL project some analysis and experiments related to the efficiency of EFVs utilization have been realised. The studies were focused on testing the selected model of an electric van (Nissan e-NV200 40kWh) with regard to workload analysis in relation to the parcel groups (assortment groups) and customer groups (B2B/B2C). Moreover, it includes the analysis and evaluation of any problems related to last mile deliveries in the context of reasonability of implementing urban depot systems. The study was realized in two cities of Poland – Stargard and Szczecin in cooperation with one courier company.

The vehicle used in the experiment had a loading space with a total volume of 4.2 m3 (Table 3). This value was adopted as the reference logistic module of the module characterizing the spatial transport potential of the vehicle (except for the load capacity). Therefore, in further considerations about the potential of the ability to perform operational tasks in an KEP market enterprise, the multiplication of the reference logistic module was adopted as the ability to operate the service individual routes (along with their assigned feet) in terms of spatial volume, by multiplicity of reference value (4.2 m3), like e.g. 1.5 of logistic module equals 6.3 m3.

Table 3: The capacity comparison of chosen electric and traditional fuelled freight vehicles.

Source: Own Work.

 The research was carried out in the course of daily operation cycles of the courier. Based on the data gathered during 12 experiments (Table 4), a number of indicators was developed to quantify the parameters of the delivery areas and the characteristics of the performed transport work. It is particularly important to note that the distances covered by both traditional fuelled vehicles and EVs during the study were relatively small due to the fact that each of the couriers was handling his own, relatively compact delivery area which corresponded to a specific part of the city. Hence, the indicators that seem to be more reliable for the purposes of describing transport work seem to be those taking into account the number of stops in relation to the delivered/ picked-up consignments, or the number of stops in relation to the customers served, and average distances between the points of delivery (stops). It should be stressed that regardless of the initial EV battery level, at the end of the courier’s working day the battery level never fell below 50 % (Fig. 1). When the working day started with a full battery, upon completion of the work there was still 65 % of the battery capacity left even in the case of the longest courier route (exceeding 70 km).

Table 4: Routes Characteristics.

Source: Own Work.

Figure 1: The battery level in the course of providing courier delivery services.

Source: Own Work.

This proves that the range offered by the Nissan eNV200 is more than sufficient for the needs of couriers working in the Szczecin branch of DPD (Fig. 2). The driving range of an electric vehicle is a parameter that is estimated by the in-vehicle computer (on-board device), based on the consumption of the electric power by the engine as well as other electric devices such as air-conditioning or lighting system, or windshield wipers. An important factor is also the driving style and making use of the recuperation mode. The driving range curves presented in Fig. 2 clearly indicate that, depending on the distance covered, the greatest consumption of electric power in the course of driving within the delivery area is related to a long operation time of electric devices other than the engine over a relatively small distance, as well as necessity of acceleration and breaking vehicle mass on very short distances. Nevertheless, every day on returning to the company premises the electric van still showed a driving range of at least 120 km.

Figure 2: The driving range of the EVs in the course of providing courier delivery services.

Source: Own Work.

The important research question was to assess on what manner the specificity of the delivery area can influence on the energy consumption. The major parameter taken to the account was the distance between the warehouse and delivery area. Following that the routes have been clustering according to the distance to the first stop and from the last one. The clustering process has been realized with utilization of k-means method:


         d(v; x) – Euclidian distance of element x to centroid v,

         k – number of clusters,

         N – number of elements.

Finally, three data groups have been identified. Based on the clustering data the average energy consumption per each group has been calculated (Tab. 5).

Table 5: Average energy consumption per groups.

Source: Own Work.

Group A represents the average towns of the Szczecin agglomeration, distant from the DPD warehouse, which in consequence causes that a small percent of the distance travelled is located in delivery area (DA), it’s about 30 %. Group B are densely built-up areas located in the very centre of the city, slightly away from the DPD warehouse, so the percent of the distance covered in the delivery area ranges between 40 and 65 %. Group C are areas in direct proximity of the DPD warehouse in which the distance in the DA exceeds 80 %.

Figure 3 and 4 show energy consumption per stop and per delivery address. There is visible increase in the amount of energy consumed per stop and per delivery address correlated with the increase of percent distance in the DA. This means that driving consisting of continuous acceleration and stopping of the vehicle and keeping it in operational readiness causes much more energy consumption than continuous driving. It should be noticed that the more percentage of the distance is located in the DA, the greater consumption calculated per 100 km, which confirms the above.

Figure 3: The energy consumption per groups.

Source: own study.

Figure 4: The energy consumption per groups.

Source: own study.

According to the results, the longer distance between warehouse and delivering points will not influence on the increasing of energy consumption, unlike the number of stops. It means that the most important parameter, which should be considered during the electric freight vehicles routes planning, is the number of deliveries per vehicle.

  • Nesterova N., Quak H., Balm S., Roche-Cerasi I., Tretvik T. (2013) FREVUE 2.1 final report D1.3: State of the art city logistics and EV, European Commission Seventh framework programme, FP7-TRANSPORT-2012-MOVE-1, Demonstration of Urban freight Electric Vehicles for clean city logistics (theme: GC.SST.2012.1-7), 17 December 2013.
  • https://www.dpdhl.com/de/presse/specials/emobilitaet.html, 25pm-brennstoffzellen-h2-panel-van-streetscooter-20190524.pdf

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