The UK Government is considering the introduction of incentives to encourage delivery firms to ditch combustion-engined vans for eco-friendly modes of transport during the last leg of their service.
So-called 'last mile' deliveries, where goods are taken from a delivery hub to their final destination, often still rely on diesel vans. However, particularly in built-up areas, the use of zero-emission vehicles or bicycles is now considered more efficient while also drastically reducing emissions from the delivery process.
Several firms that focus on this section of delivery have already been established while leading delivery company UPS announced earlier this year that its fleet of 170 central London delivery vehicles would be swapped for electric alternatives.
However, the UK government is understood to be eager to drastically increase the percentage of businesses utilising zero-emission vehicles as part of its wider plans to cut transport emissions in the UK.
“The Government has announced it is considering further options for reducing emissions for 'last mile' deliveries, to be set out by cycling and walking minister Jesse Norman,” the Department for Transport (DfT) said.
It said that “providing grants and/or other financial incentives to support the use of e-cargo bikes” is being considered. E-cargo bikes are electrically assisted pedal bicycles that can carry up to 125kg of cargo. They have an electric motor of up to 250W to provide torque to the rear wheel at speeds of up to 15mph.
E-cargo bikes are being used in a trial shopping delivery scheme, supported through the Innovation Challenge Fund and operated with Sainsburys. The results of this scheme will be revealed to the government.
The proposal follows the Government's confirmation that the plug-in car grant and van grant would be continued. The DfT said it emphasises the Government’s commitment to its “climate and clean air targets as part of £1.5 billion (Rs 13,673 crore) being spent on ultra-low emission vehicles to 2021”.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) boss Mike Hawes said earlier today that a shift to electric transport would need a “world-class package of incentives to drive demand”. A new report, published earlier, recommends that the Mayor of London provide free parking for EVs in the capital.