Making the Last Mile Count
In the race to zero emissions driving, we often focus just on personal-use vehicles. But commercial vehicles form a large percentage of vehicles on American roads. And as our economy goes more and more online, the carbon footprint of delivering packages continues to increase. Which is why decarbonizing deliveries is so important: there are hundreds of thousands of gasoline- and diesel-powered vans used by courier services that cover the last mile in deliveries – and are the first step when we want to ship a package.
In that vein, FedEx has announced plans to transform its entire parcel pickup and delivery (PUD) fleet to all-electric, zero-tailpipe emissions by 2040, a move that will have a profound effect on the company’s carbon footprint. Earlier this year it took delivery of its first 150 all-electric delivery vehicles, made by BrightDrop, a new technology startup from General Motors.
In just under six months, FedEx has deployed the new BrightDrop Zevo 600s into its pickup and delivery fleet in California. That’s impressive, in today’s climate of chip shortages and supply-chain issues.
BrightDrop Zevo 600
Designed to maximize cargo hauling capacity while eliminating the carbon footprint of traditional delivery vehicles, the BrightDrop Zevo was developed in record time. Indeed, GM says the Zevo 600 came to market faster than any vehicle in its history.
Powered by GM’s Ultium Platform, the Zevo 600 has 250 miles of range from a full charge, giving it more than enough reach to go through a daily routine of deliveries, even to more remote locations. With all-wheel drive and 300 horsepower, it’s capable in the cut-and-thrust of urban environments and in all weather conditions. And 120-kW DC fast charging and 11.5-kW AC charging means that it can be refueled quickly.
Beyond its electric capabilities, the Zevo 600 is purpose-built from the ground up for delivery services. It has improved access to cargo through a huge rear door, and low step-in heights to help streamline delivery of goods and services. It is also easily outfitted to suit individual business needs.
And unlike most delivery vans, the BrightDrop Zevo 600 comes with the same suite of safety systems you’d find on a modern EV, including automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, pedestrian detection, a high-def rear view camera, and park assist.
To support the new vehicle technology, FedEx is building charging infrastructure across its vast network of facilities, including the more than 500 charging stations the company has already installed across California. FedEx is also actively working with utility companies to help evaluate and determine the capacity needed for electrical grids to support such charging infrastructure and is investing to expand on-site generation and procurement of renewable energy in its facilities.
FedEx also says the 150 BrightDrop vans are just the first; indeed, it has ordered 2,500 units, which will spearhead the transition of its entire fleet of pickup and delivery vans to full-electric driving.
In 2003, FedEx was the first delivery company to use hybrid vehicles for pickup and delivery and, in 1994, the company used its first electric vehicle – an acid battery-powered vehicle in California. To complement the company’s efforts to reduce its environmental impact in its own operations, FedEx has been an advocate for improved fuel efficiency standards and policies to support the commercial deployment of alternative-fuel vehicles.