Over the past ten years, electric cars have really come into their own. Electric delivery vehicles are the next logical step. They’re cheap to run, reliable, and environmentally friendly. And more companies than ever are starting to use them.
Why Electric Delivery Vehicles?
Early electric vehicles (EVs) had some definite problems. First, the technology wasn’t yet widespread. As a result, replacement parts were hard to find. In addition, mechanics trained to service electric vehicles were few and far between.
Second, early electric vehicles had such a limited range that they would have been a poor choice for a delivery fleet. Moreover, many didn’t have the power to be a safe choice for highway travel. Not to mention the fact that the weight of the batteries required to power a large vehicle made such vehicles impractical.
But all that has changed. Many mainstream auto manufacturers are producing electric cars in record numbers. Ford, Mercedes, Toyota, Hyundai, Chevrolet — all names familiar to individual and commercial drivers alike. Battery technology has reached new heights. And there’s a lively trade in EV parts. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that mechanics — including EV mechanics — can expect good job growth in the near future.
Now is the perfect time for businesses to invest in a fleet of clean, reliable electric delivery vehicles. And many companies are doing just that.
- Image CC by 2.0 by Toll Group, via Wikimedia Commons.
What Kinds of Businesses are Going Electric?
All kinds! Medium duty travel appears to be the sweet spot for electric delivery vehicles. And it shows in the companies that are investing in electric transport. Last year, Ryder truck rental — a competitor for U-Haul — made its first order of electric vans from Los Angeles startup Chanje. And Tesla, Daimler, and Navistar International are scrambling for their share of the market. United Parcel Service will be the first commercial customer for Daimler’s new eCanter truck. Of course, electric delivery vehicles are old hat for FedEx, which launched its all-electric American fleet more than ten years ago. And FedEx had been using alternative energy vehicles abroad for some time before that.
Coca-Cola uses hybrids for delivery. In addition, they switched all of their service vans to hybrids in 2014. Another delivery company, DHL, a FedEx competitor, recently expanded its electric truck fleet. And the U.S. Post office, which has had electric vehicles in its fleet since 1899, uses a variety of alternative energy vehicles for deliveries.
The list goes on and on, but the trend is the same. Electric delivery vehicles have found their niche with medium distance, medium duty deliveries.
A Drone Delivery System?
- Image CC by 0 by Kimhyeri, via Pixabay.
Yes, drones are electric delivery vehicles, too!
A lot of people only think of vehicles as operating on land. However, the definition of ‘vehicle’ expands to almost anything that transports people or goods. And that includes drones. These unpiloted, battery operated vehicles are more than just a nifty toy. Drone delivery may be an expensive novelty now, but chances are that we’ll be seeing a lot more of it soon.
Amazon Prime Air is probably the most talked about proposed delivery drone program. They’re still working on it, but one day, Amazon hopes to be able to deliver goods to customers around the world in thirty minutes or less. Digital Trends has the lowdown on the history of Amazon Prime Air, and where it may be going.
But How Soon?
At this point, it looks like drone delivery system technology still has some catching up to do. As Flexpoint explains, the economics of delivery depends on two factors. First, the number of drop-offs a vehicle can make along a delivery route. Second, one has to consider the number of parcels the vehicle delivers per stop.
Lots of deliveries over a short period of time or distance makes for a low per-delivery cost. By the same token, if you drop off lots of parcels at the same location, the per-parcel cost will be low.
Right now, drones can make only one stop per delivery. In addition, they can only drop off one parcel at a time. But Amazon is a master innovator. Who knows what they may come up with to address these problems?
What About a Food Delivery Drone?
Pizza delivery sounds like a natural niche for drones. One destination and, most often, one parcel per destination. Domino’s delivered the first ever pizza by drone in New Zealand in 2016. (It only took five minutes!) Additional tests are planned for Australia, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Can Americans look forward to a food delivery drone service in the future? Business Insider says that regulatory problems are holding it back for now. But we can always hope.
Featured Image CC SA 3.0 by Mr. Choppers, via Wikimedia Commons.