Feasibility study of the electrification of the urban goods distribution transport system, part II
Based on the results from FFI project Feasibility study of the electrification of the urban goods distribution transport system (Vinnova reg. no. 2011-01803), this project aimed to investigate how urban goods distribution fleets can be electrified and how new logistics solutions and incentives can influence the transition in a positive way, considering the year 2015, 2020 and 2025.
The project is divided into five work packages (WP). The purpose of the first work package, WP1 Fleet Electrification Study, was to evaluate at what rate it is possible for urban goods distribution fleets to become electrified. WP2, Service Impact Evaluation, is a description of ICT services to support electric trucks for goods distribution in cities. The purpose of WP3, Comparative Fleet Electrification Case and Best Practice Investigation, was to compare the electrification case for TGM/Bäckebol in Gothenburg to a reference case in France and to the findings from research and demonstration projects within Europe. WP4, Method Description, package had two purposes. First, it aimed to broadly describe, from a project management perspective, how the project was executed. Second, it presents a review of the project based on the members’ views on how the project was conducted. Finally, WP5, Project Management, included the operative project management activities in the different work packages as well as administrative work such as financial reporting and communications on project progress and results.
The project results show that it is difficult for the EVs to compete in 2015 considering a replacement of the diesel trucks with all-electric trucks. However, in 2020 the switch to an EV produces a small profit. This positive outcome for the EV is repeated in 2025 over 8 years of operation. Comparing the results, the two shifts solution never did get financially competitive with the diesel vehicle used in one shift. The reason for this was that the cost of unsocial hours was greater than the benefit of increased utilization of the EVs. Keeping the amount of unsocial hours down, while maximizing the utilization rate of the EV is therefore paramount. In other cities than Gothenburg, where congestion causes severe delays, the efficiency gained by distributing goods off-hours might balance the higher salary costs.
The starting point in both the previous and in this project was the introduction of new technology to reduce the negative environmental impact of transports. As the project progressed it became clear that many parameters, other than strictly technological ones, influence the possibility to make a transition to electric distribution. One example, as described above, is the case of off-hour distribution, where the increased salary cost was too high to make the business case profitable. Another example is the limited range of electric vehicles. As the cost competitiveness of electric vehicles benefit greatly from specialization, the business relationship between the transport operator and the shippers becomes more important than in the case of a diesel vehicle. Long term assignments with well-defined transport routes are preferable to be able to use the vehicles long term and dare to take the higher investment cost.