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UK launch for Fuso eCanter

Participation in urban logistics will increasingly depend on adoption of alternative fuel trucks

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The Daimler Fuso e-Canter is claimed to be the first all-electric 7.5 tonner (4.5t payload) in series production worldwide. Following its introduction in Japan (Daimler is the majority owner of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corporation), the US and Germany, the first 10 units are being delivered to four customers in the UK, through Mercedes-Benz Trucks UK.

These are logistics company Wincanton (five), flour miller Hovis (two), parcels firm DPD (two), with the other truck going to a client that requested anonymity.

The business model is based on total life costs under 2-year unlimited mileage leasing contracts. The trucks are the first to be included in the plug-in grant scheme originally introduced for e-cars and e-vans. They have a 100 kms range at 7.5t all-up before recharging is needed. The duties of light trucks mean that they typically cover less that 100 kms/day, so effectively they have one day’s autonomy. According to Mercedes Benz, customers will be able to reduce their operating costs by €1000 for every 10,000 kms travelled, compared to diesel.

In the UK, DPD operates 2,340 vehicles. Speaking to worldcargonews online at the London launch, a spokesman said that DPD sees the e-truck as the link between main depots served by trunk haul HGVs and small depots from where parcels are distributed by e-vans and e-bikes. The company is also looking at CNG/LNG as alternatives for trunk haul HGVs, but there is a 20% price premium compared to diesel. DPD does not use rail for trunk haul in the UK.

Wincanton is one of the UK’s biggest logistic companies and operates 3,600 vehicles from more than 200 depots nationwide. Major accounts include Sainsbury’s and Ikea – shippers that are increasingly looking for greener distribution. Wincanton is taking five Fuso eCanter trucks as part of its drive to develop a UK-wide road transport and distribution system.

For the London market, Wincanton has two strategically-located main depots, but in some parts of the country space for cross-docking is an issue. Nick Eades, chief marketing officer, said that the company is working with developers that specialise in mixed-use developments. Many experts believe these will become the norm in urban and suburban areas, as they make more effective use of the land.

In May last year MFTBC announced that the first customer for the new e-truck in Japan is Seven-Eleven Co, Ltd, which is taking 25 units into its fleet. Fuso e-Canter trucks for the European and US markets are built by MFTBC in Tramagal in Portugal. Large-scale production should begin in 2019.

FUSO eCanter trucks in (from L) DPD, Hovis and Wincanton livery
FUSO eCanter trucks in (from L) DPD, Hovis and Wincanton livery

In another UK urban logistics development, in February transport minister Jo Johnson announced that Cambridge University spin-off 42 Technology Ltd had been awarded almost £350,000 by Innovate UK to help commercialise its Adaptable Carriage train passenger seat mounting system.

 

As previously reported (WorldCargo News, October 2015, 35), the design enables the seats and tables within passenger trains to be automatically folded and stowed to create space to carry freight on off-peak services.

 

The Innovate UK funding - awarded as part of its ‘First of a Kind: Demonstrating Tomorrow’s Trains Today’ scheme - will enable 42 Technology to install its technology into a train carriage for the first time as part of a project expected to take 10 months. If tests are successful, Adaptable Carriage can then be piloted under the Flexible Freight programme being promoted by the UK rail industry’s Technical Strategy Leadership Group.

 

Intercity Rail Freight Ltd (formerly known as 5PL Ltd) has been using GWR and East Midland Trains offpeak passenger train services to move freight to London for more than six years, working with WEGO Couriers to distribute the goods by e-vans and e-bikes from Paddington and Euston. Fresh-landed Cornish fish, for example, is on the plate the same evening.

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