DPD eVito (26)

DPD has committed to open a network of eight all-electric micro depots across London as part of the charter of commitments contained within the delivery plan.

DPD is to operate the UK’s first eVitos from Mercedes-Benz Vans, which will be used across its London delivery operation.

The parcels firm has ordered 10 long-bodied 3.2-tonne versions of the mid-sized all-electric van, which will all join the fleet by the end of the May or early June at the latest.

DPD opened the first of eight planned micro depots in the capital late last year in Westminster, followed by all-electric operations at Shoreditch and Hyde Park. A national rollout of a further 100 electric delivery vehicles is also planned to commence later this year.

The London micro hubs use a variety of electric vehicles including Mitsubishi Fuso eCanters, Nissan eNV200s and Paxsters.

However at the Westminster hub's launch event, DPD UK CEO Dwain McDonald urged manufacturers to step up to challenge of providing larger, 3.5-tonne "workhorse" vans with more carrying capacity needed to suit its operation, so the eVito is a significant step towards this requirement.

“We envisage a major role for the Mercedes-Benz eVito in towns and cities nationwide,” said Dave Winchcombe, head of transport at DPD UK. “It is larger than other currently available electric vans, and is therefore better suited to DPD’s business model, yet still offers the environmental compatibility which is essential to our strategy.”

DPD’s 3.2-tonne, long-wheelbase eVito models provide a 6m³ cargo area and a payload allowance of 1,043kg. The is also available in extra-long form, with 6.6m³ load volume and 1,073 kg maximum carrying capacity.

The company will be working with Mercedes-Benz Vans to provide specific driver training for the new vehicle and focusing on which routes will be the best fit for the technology.

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Rob Fowler, DPD UK’s general manager – corporate social responsibility & general planning, added: “Reducing and neutralising our carbon footprint by providing smarter and more efficient urban delivery solutions, and investing in innovation, are at the heart of DPD’s DrivingChange programme.

“We want to be the leader in alternative fuel vehicles in the UK, and the Mercedes-Benz eVito, like the larger eSprinter which we also look forward to seeing, is integral to our EV strategy.”

The eSprinter is scheduled to make its UK debut towards the end of this year, with full production due to commence next spring.

DPD has also recently announced it has been collaborating with an Oxford-based start-up, Electric Assisted Vehicles, to develop a new eCargo bike called the P1.

Dwain McDonald, DPD CEO, said: "It is an exciting time. The all-electric micro-depots have exceeded our expectations and we'll soon have eight such sites in London. We've got plans to add over 100 more EVs to our fleet in 2019 as we begin our roll-out across the UK. We will double that in 2020, and double it again in 2021 to over 550 electric vehicles.

"Effectively, we're already in a position to grow as fast as the manufacturers can supply the vehicles, so the more UK vehicles that are available, the faster the roll-out will be. In the meantime, we are continuing to explore all opportunities to reduce and neutralise our carbon footprint and provide smarter and more efficient urban delivery solutions."

The company is not the first to run electric-powered Vitos though. Travis Perkins has had two of the latest model's predecessors on fleet since 2015.

Andrew Hollingsworth, fleet technical manager at the firm, said the Vito E-Cells have been working on a Edinburgh City Council contract delivering housing maintenance goods direct to site for the city council's own housing stock maintenance contractors.

He added that the firm had found the all electric units cost effective - they were taken on a four year lease - and are keen to try the eVitos, although to date have been unable to establish cost or availability beyond some time this year.