DPD will share its all-electric micro hub concept at Fuels in Action

DPD UK has opened its first all-electric last-mile delivery depot in Westminster, London today (17 October).

The 5,000ft² Westminster site, which can handle 2,000 parcels per day, is the first of eight all-electric depots planned across the capital. The next will open in Shoreditch next month and DPD is searching for sites in Bayswater, Covent Garden, South Kensington, Marylebone, Barbican and Bank.

"We have nine large depots in London and will never get another so we need to focus on micro depots like this," said DPD UK CEO Dwain McDonald. "We are now committed to the first all-electric urban delivery network throughout London."

It cost £500,000 to refurbish the facility, which included a new charging system for DPD’s fleet of electric vehicles based at the site.

Three types of electric vehicle will be used at the site: Mitsubishi Fuso eCanters, Nissan eNV200s and Paxsters.

DPD Fuso

Two 7.5-tonners eCanters, with 82kWh batteries capable of travelling up to 85 miles between each charge, will be used to trunk parcels to the depot each day from the London City depot.

Final mile deliveries will carried out by seven Nissan eNV200 all-electric vans, capable of making 120 stops per day on one charge, as well as eight Norwegian-built Paxsters.

The latter is a micro-vehicle with a 1cu m, 200kg load capacity and a 9.2kWh battery pack that will be used to deliver goods in the immediate vicinity of the depot. It is expected to operate 60 stops on one charge per day and DPD has a further 23 Paxsters on order. The Paxsters will be charged at the Westminster depots using eight 16A Type 2 battery chargers as the drivers will not be able to take them home at night and will be maintained on contract by a fork-lift truck specialist.

McDonald lambasted the major van manufacturers for their "lethargy" in coming up with a "mass-produced" electric 3.5 tonner. "The vehicle manufacturers are being too slow," he said at the Westminster opening. ""The 3.5 tonne van is the workhorse for DPD and I buy 1,000 a Sprinters a year."

DPD Paxster

At the new depot, DPD said it has moved away from its traditional hub-and-spoke delivery model. Instead of delivering parcels to the last-mile depot from a central hub, they will be sent from the hub, handled at DPD’s London City depot and sorted for final delivery from the Westminster location.

Using all-electric vehicles in both the inward feed of parcels to DPD Westminster, and the final delivery to customers, DPD expects to see an initial reduction of 45 tonnes of CO2 per annum.

It said this will increase as more all-electric vehicles and depots are introduced into the DPD's network.

But McDonald also criticised the lack of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in London. "We have 1,800 vans in London and 90% of those are run by owner-driver franchisees," he said. "I can't charge of all those overnight at my depots but if the drivers live in high rise apartments they can't charge them at home either."

The site will also be home to the first DPD-owned Pickup Shop, with a dedicated access point for consumers collecting parcels from the site.

A total spend of around £3m on the DPD Westminster depot over the next 10 years is expected, while the site for its second all-electric London depot in Shoreditch has already been secured.

DPD said its electric depot network will help prepare the business for the introduction of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone in April next year, as well as help its strategic objective to become “the most responsible city centre delivery company in Europe”.

McDonald said: "We want to be the leader in alternative fuel vehicles in the UK, with the ultimate aim being to move to a zero-emission fleet.

"Westminster is clearly the first step towards that goal and will be instrumental in developing our future EV proposition and strategy. DPD Westminster is an outstanding location and the vehicles are fantastic.

"We looked at a wide range of options before making our decision and we've been testing these three models extensively in recent months. In terms of reliability and performance they have been excellent.

"Online retail is growing at 20% a year in London and there are still significant property, changing and vehicle challenges to be overcome to support an all-electric fleet on the scale we need, across the whole of central London.

"But I'm delighted with our proposition here and we will continue to work with the key stakeholders to realise our aims and support the Mayor of London and TfL's ambition for a cleaner and less congested capital."

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