Reducing carbon emissions from fast-growing final-mile e-commerce deliveries isn't just about switching to low emissions vehicles, as the Freight in the City Expo heard recently.

Spanish start up Kiwi Last Mile was formed two years ago to develop a new route model that uses vans as mobile warehouses rather than delivery vehicles and so makes them far more productive.

Founder Alex Tortras explained that research had shown that delivery vans were parked for as much as 70% of the working day and as e-commerce grew 20% each year worsening congestion was making delivery drivers less and less productive.

The Kiwi solution is to have vans loaded with shipments – which could be parcels, groceries or any other product – meet up with couriers or “porters” who were on foot, bicycles or cargo bikes to make the final delivery.

“The system allows you to make twice as many deliveries with the same number of vans,” said Tortras. “Parking time is reduced by 90% and emissions are reduced by 50%.”

The platform is now available for any delivery service to use, linking traditional van fleet operators with a pool of porters.

Reducing the environmental impact of refuse collection vehicles can involve replacing diesel vehicles with electric - or the recycling of end-of-life RCVs into full electric vehicles rather than scrap and replace them.

This concept has been proven by a four-vehicle trial run by a consortium including Veolia, Sheffield City Council, Magtec and Microlise and funded by Innovate.

Four obsolete diesel RCVs were repowered to battery electric and fully refurbished to as-new condition by Dennis Eagle using complete power packs built by Magtec. Veolia is running two of the vehicles in Sheffield and two in Westminster.

The 300kWh power packs are built on a “raft” by Magtec so they can be quickly and easily installed by the vehicle builder as a plug and play unit. The batteries are recharged using 50kW chargers powered by energy from waste plants and last for two seven-hour shifts before needing recharging, even with a fully electric bin lift. The repowered 26-tonne vehicles weigh 385kg less than before and require far less maintenance.

“We make the motors, gearboxes and controllers at the moment,” said Magtec MD Andrew Gilligan. “We are looking for partners as we build up volumes to over 3,000 units a year. I also want to partner with OEMs so they can install the kit themselves.”

A more futuristic vision of EVs was presented by Volvo in the form of VERA, its fully-autonomous battery electric tractor unit, on show in the UK for the first time. Volvo Trucks UK and Ireland MD Robert Grozdanovski was however quick to point out that Volvo would always “put the driver at the centre of everything we do” and explained that VERA was aimed squarely at “repetitive transport environments” such as container terminal shunting or running between a logistics centre and a nearby port.

“VERA will go into full scale operation next year and will help us develop this technology further,” he said. “They will run in networks connected via the cloud.”

Amid all the talk of EVs, Calor GB reminded delegates there are still plenty of opportunities to reduce carbon emissions using biogas.

Matt Masters, Calor GB innovation manager, said the company's stated aim was to supply 100% renewable fuel to its customers by 2040, starting with the launch of bioLPG in the UK two years ago.

It is now developing a bioLNG offer which will cut CO2 emissions by 80% compared with conventional LNG.

To prove the viability of biogas, Calor showed at FiTC a prototype EMOSS truck (pictured) it uses to deliver gas bottles. This is a range-extended battery electric vehicle that uses an ICE powered by bioLPG to recharge the batteries.

“The EMOSS solution will be deployed in our fleet,” stated Masters.


The 16-tonne EMOSS has a 73kWh battery pack that is capped at 60kWh giving a 40-mile range on battery power and a Euro-6 2-litre LPG engine that cuts in automatically when the batteries reach 40% capacity. “Even if the engine runs inside a city centre it is not a problem,” said Masters. “We can also adjust the battery capacity to increase the zero emissions range.”

It can also be plugged in to top up the batteries from mains electricity overnight to maximise all-electric mileage.

Masters said it was delivering a 40% saving on CO2 emissions compared with a conventional diesel vehicle and it would pay back the upfront cost four and a half years into its seven-year life.