UK engineering firm Penso has delivered its first Blue Ocean home delivery pods, with launch customer Asda taking an initial order for 25 units.

Manufactured from a blend of carbon fibre and recycled plastic, the triple-compartment ultra-lightweight pods are said to be able to transport approximately the same weight of goods in two journeys that a traditional vehicle carries in three. This drastically reduces road miles and fuel costs, cuts CO2 and NOx emissions and means more drops can be completed per load, helping to meet increased customer demand.

Simon Gregg, Asda’s vice president of online grocery home shopping, said: “I’m really excited to launch this fleet of innovative and sustainable grocery home shopping vans which will make a real difference to cutting our carbon footprint.

“As a business, we are constantly looking at ways we can reduce our carbon emissions, not just because we know that sustainability is important to our customers and colleagues, but because all of us have a responsibility, and it’s just the right thing to do, making improvements wherever we can.”

Penso MD Daniel Hurcombe said: “Retailers and logistics operators are under huge pressure to increase delivery slots, at the same time as reducing their carbon footprint and improving efficiency. What we’ve done at Penso is create a solution which delivers tangible benefits in all of these areas, using every ounce of our experience in light-weighting projects for the aerospace, rail and automotive sectors.”

Key to the near-400kg increase in payload capacity is Penso’s composite sandwich panel technology, which features 5,000 recycled plastic bottles in the structural core of every pod. Each closed cell foam sandwich panel is then wrapped with carbon fibre to prevent long-term water ingress – and backed by a 10-year structural warranty.

Penso is manufacturing the pods on a new flexible automated robot assembly line at its Coventry headquarters. The site is designed to build up to 10,000 dry freight and temperature controlled pods each year, with production to ramp up steadily over the next five years.

The new Asda fleet has been supplied on a 3.5-tonne medium wheelbase, front-wheel-drive, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. They have initially been deployed in areas where drivers face increased mileage to reach customers in more remeote areas, such as parts of the east coast of England.

Penso’s pods are compatible with diesel, electric and hybrid models – ensuring the design is future-proofed and can be easily transferred onto next-generation vehicles.