UPS is boosting the number of electric vehicles it runs from its central London depot from 65 to 170, after installing technology that marks the beginning of the end for the combustion engine.

The new smart grid charging technology, which the company developed in collaboration with UK Power Networks and Cross River Partnership, removes the need for an expensive upgrade to the power supply grid in order to simultaneously recharge an entire fleet of electric vehicles.

Hailing the deployment as a “world-first”, Peter Harris, director of sustainability, UPS Europe said: “We are using new technology to work around some big obstacles to electric vehicle deployment, heralding a new generation of sustainable urban delivery services both here in London and in other major cities around the world.”

He added that the technology marks a major turning point in the cost effective deployment of electric vehicles.

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Ian Smyth, director of UK Power Networks Services, said the new technology would pave the way for future electrification of urban delivery vehicles.

“This project will deliver a huge impact on improving the air quality for Londoners and contribute to UPS’s legacy of sustainability,” he added.

Tanja Dalle-Muenchmeyer, Cross River Partnership electric freight programme manager said the smartgrid charging technology removed a major barrier to electric vehicle charging.

“Our previous work on electric freight vehicles has shown that local grid infrastructure constraints are one of the main barriers to their large-scale uptake. We need to find smarter solutions to electric vehicle charging if we want to benefit from the significant air quality and environmental benefits these vehicles offer, and we believe this is such a solution.”