During Wired magazine’s 2016 conference in London, automotive technology company Charge unveiled a self-driving, electric delivery van that can be built in four hours. Charge, which has since changed its name to Arrival, said we could see the vans on the street as early as 2017. Last week, Royal Mail became the first to announce it will conduct trials for the vans.
Royal Mail is trialing nine of the vehicles to transport packages between mail and distribution centers in London. According to Paul Gatti, Royal Mail Fleet’s Managing Director, U.K. primary’s postal service has trialed electric trucks before, “but not of this type.” He says Royal Mail look forwards to see what additional benefits they can bring to its existing fleet.
Arrival hopes that the trial will help Royal Mail achieve efficiency, and reduce vehicle emissions. The vehicles are built using ultra-lightweight composite materials that Arrival says significantly reduce the weight of the vehicle.
Arrival adds that by combining composites with Charge’s custom built hardware, including power electronics and motors, it has been able to reduce operating costs by more than 50 percent. The company believes that in an industry driven by price and weight, innovations like these will help transform the highly complex logistics sector.
According to U.K. media outlet Daily Mail, the trucks also feature batteries that are optimized for inner city deliveries, and allow the vehicles to produce zero emissions for up to 100 miles. They also comply with the Mayor of London’s Direct Vision Standard for lorries in the city making the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
“We find trucks today totally unacceptable,” said Denis Sverdlov, CEO of Arrival. “At [Arrival] we are making trucks the way they should be – affordable, elegant, quiet, clean and safe. We are removing all the barriers to entry for electric vehicles by pricing them in line with conventional trucks, giving every fleet manager, tradesman or company, no matter how big or small, the opportunity to change the way they transport goods and make our towns and cities better places to live in.”