Last-mile logistics: It’s all about the mix

A fleet mix of electric cargo bikes and electric vans can save significant costs compared to a pure e-van fleet and improve the general quality of life in cities. A study by EIT InnoEnergy, a leading innovation driver for sustainable energy supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an institution of the European Union (EU), has examined the use of mixed electric fleets in terms of their impact on costs and sustainability. The study shows that a fleet mix of electric cargo bikes and electric vans can save significant costs compared to a pure e-van fleet and improve the general quality of life in cities.

According to the study, a large logistics company that delivers two billion packages worldwide each year could save around 554 million euros in costs from 2030 with a mixed fleet of 80% e-cargo bikes and 20% e-vans compared to a pure e-van fleet – per year! At the same time, such mixed fleets can reduce CO2 emissions on the last mile by up to 80%.

Against the backdrop of a sustained boom in the European e-commerce sector with annual growth rates of 8-14%, logistics companies must simultaneously improve their profit margins and reduce their CO2 emissions. Regulations such as the impending Stockholm inner-city ban on vehicles with combustion engines are creating additional pressure. The study thus helps to close an existing knowledge gap on the potential impact of electric cargo bikes in urban logistics. The study draws clear comparisons between pure combustion engine fleets, pure e-van fleets and mixed e-fleets.

“Logistics service providers are faced with many challenges at the same time: increasing parcel volumes, stricter regulations and the need to reduce costs in a low-margin business,” says Jennifer Dungs, Global Head of Mobility at EIT InnoEnergy. “The study shows that e-cargo bikes are not only a sustainable solution to meet these challenges, but also a competitive and profitable option for large logistics companies – today and even more so by 2030.”

The results show that the use of e-cargo bikes reduces the total cost per parcel compared to e-vans, regardless of the fleet mix and city type. In the study’s reference case, which assumes a delivery fleet consisting of 60% e-cargo bikes and 40% e-vans in a large and densely populated city, the total cost per parcel in 2023 is €0.05 lower than for a pure e-van fleet (€1.36 instead of €1.41). By 2030, this difference per parcel would increase to €0.20 per parcel. For a large logistics company, with two billion parcels delivered annually last year, this would correspond to a saving of around €95 million. In 2030, it would already be around 390 million euros.

In an optimized scenario (80% e-cargo bikes and 20% e-vans in a medium-sized city), the savings would be even greater: €0.08 or 5.3% lower costs per parcel would have added up to a total annual saving of around €156 million for a large logistics service provider in 2023. This cost difference per parcel would increase to €0.28 or 17.0% by 2030. This corresponds to an annual cost saving of around €554 million.

Savings despite new cost factors

It should be emphasized that these total savings are achieved despite new cost factors that arise from the use of mixed electric fleets. First and foremost, these are additional costs due to additional staff for parcel sorting in micro-fulfillment centers and more delivery drivers. In addition to the financial effects mentioned, the impact on the quality of life in cities would also be enormous. For example, CO2 emissions for last-mile logistics in the 100 largest European cities could be reduced by up to 80%. The elimination of around 120,000 (e-)vans would also create new usable space and avoid traffic jams. The study also shows that mixed fleets relieve the burden on local power grids and reduce energy consumption per city. This reduction would correspond to the energy consumption of up to 850 average households.

Jennifer Dungs adds: “Cities and logistics providers should have a great mutual interest in fully exploiting the potential of mixed e-delivery fleets, for example in the context of public-private partnerships. This study is intended to provide decision-makers in Europe with important guidance on how to make last-mile logistics more efficient and sustainable.”

You can read this and other articles on the subject of electromobility and autonomous driving in the current issue of the eMove360° magazine. Order the print version in the shop or download the PDF for free.

19.06.2024   |  

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