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UPS Orders 50 Hybrid-Electric Vans, Delivery Drone Included

UPS will gallop ahead of the competition with its recent order of 50 custom-designed Workhorse hybrid-electric delivery vans, a serious win for the company’s sustainability goals using vehicles that are being hailed as cost-competitive—without subsidies.

UPS, which already runs the world’s largest fleet of alternative fuel vehicles, has spent the past year evaluating the suitability of the Workhorse delivery van. That process “included tests of the Horsefly autonomous delivery drone that nestles in the top of a van and is used to deliver packages to remote locations while the truck continues along its route,” CleanTechnica reports. “The 50 electric trucks from Workhorse will join the more than 300 electric vehicles in the UPS fleet in the U.S. and Europe, together with another 700 hybrids currently in service.”

Delivering by day and recharging overnight, the Workhorse vans “will be a quantum leap forward for the purpose-built UPS delivery fleet,” said Carlton Rose, the company’s president of global fleet maintenance and engineering.

Not only are the new-model vehicles up to four times more efficient than the diesel vans they replace, with significantly lower tailpipe emissions, CleanTechnica notes. They also have “comparable acquisition costs to conventional vehicles, without subsidies.”

“Our goal is to make it easy for UPS and others to go electric by removing prior roadblocks to large-scale acceptance, such as cost,” said Workhorse CEO Steve Burns. CleanTechnica says the custom-designed vans for UPS also feature “a cab forward design that leaves more room for cargo, reduces the weight of the vehicle, and optimizes the driving environment for the operator.” They’ll have a range of about 100 miles (160 kilometres) for urban deliveries.

With a view to making electric vehicles “a standard selection in most cases in the future” for its world-wide fleet of 35,000 vehicles, UPS will spend 2018 test-driving the new vans in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Atlanta, with plans to deploy many more in 2019.