Electric LCVs and HGVs in urban logistics

With urban development continuing to grow and intensify (60% of all human beings will live in towns by 2030, meaning tomorrow), it is worth taking time to consider the changes afoot in last-mile logistics, which account for approximately 20% of city traffic, occupy 30% of road space and whose combustion engines happen to generate 35% of greenhouse gas emissions.

City centre deliveries are a fundamental challenge for retailers, industrial firms, manufacturers, consumers… and most of all, carriers!

Trade associations representing transport companies are very familiar with city centre deliveries and are putting forward solutions to help the profession  evolve. At the forefront is the FNTR, which points out that 99% of the population’s daily  requirements are conveyed by road.

And yet urban logistics flows are clearly affected by changing social, community, consumer-related and economic factors, notwithstanding how cities are being transformed, increasingly prohibiting vehicles in favour of ‘green mobility’. 
By increasingly barring access to 3.5 and 7-tonne vehicles, local authorities are indirectly calling time on HGV deliveries in city centres. When you consider that a three-axle semi-trailer carries as many goods as up to 34 LCVs, you might be forgiven for wondering whether they have lost sight of the initial goal to reduce emissions. Furthermore, the job of deliverers is becoming more complicated every day due to the many initiatives taken in large urban centres to reduce the number of vehicles on their roads. They have to muddle through as best they can. 

The FNTR also asks for public action on vehicles and powertrains by making local authorities align their timelines for the interdiction of diesel with the effective deployment of a CNG supply network and a sufficient and weightvaried offering from manufacturers. But in order to support the replacement of the fleet currently in operation, consideration should also be given to raising the level (amount and eligibility) of local aids and tax incentives for the purchase of low-emission vehicles, whilst simplifying legislation relating to logistical urban development.

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On the background deep transformation in society, automotive manufacturers are setting out their stall. Renault is aiming for pole position in the development of a complete LCV range, a highly ambitious strategy that the brand recently unveiled. As Denis Le Vot, the Alliance SVP for the Renault-Nissan LCV business unit, forcefully repeats, “The growth in home deliveries, while access to city centres is restricted, will change the market. I can today reveal that the whole range, with the exception of pickups, will become electric between now and 2022.”

Other developments are underway at Renault, which is continuing its exploratory work on the mobility of tomorrow for professionals. Following on from the EZ-PRO concept car unveiled at the end of 2018, embodying a vision of the future of city centre deliveries in 2030, behold the EZ-FLEX. The concept is presented as an innovative experiment to manage daily urban deliveries using a compact electric van capable of manoeuvring seamlessly through cities. Finally, Renault has extended its range of electric vans, today made up of four vehicles, following the arrival of the Master Z.E. last year.