Abstract: Not just a truck – rethinking the last mile delivery business

The explosion of e-commerce is causing consumers to expect goods to be delivered quickly and cheaply wherever they live. However, a recent survey of 71% retailers said the cost of appeasing customers is too high, especially in the “last mile” where the goods are actually placed in the consumers’ hands. Appeasing customer demand requires a dramatic revamp of the last mile delivery industry. Electric vehicles, used in new ways, can help to address the rising economic and environmental costs associated with the last mile. However, balancing fleets’ needs to achieve a reasonable total cost of ownership is a complex equation. It will require a new last mile ecosystem that is deeply rooted in energy services and logistics. Customer delivery expectations will be supported by new technologies that are based on an electric vehicle but also go beyond the truck. The ecosystem will offer data and route management that is connected to a more developed charging infrastructure. New software solutions will be developed, and even new approaches to how energy is purchased and used. New types of EVs will be added to the product mix, such as those using hydrogen fuel cell technology to increase range. A new model of manufacturing is needed, one that is asset-lean and creates vehicles that can be customized for specific delivery purposes. We will explore these innovative ideas and how they could propel the EV market, bringing about mass electrification in the commercial sector before passenger cars.

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