An Post and Austrian Post tackling last-mile deliveries to reduce emissions

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By embracing electric vehicles (EVs) across their fleet, the two postal delivery companies are sending a clear message: businesses are ready for mass EV rollout

An Post and Austrian Post are members of EV100 – a global initiative run by the Climate Group, with 121 member companies. Both have committed to electrifying their light-duty road transport fleets by 2030.

As competition to deliver the quickest and cheapest services intensifies, innovative companies working to revolutionize their approach to last-mile deliveries stand to enjoy an advantage. EVs are an essential part of this transformation, as EV100 members An Post and Austrian Post are demonstrating.

The future of last-mile deliveries is electric

According to the World Economic Forum, last-mile deliveries account for 53% of the total cost of shipping, making them the most expensive part of the delivery process. High maintenance costs associated with running internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, coupled with frequent stops that limit efficiency, both contribute, and this is especially true in cities where traffic congestion poses further interruptions to journey time.

Although the upfront costs for electric commercial cars and vans are still high, advances in technology mean that cost parity with ICE vehicles is getting closer all the time. EVs have on average 20 moving parts compared with the 2,000 parts in an ICE vehicle, which makes EVs up to 70% cheaper to maintain.

How An Post is enhancing efficiency in the last mile

An Post operates over 1,000 EVs, including Ireland’s first 7.5 tonne electric trucks. The post plans to continue the electrification of its fleet in line with EV100 commitments. An Post was the first postal service provider in the world to achieve zero carbon emission delivery status in a capital city (Dublin). In 2021, it achieved zero-emission deliveries of letters and parcels to all Irish cities, making it the first postal service provider with zero-emission deliveries in all its major cities.

In September 2021, An Post began a trial of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) fuel, which is over 90% less CO2 intensive than fossil diesel. An Post is one of the first companies with a fleet of vehicles in Ireland to implement HVO as part of its fueling options. Since September, its trucks have traveled over 120,000km on HVO, averaging 25 liters per 100km. The use of HVO in the trial has resulted in a 92% reduction in carbon emissions.

Project Senator is an international collaboration project between several partners including An Post, being tested in both Dublin, Ireland, and Zaragoza, Spain, which uses real-time information and AI to integrate urban freight logistics in one network. EVs are central to the success of the project.

An Post’s various other sustainability initiatives, including using second-life batteries and trialing photovoltaic panels (PV) in buildings, coupled with its EV transition, have led to a 23% fall in carbon emissions since 2009. With over 1,300 electric charge points, An Post operates the largest charging network in Ireland and is now developing improved charging systems that maximize the use of night-time charging rates and cut costs even more.

How Austrian Post is enhancing efficiency in the last mile

Austrian Post already operates the largest EV fleet across Austria and will switch its entire fleet of more than 8,500 vehicles to electric by 2030.

The post is also reducing last-mile emissions by powering its vehicles using renewable energy, making its fleet truly zero emission. With Austrian Post developing the largest photovoltaic operations in Austria (with six photovoltaic plants installed and five more under development in 2021), it is demonstrating how the in-use emissions of EVs will continue to reduce as grids decarbonize.

The business case for adopting EVs has never been stronger. Since converting its fleet, Austrian Post has seen a 50% reduction in overall maintenance costs. Right-sizing the delivery option is another route to increase efficiency. Austrian Post’s City Hub pilot project is trialling the use of e-bikes to collect deliveries from post boxes within city centers as a more flexible and nimble option to navigate dense city traffic. If successful, not only will e-bikes save time and money in fuel costs and congestion time but this project will contribute to the goal of achieving CO2 -free deliveries throughout the city of Graz. “The idea is to generally convert all of the inner-city logistics to such models. Not only for Graz, but also for other metropolitan areas in Austria,” says Peter Umundum, an Austrian Post board member.

Companies are investing but need more support

Although An Post and Austrian Post are leading the way, both companies still face challenges to achieve 100% EV adoption by 2030. One key barrier is that vans still have a limited range, which is a particular concern in winter. Opening and closing doors demands more energy for heating and, when coupled with the constant stop-starts, can lead to a 25% margin of error between advertised and actual ranges of An Post’s fleets. Additional barriers cited by the post include driver training, expanding secure space for charging infrastructure, and the cost and availability of EV procurement. Our EV100 survey data suggests that the barriers to adoption experienced by An Post and Austrian Post aren’t unique to the delivery sector – these same concerns are felt widely across EV100 membership, signaling the need for better access to a broader choice of vehicles.

Governments are increasingly recognizing the central role of business fleets in driving the switch to EVs and reducing CO2 emissions as well as dangerous air pollution in city centers. They need to bring in policies that address the remaining barriers. For example, installing fast chargers along major roads to support long-distance journeys, and cutting red tape to encourage charging installations in leased premises, are two measures that would help businesses that want to lead in the climate space deliver on their ambitions around zero-emission transport.

Clear targets and regulatory direction provide incentives for manufacturers to increase the variety and availability of electric solutions in the commercial segments. Both Ireland and Austria have set clear targets to phase out ICE vehicles by 2030, and the achievements of An Post and Austria Post highlight how government ambition enables such leadership.

Governments need to introduce or extend EV incentives to help businesses plan their investments, and to support viable business models to remove charging restrictions. Until it is cheaper to purchase EVs than ICE vehicles, businesses need support to make the switch. Charging subsidies are also helpful for businesses coping with the added costs of installation where grid upgrades are also required.

We will continue to inspire action

There is growing recognition from businesses and policymakers that electric transportation needs to form a major pillar of emission reduction efforts if we are to limit global warming to no more than 1.5°C. As members of EV100, both An Post and Austrian Post are underlining their corporate leadership credentials in the climate space, and their efforts show that companies can optimize their last-mile deliveries sustainably right now.

Together, alongside other EV100 members, we’ll continue to engage with policymakers to set a clear and supportive policy agenda so businesses can invest in EVs with confidence. Greater investment today means widespread adoption will be easier in the future, and we urge all fleet operating businesses to join EV100 and help lead the transition to zero-emission transport. Together, we will drive a more accessible and affordable rollout of EVs for everyone.

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About Author

Sandra Roling leads the Climate Group’s transport systems strategy, in particular driving the rapid transition to electric vehicles among businesses as well as governments. This work includes EV100, the Climate Group’s corporate leadership initiative bringing together over 100 major international companies committed to accelerating the switch to electric transport and making it ‘the new normal’ by 2030.

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