Purolator announced this week that it is launching fully electric curbside-delivery trucks in Vancouver — the first to be launched nationally by a Canadian courier company.
The new 18-foot electric delivery trucks and electric cargo bikes (e-bikes) expand Purolator’s fleet of innovative eco-friendly vehicles already in use on the streets of Montreal and Toronto, it said.
Purolator’s new electric delivery vehicles are built on Ford’s F-59 platform and electrified by Motiv Power Systems. Motiv’s Electric Power Intelligent Chassis (EPIC) is a market-leading platform for delivery vans. Purolator’s deployment of this technology marks Motiv’s first collaboration with a company in Canada.
Like many courier companies, Purolator has seen its residential deliveries soar by about 50 percent in the past year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as demand for transportation and courier services continues to grow.
The company said the use of electric vehicles will cut down on noise and pollution and the new vehicles will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 24 metric tons per year (per vehicle).
“At Purolator, we’re committed to adapting intelligently and providing sustainable solutions for the unique challenges of urban growth, the rise of e-commerce and unprecedented volumes of home deliveries,” said John Ferguson, President and CEO of Purolator. “Transforming our infrastructure and fleet is a key focus area of our growth and innovation strategy, and the cornerstone of our commitment to reduce our environmental footprint.”
Paul Merrick, General Manager, Western Canada for Purolator, said the Vancouver market will start with five electric trucks and an additional four of the low-speed electric cargo bikes.
“The electric cargo bikes are a pretty neat solution for us. We’re still working through the best application. Currently we’re running five in Montreal. We call them e-bikes. Basically they are electric-assisted pedal bikes. Almost like a tricycle. Single front wheel, two wheels at the back and a removable cargo container sits on the back and the courier pedals with electric assist and completes the delivery from a small removable container that sits on the back. The neat thing about those is you can load multiple containers so because they’re obviously a much smaller cube capacity, you can break it down into three containers — load one, courier does deliver, comes back, loads another one, and can complete more deliveries,” said Merrick.
He said the company has been working with the latest technology for some time now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The company has 315 hybrid vehicles in the fleet.
“We’ve also been working with an electric option for some time. We’ve had an electric vehicle we’ve been working with for many years now and just sort of learning from. It’s just the natural evolution in the technology. As the technology evolves it just becomes more practical for us to deploy the solution,” said Merrick.
“It will be something we continue to work with and continue to electrify wherever it’s possible and reduce greenhouse emissions.”
Merrick said ecommerce was already, prior to COVID, on a fairly significant growth trajectory. What COVID did was accelerate that.
“We were already involved in and embracing and continuing to adjust to high residential demand driven by ecommerce and now you’ve got this significant growth. That aligns with the desire to be more environmentally responsible as a company but also to work with cities that are demanding that of service providers,” said Merrick.
“You’ve got the mutual benefit of reduced congestion, noise and air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions. Then you’ve got this kind of market change, consumer change, where certain technologies and certain solutions become more practical with the ability to deploy them and they’re available. They also make better sense. The opportunity to deploy them with multiple benefits across multiple stakeholders you get this alignment that makes sense.”
Motiv Power System was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area. It describes itself as a sustainable technology company delivering electric truck and bus chassis and related charging infrastructure. Motiv’s proprietary and California Air Resource Board (CARB)-certified electric vehicle (EV) technology operates at over 98 percent uptime today and uses high-performance BMW batteries for many configurations, including step vans, box trucks, work trucks, shuttle buses, school buses, trolleys, and more. Motiv has delivered 120 vehicles that have travelled more than one million miles across North America.
The company says its solutions not only offer fleets up to 85 percent operation and maintenance cost savings, but also provide operators with a healthier and more comfortable driving experience without polluting the communities they serve.
“The introduction of all-electric vehicles into Purolator’s fleet is a critical step in reducing their GHG emissions and helps to advance our mission of freeing fleets from fossil fuels,” said Matt O’Leary, Chairman and CEO of Motiv. “We applaud the organization’s commitment to implementing innovative and sustainable technologies and look forward to working alongside them to modernize their fleet and delivery solutions throughout Canada.”
The use of non-standard vehicles in the supply chain network is becoming increasingly more popular including autonomous vehicles.
Recently, Retail Insider reported that Gatik, an autonomous technology company deploying autonomous vehicles for B2B middle mile logistics, was awarded $997,706 in support through Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network’s (AVIN) R&D Partnership Fund, along with $8,000,000 in industry contribution, to winterize its autonomous driving technology.
Gatik has major retail partners such as Walmart and Loblaw. In late 2020, it expanded its retailer presence into Canada with a partnership in the Greater Toronto Area with Loblaw.
Also, Retail Insider recently reported that Canadian Tire is teaming up with Toronto-based startup NuPort Robotics, Canada’s first autonomous trucking company, to partner with the Ontario government to invest $3 million to undertake an automated heavy duty trucking project to test a first-of-its-kind-in-the-world technology.
The automated trucks are currently transporting goods between a Canadian Tire distribution centre in the Greater Toronto Area and nearby rail terminals within a 20 kilometre radius.