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Driving towards low carbon mobility

Ocado is expanding its fleet of CNG-fuelled trucks, as Amazon unveils its first custom-designed electric delivery van

Online supermarket Ocado is forging ahead with plans to reduce the emissions of its extensive delivery fleet using Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), as it yesterday revealed more than a third of its delivery vehicles are now powered by the lower carbon fuel.

The majority of the CNG trucks run out of Ocado's Hatfield site where last year it partnered with Gasrec to become the first retailer to self-fund their own CNG refueling station directly linked to the grid, it said. The latest batch is set to run out of Ocado's North Warwickshire site where the company is exploring plans for a second refueling station, it added.

Proponents claim the use of renewable biomethane enables CNG to drastically cut carbon emissions compared to conventional diesel. Ocado estimates that by using CNG with a minimum of 50 percent biomethane content, the switch away from diesel is enabling it to cut CO2 emissions by 68 percent across its fleet.

The firm's decision to switch to CNG stemmed from "the desire to look at how we could begin to move away from diesel," according to Graham Thomas, fleet operations manager at Ocado.

"We chose CNG as we didn't necessarily need the extended range offered by liquified gas, and in terms of a refueling experience, CNG has much more in common with diesel," he said. "It's an easier transition for the drivers, and in terms of health and safety, it allowed us to adopt the changes quickly and with minimal disruption to day-to-day operations."

Ocado is far from the only retail or delivery giant switching a swath of its fleet to CNG. John Lewis has pledged to phase out all diesel-powered heavy trucks from its fleet by 2028, replacing them with over 500 new Waitrose and John Lewis biomethane HGVs. Delivery firm Hermes is also planning to switch its 200-strong diesel fleet to run on renewable biomethane, while the likes of ASDA, Argos, Royal Mail, and DHL have also invested in trucks that can run on the fuel.

Other firms, however, are focusing on electrification to draw down the emissions of their fleets, and yesterday Amazon unveiled its first custom electric delivery van, developed in partnership with US auto manufacturer Rivian. The firm expects to have 10,000 of the vans on the roads carrying out deliveries by 2022, before multiplying that number to 100,000 by 2030.

The vans boast Alexa integration, exterior cameras, state-of-the-art sensor detection, and a "dancefloor" inside the driver's cabin for easy movement within the van, Amazon said.

"We hope our custom electric vehicle helps create a sense of urgency in the industry to think big about embracing sustainable technology and solutions - whether you're a package delivery company, a logistics company, an ice cream manufacturer, or almost anyone else with vehicles on the road," said Ross Rachey, director of the global fleet and products at Amazon.

Source: businessgreen.com

The firm took delivery of another six Iveco CNG Stralis trucks on Wednesday, which forms part of 20 new CNG units the firm is putting into service through the course of 2020. To date, the delivery giant claims to have racked up over 11.5 million CNG-fuelled kilometers through its Iveco Stralis trucks, which are run on a five-year operating lease through Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions.