UPS Wants to Get More Plugged In

By: Bridget Clerkin March 2, 2018
UPS aims to bring more electric trucks into service in the U.S. in a plan meant to control costs for the package delivery firm.
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In the world of technology, “UPS” stands for uninterruptible power supply—a battery system that keeps the juice flowing to computers in the event of a blackout.

In the world of package delivery, these initials have a different meaning, but officials at the company bearing them are hoping to acquire some electric backup of their own.

UPS will build its own fleet of plug-in delivery trucks, adding 50 of the battery-powered vehicles to its U.S. fleet some time in 2018, company representatives recently announced. The electric trucks will launch later this year for test runs in Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles, with the goal of bringing more plug-in trucks to the market by 2019.

Designed in tandem with Ohio-based technology firm Workhorse, the two companies will construct the trucks completely from scratch, eventually adding the vehicles to UPS’ existing fleet of alternative-fuel vehicles, which includes 300 battery-powered models and 700 hybrid vans used in Europe and the U.S. All told, the delivery company employs more than 35,000 trucks and vans around the globe, a vast majority of which run on gasoline and diesel.

The new batch in development will be able to outzip the rest, thanks to a 400% upgrade in fuel and energy efficiency, according to Workhorse. The fleet is expected to have a 100-mile range per charge, or about the length of an average urban delivery route.

The order is part of UPS’ initiative to replace 40% of the fossil fuels its vehicles consume with alternative energy sources by 2025. The company also plans to make one alternative-fueled vehicle purchase for every four new vehicles it acquires by 2020.

Still, the move isn’t just about creating green energy—it’s also about saving some green. Part of the Workhorse deal is to build a van that lowers overall operating expenses by creating an electric engine that costs less to fuel and maintain throughout its working life as compared to gas- and diesel-powered models, UPS officials said.

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