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Primer for Improved Urban Freight Mobility and Delivery
Operations, Logistics, and Technology Strategies

Vehicle Environmental Performance
The European Commission’s Freight Electric Vehicles in Urban Europe (FREVUE) Project

Primary Objective

Key Accomplishments

  • The project deployed 80 all-electric vehicles in real-world urban logistics operations and collected data from 470,000 miles (757,000 km) of driving.
  • The project showed that all-electric freight vehicles are well-suited to inner-city freight operations and that the range of vehicles currently available on the market is sufficient for most operations.
  • Most industry partners have, based on their FREVUE experience, moved forward and procured more all-electric vehicles on their own or with the help of other funding sources.

European governments at all levels have set ambitious targets for reducing emissions of air pollutants and carbon dioxide from vehicles in cities. The use of all-electric vehicles for freight and passenger transport is widely recognized as a primary strategy for eliminating tailpipe emissions. The European Commission funded the Freight Electric Vehicles in Urban Europe (FREVUE) project to test the suitability of the newest generation of electric vehicles for last-mile deliveries in urban areas. The FREVUE project, which ran from 2013 to 2017, exposed more than 80 all-electric freight vehicles to the day-to-day rigors of the urban logistics environment.

Implementation Approach

The FREVUE project was conducted by a team of 17 industry partners, nine public-sector bodies, and six research organizations. The project deployed all-electric vehicles in eight major European cities: Amsterdam, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Milan, Oslo, Rotterdam, and Stockholm. Each of the FREVUE demonstrations varied in the types of vehicles they deployed, the types of goods that were delivered, and the logistics models that were tested. The project had three main phases:

photo of a FREVUE pilot all-electric Emoss truck

An Emoss 20-ton (18.5-tonne) all-electric truck deployed for the FREVUE pilot in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Source: FREVUE.

  1. Assessment and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Framework: The researchers developed data protocols, data handling procedures, and an assessment framework for the eight demonstrations.
  2. Demonstrations: The FREVUE team deployed the electric freight vehicles, charging infrastructure, and ICT management systems at the eight project sites.
  3. Analysis: The researchers evaluated the data from the demonstrations and developed guidelines and recommendations for the different key stakeholders in urban logistics. The analyses included:
    • Assessment of the technical suitability of the vehicles for urban logistics.
    • Economic analysis of the total cost of ownership of the different vehicle types compared to conventionally fueled vehicles.
    • Impact of a range of policies on the economic case for the logistics operators to deploy all-electric vehicles.
    • Environmental analysis of emissions reductions achieved and analysis of the potential impacts of wider-scale deployment on air quality, congestion, and the electricity grid.
    • Attitudinal survey of the different stakeholders involved in the demonstrations.

The economic analysis showed that for small electric freight vehicles (≤3.9 tons) that are driven at least 37 miles (60 km) a day, the total cost of ownership comparison can be favorable within about five years. For medium-sized vehicles (between 3.9 and 8.3 tons), it is more challenging but still possible to find a positive business case. For the largest vehicles (>8.3 tons), the analysis did not find a positive business case for all-electric technology, even with currently available subsidies and a long depreciation period.

photo of Renault Kangoo ZE and ZE Maxi all-electric vans

Renault Kangoo ZE and ZE Maxi all-electric vans deployed by the Portuguese national postal service for the FREVUE pilot in Lisbon, Portugal. Source: FREVUE.

However, the economic analysis noted that the business case can be affected by public policies such as exemption from congestion charges, a fee charged in some European cities for entering the city center during peak hours. The analysis also looked at how future reductions in the cost of batteries would affect the business case. The difference between the cost of electricity and diesel (or gasoline) is also a key driver in the total cost of ownership. The environmental analysis estimated that the FREVUE project led to reductions of nitrogen oxide emissions of up to 4,400 lbs. (2,000 kg) and reductions in particulate matter savings of more than 150 lbs. (70 kg). The analysis estimated the reduction in total environmental greenhouse gas emissions of 190 to 210 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This equates to a 45-percent savings by switching to electricity from diesel or gasoline, but the savings from each demonstration site varied considerably based on the local mix of electricity sources.

For other agencies planning a similar demonstration project, FREVUE project managers recommend that extra attention be paid to the process of monitoring vehicle performance and collecting vehicle data. FREVUE researchers received vehicle data from different types of monitoring devices, and the data files did not always use the same parameters. This made it more difficult to make comparisons across vehicles.

Local Contact

Tanja Dalle-Muenchmeyer, FREVUE Coordinator, Cross River Partnership/Westminster City Council,

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