For many years, now, all of the world’s largest express parcels delivery companies have been investing heavily in electric and alternative fuel vehicles. This has been as a result of increasingly strict emissions targets being set by regulators and the threat of an outright ban on diesel engine vehicles in many cities around the world.

It is not just regulators who are pushing for change. The Financial Times newspaper has published a story suggesting that larger customers for road freight services are pressing the European Commission to introduce regulations to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions from trucks.

The newspaper states that, “Unilever, Ikea, Nestlé and Carrefour [have] called for a 24 per cent cut in trucks’ fuel consumption by 2025, saying such a reduction would help the EU to meet commitments made in the 2015 Paris climate accord and push manufacturers to innovate in making low-emission vehicles.” The signatories of the letter are said to demand that compulsory targets be set for the number of electric freight vehicles on the road.

The challenges to achieve these goals should not be under-estimated. These include developing:

  • battery technology to allow for vans to carry higher payloads over longer distances
  • charging networks which allow vans to be re-charged ‘on-the-go’
  • smart-grid solutions which allow vans to be re-charged overnight at the depot within the constraints of local grid infrastructure.

The aim of this paper is to discuss some of the recent developments related to charging electric vehicles and the challenges being faced. This will involve a considerable crossover between electric cars and vans which in many cases will use the same charging infrastructure at least when ‘on-the-go’ during the day.