E-Commerce Rules Shopping, EVs Should Rule Delivery

With the rise of e-commerce, the number of boxes being delivered to our doorsteps is increasing exponentially, and so are the number of delivery trucks roaming our local neighborhoods – seven days a week. This means more vehicle emissions on your street. 

But convenience does not have to come with air pollution. At SDG&E, we are working toward a future of zero-emissions delivery trucks.

In an application pending before the California Public Utilities Commission, we propose to power e-commerce deliveries with electric vehicles (EV). Replacing fossil-fueled delivery trucks with EVs will cut harmful emissions and clean the air we all breathe, ultimately creating healthier communities.

We plan to partner with local delivery companies to install EV charging equipment for 90 fleet vehicles. A special rate would be created to encourage charging during grid-friendly hours when solar energy is abundant and electricity costs are lower.

Delivery companies can save on fueling costs, as well as vehicle maintenance costs. EVs are typically cheaper to maintain than their gas-fueled counterparts – they have fewer components and don’t require oil changes.

The transition of 90 delivery trucks to electric can cut carbon emissions by about 14,000 metric tons over the lifetime of the equipment – equivalent to removing the emissions from a passenger car driving 34 million miles. Our project will target delivery vehicle hubs that are located within or adjacent to disadvantaged communities, which experience a disproportionate amount of pollution in our region.

As E-commerce Accelerates, the Number of Delivery Trucks Continues to Grow

According to a 2016 report by the Pew Research Center, eight in ten Americans are now online shoppers. More and more delivery vehicles are expected to hit our streets to meet the demand for home deliveries for just about everything under the sun. It’s not just online retailers like Amazon that are revolutionizing the shopping experience. More recently, there’s been an explosive growth in restaurant delivery apps and monthly subscription services that center around food and wine, farm produce, clothes, and education materials. To support the continued e-commerce growth, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics foresees increased demand for large and regional shipping companies to deliver packages.

Delivery vehicles are ideal for zero-emission technology because they frequently stop and go, spend a significant amount of time idling, and are centrally maintained and fueled. According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, when fossil fueled delivery trucks idle they emit more pollutant per mile than when driving. The switch to electric eliminates that problem.

If our project is approved, you may soon see an electric delivery truck in your neighborhood, leaving not a trace of air pollution.

This article is part of a series taking a closer look at seven projects proposed by SDG&E to increase access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure as we work to clean the air for a healthier tomorrow. Learn more about our plans to electrify transportation and clean our air, here.