Electrify delivery vehicles

Background

Most package delivery is done by just a few companies: UPS, USPS, FedEx, Amazon, DHL, OnTrac. Delivery is mostly from vans and small trucks that are owned by the delivery company. There are also some companies that offer jobs to sub-contractors who supply vehicles and drive for them, such as AmazonFlex and UberEats. But, in order to use the Commercial Loading Zones in Seattle, the truck must be permitted by the City. These delivery fleets are quite large -- UPS has around 123,000 vehicles worldwide, while FedEx has about 85,000. How can Seattle require these vehicles be electrified?

Policy Ideas

These are some ideas to encourage faster electrification of delivery vehicles:

  • To park in a loading zone, vehicles are required to get a Commercial Vehicle Load Zone Permit from the city. The city could have a two-tiered charging structure for these so that clean powered vehicles pay less.

  • The city could do a form of cordon or area pricing for access to delivery, where the charges are less for clean powered vehicles.

  • The city could establish a freight hub on the edge of downtown, with offloading and short term storage capabilities, as well as recharging for last mile delivery.

Current Programs

There is nothing that is explicitly around electrification. There is an interesting local resource, the UW Urban Freight Lab. One of the research projects that are working on is piloting having dedicated small package hubs, where packages can be dropped off large trucks and transferred to smaller trucks for the last mile. This might enable more electrification, as smaller, electric vehicles could be employed for the final segment, and vehicles recharged at the hub.

In the Media