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Electric vehicles to curb online shopping pollution

The plug-in charger for a BMW i3 electric car is pictured during the Auto China 2016 in Beijing, China, April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee



London’s delivery companies are experimenting with electric vehicles to curb the smog spewed by vans distributing parcels packed with goods purchased on the Internet.
The UK capital’s transport authority is catalysing the transition from diesel to battery-powered vehicles by funding Gnewt Cargo Ltd., which operates London’s largest all electric delivery fleet. Gnewt is part owned by shipping DX Group Ltd, counting TNT Express NV and Hermes Parcelnet Ltd. among its customers.
With their emissions-free electric motors silently navigating 20,000 packages a day through London streets, Gnewt could also deliver a breath of fresh air to Europe’s biggest city. The government says London’s pollution levels will probably breach European Union limits until at least 2030, a problem the Royal College of Physicians estimates causes 40,000 people a year to die early.
London expects a 20 percent increase in van traffic within the next 15 years traceable solely to things bought from the Web. Gnewt’s vans, which also use centralized depots to reduce the number of journeys, is seen as one solution to curb the smog and traffic generated by online-order deliveries.
“My clients send me all of their freight in bulk through the night, and then we will sort it and do the last mile in town with zero emissions,” Sam Clarke, founder and director of Gnewt Cargo, said in an interview.
London isn’t alone in battling smog stemming from home shopping — and the costs in financial and environmental terms of the last mile that packages travel before they tumble into the hands of consumers. Amazon.com Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Google Inc. are testing airborne drones, and startups Starship Technologies Ltd. in the U.K. and Dispatch Robotics Inc. in the U.S. are working with delivery robots.
In Norway, the government postal service Posten Norge AS has bought about 450 alternative fueled vans since 2011 including Renault SA’s Kangoo ZE, Peugeot SA’s Electric and Nissan Motor Co.’s e-NV200. Electric vehicles for delivery have caught the eye of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which controls more than half China’s online shopping market and is working with electric vehicle manufacturer Kandi Technologies Group Inc. to bolster use of the technology.
“Traffic jams, air pollution are pushing gasoline-powered cars into a dead end,” Kandi President Hu Xiaoming said in an interview. “Development of technologies is providing us with opportunity to make electric cars easier to use.”

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