A group led by UPS Inc. said today it has deployed a battery-charging technology for UPS electric vehicles (EV) in central London that in a few years will enable the company to simultaneously recharge a much larger EV fleet without the need for costly upgrades to the power supply grid.
The technology will allow Atlanta-based UPS to recharge as many as 170 electric vehicles at one time at the location, up from the current limit of 65 that could be recharged under current conditions, the company said. UPS operates 52 EVs at the depot, known as "Camden," and plans to add 20 more.
UPS, not known for dramatic statements in its communiques, said the advance "signals the beginning of the end of a reliance upon traditional combustion engine powered vehicles." The company added that this is the first time the technology has been deployed on this large a scale anywhere in the world.
UPS partnered with U.K. Power Networks and Cross River Partnership, a London-based public-private sector partnership, in the "Smart Electric Urban Logistics" (SEUL) project. The work was funded by the U.K.'s Office for Low Emission Vehicles.
The new charging technology combines a smart grid with energy storage capabilities to allow UPS to pull from conventional power sources and avoid an expensive upgrade of the power supply grid. The company would not comment on how much it will save in fuel costs from the conversion. The model may be expanded to other cities in the UPS network if it is successful in London, the company said.
"Our previous work on electric freight vehicles has shown that local grid infrastructure constraints are one of the main barriers to their large-scale uptake," said Tanja Dalle-Muenchmeyer, program manager, electric freight at Cross River Partnership, in a statement. "We need to find smarter solutions to electric vehicle charging if we want to benefit from the significant air quality and environmental benefits these vehicles offer, and we believe this is such a solution."
UPS has projected that it is nearing a time when the acquisition costs to put an electric vehicle on the road, including costs associated with getting power to the vehicle, will be lower than the equivalent costs of its diesel counterpart.