The Company is planning similar initiatives in Delivery Offices across the UK, particularly in cities with plans for or with existing Clean Air Zones. It aims to build on its ambitions to become a net zero carbon emission business, with a 100% alternative fuel fleet for the UK's largest "Feet on the Street" network of over 85,000 postmen and women.
Bristol was selected due to the City's plans for a Clean Air Zone (CAZ), which will require certain vehicles to pay a daily charge to enter its centre. At present, other Delivery Offices across the UK are being considered for similar fleet makeovers in coming months – particularly those in places with existing CAZs, or that have plans to introduce them.
The fully electric vans have a significantly (up to 60%) larger load space than the vehicles they have replaced, giving them additional capacity to deal with growing parcel volumes.
The 23 new vans can travel up to 125 miles in between charges, depending on weather and load size. As part of Royal Mail's recent expansion of telemetry technology across its fleet[, the vans will also have telemetry capabilities installed, aimed at encouraging more efficient driving techniques.
Simon Thompson, Chief Executive Officer at Royal Mail said: "It's clear to me that customers increasingly want less environmentally impacting deliveries. And as a Company, we believe it's the right thing to do. We are delighted to transform Bristol East Central into the very first Royal Mail 'all-electric' Delivery Office. This is a really positive step and will help us assess the impact of these changes on both our customers and our people when compared conventional delivery offices."
Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said: "It's fantastic news that Royal Mail has chosen Bristol for its first ever all-electric Delivery Office. Their 23 electric vehicles will join Bristol's 99 bio-gas buses already on our streets in reducing emissions and improving air quality. We want to support people and businesses in transitioning our fleet to cleaner and more efficient vehicles. The investment in these vehicles and their network supports the important work of distribution across Bristol, as well as contributing to our economy as we recover from the Covid pandemic.''
CWU Bristol & District Branch Secretary, Rob Wotherspoon said: "This is not just about the fight against climate change but about the air that our communities breathe. It's great to see Royal Mail leading the charge for clean air and zero carbon delivery in Bristol."
A history of Royal Mail transportation
• It has been over 120 years since Royal Mail first experimented with using motorised vehicles to deliver the mail.
• Prior to the introduction of the General Post Office mail coach service, the mail was chiefly delivered by horse and cart or foot.
• John Palmer of Bath’s mail coach service proposal was approved in 1784, and enabled the rapid expansion of the General Post Office throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
• Experiments with motorised transport for carrying mail began in 1897 when discussions started around whether it was best to use steam, electric or ‘oil driven’ motors. • Each type of engine was tested and in 1904 a second-hand Wallis & Steevens traction engine was purchased - Royal Mail’s first motorised vehicle.
• The traction engine was a self-propelled steam engine that was primarily used to move heavy loads on roads, plough ground or to provide power.
• Three years later, the first motor vehicle entered service. It was a two and a half tonne lorry called the Maudslay Stores Number 1, which was in operation for 18 years.
• Today, Royal Mail operates the largest fleet in the country – more than 47,000 vehicles – from small vans for daily mail deliveries to double deck articulated lorries.
• Royal Mail has recently expanded its fleet of 416 electric vans and has recently added 29 Bio-CNG fuelled gas trucks to its operation.