All Purpose Transport — Electric Last-Mile Delivery for IKEA, Goodyear, BP, Others

Based on an interview with Paul Kahlert, General Manager of All Purpose Transport

All Purpose Transport (APT) is primarily a last-mile delivery provider to blue-chip customers such as Rheem, Solahart, Goodyear, BP, IKEA, Fantastic Furniture and Bunzl. Founded in 1975, APT’s business model engages close to 300 owner-drivers who select and purchase their vehicles to perform delivery services on behalf of APT.

Project EV was conceived to investigate more sustainable delivery methods for last-mile deliveries, as the current fleet all uses internal combustion engines (ICE). APT’s current fleet consumes around 60,000 liters of diesel every week, bringing 160 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. There is now proven evidence that an increase in the amount of CO2 creates an abundance of greenhouse gases that capture additional heat, creating climate change. As a family business, APT’s founders wanted the company to explore how they could reduce their CO2 footprint while maintaining a commercially viable business.

In addition to this, APT’s vehicles enter residential areas to perform around 2,500 home deliveries per week, where the vehicles generate noise and diesel particulate matter where families live. The purpose of this project is to deliver solutions that are both commercially viable and have a significant positive impact on the reduction of emissions from delivery activities.

In addition, this project will provide a “roadmap” for how APT can convert its ICE vehicles to electric vehicles while maintaining the integrity of the current owner-driver business model.

It is already clear that within the next ten years, there will be a marked shift in the transport industry, especially in the highly populated areas, where small trucks will be battery-powered, while larger trucks will use a hydrogen fuel cell solution. APT wants to ensure that they stay ahead of their competitors and deliver a cost-effective and sustainable solution to them by starting the zero-emission transformation early.

Transport for all purposes

SEA Electric van, rebuilt Hino. Photo lent by APT.

APT currently has three electric vehicles – a SEA Electric vehicle, a Hino conversion to electric; a JAC NV55 electric truck supplied by BLK Auto; and an EC11 electric van supplied by EV Automotive.

Each of the vehicles has different load capacity and range. “As a rule, we build delivery routes of about 160 km to eliminate ‘range anxiety’. The trucks can transport up to 2 tons and the van about 1.5 tons. Right now the vehicles start / end from our depot, so we have to keep them ‘close’. With the implementation of charging stations at petrol stations and shopping malls, we are starting to try to take the vehicles out of their ‘reach’ and then use fast charging solutions to support their return to the base. “

This will significantly increase the range of the vehicle when the fast charging equipment is installed at loading bays and other truck-accessible areas (ie not Tesla charging areas that a large vehicle has difficulty accessing).

Transport for all purposes

JAC electric van. Photo lent by APT.

“Over the past 3 years, we have seen the prices of electric trucks fall. When we started the program, we paid close to $ 200,000 for the trucks. This caused them to almost double the price of their ICE equivalent and certainly caused a “creeping” effect on the CFO on capex spending.

“We now see that prices are around 30-40% above the diesel equivalent. The big saving is where you get a ‘full’ solution for charging the vehicle – ie a solar cell, battery and charging solution. The sky-high diesel prices cost a driver about $ 100 a day. In contrast, an electric car tax is around $ 15-20 per. day. During the ‘lifetime’ of the vehicle, the savings on fuel costs and maintenance compared to the diesel engine are significant. The second saving is on tires and brakes, where the ‘regenerative’ braking results in less wear on both tires and brake pads.

“When we originally started our EV journey, there was only one real supplier (SEA). The market is opening up now. But we have yet to see the traditional OEM operators like Isuzu / Hino / UD Nissan enter the market with a viable solution. The downside to this is that our owner-driver model, where our drivers buy the equipment, means they have a strong brand loyalty, so it has been a challenge to convince our drivers to buy ‘unknown’ vehicles as they have concerns about warranty and ongoing service from a small supplier. ”

Transport for all purposes

EC11 from EV Automotive. Photo lent by APT.

“The first comment from the drivers was how quiet the vehicle was and the lack of vibration from the diesel engine. When the driver is sitting at a traffic light, the driver is far more aware of their ‘environment’ and it has extra safety benefits. The other comments include how smooth the vehicle takes off from the headlights and the lack of gear means that the ride is much smoother.The regenerative braking of the vehicles is also quite noticeable when going down hills and coming up to traffic lights, so the driving style must be adapted from the ‘traditional’ method .

“Finally, using the vehicle on highways is a very quick lesson on how to get ‘range anxiety’, as you can literally see the battery percentage drop when the vehicle drives over 80 km / h. Keeping the truck away from highways was one of The first things our planners had to use in their route to keep the vehicle with enough power to return.

“The only point to add is that vans will be able to be taken home by the drivers into residential areas, so some consideration must be given to the infrastructure when the electric vehicles all come home at the same time and everyone turns on their electrical equipment.. The vans / trucks draws a much larger current from the network, so it will be important to get the infrastructure at home (3-phase).

“Because the vehicle is so quiet in its operation, we have joked about having to have ‘Mr Whippy’ music passed through large speakers so that children are not harmed by the vehicle in residential areas. The downside is that instead of an ice cream, they get flat-packed furniture. ”

APT recently presented at the Noosa EV Expo and Street Fest.

Featured photo courtesy of APT.


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