The Future of Sustainable Urban Freight Distribution: A Delphi Study of the Drivers and Barriers of Electric Vehicles (EV) in London
Melody Ablola, Arup, Eoin Plant, University of South Wales
The drivers and barriers of electric delivery vehicle use in urban applications to enable the logistics industry to achieve the carbon emissions reduction targets set in the UK for 2050 and further abate the impacts of climate change.
The use of electric delivery vehicles in urban applications is a viable solution to enable the logistics industry to achieve the carbon emissions reduction targets set in the UK for 2050 and further abate the impacts of climate change. This research study has attempted to uncover the multi-dimensional drivers and challenges of the use of electric freight vehicles as a primary means for the decarbonisation of urban freight transport.
A comprehensive systematic literature review was undertaken and a theoretical framework closely linked to disruptive innovation was developed. A mixed research approach of observation of drivers in operation and a Delphi approach were implemented. The analysis of observation data augmented the literature and informed the Delphi approach. A two-round Delphi study was applied to elicit the views of an eight expert stakeholder panel from various sectors.
The paper presents prioritised results of the most critical drivers and barriers to EV. It was found that freight EV use is further driven by an urgency to improve city logistics, reduce congestion and whole life vehicle operational costs including the rising cost of fuel. The highest rated drivers set out by the Delphi study serve to highlight the most important drivers which focus on the urban impact:- benefits for carbon savings, enhanced competitive operations in urban centres. These benefits when further combined with consolidation center schemes can aide urban congestion, noise and pollution. However, it was seen that despite these benefits the most important barriers preventing their widespread adoption includes their high vehicle purchase cost and other vehicle performance issues.
The findings of this study revealed notable differences in expert opinions which warrant future exploration. Similarly, it was suggested in the literature that electric freight vehicles are a disruptive change to the urban logistics industry and this study concludes to suggest future research is required to determine if this is in fact a barrier. Ultimately, the implications of this research give weight to prevailing barriers to the electrification of urban logistics fleets and provide prioritised targets for policy and practice to resolve.
If these barriers can be overcome, greater contributions from low carbon urban freight transport can be realised. In order to deliver the targets of a decarbonised 2050, the improvement of the environmental sustainability of logistics transport remains a key agenda.
Association for European Transport