Assessing the opportunity of electric vehicles in service trips

A recent paper evaluates the impact of using electric vehicles for urban service trips, explicitly focusing on delivery and installation services and reverse logistics. These aspects of commercial traffic in urban areas have been under-explored. Most recent research on commercial traffic addresses shop restocking, service visits to establishments, and e-commerce deliveries but has paid little attention to the service sector (e.g., installation, maintenance, repairs), which significantly affects urban sustainability through pollution, congestion, and parking space usage.

With the current trend of promoting electric vehicles, this study compares potential service patterns using actual data from central Rome, Italy, regarding when an electric fleet replaces a traditional one. The findings highlight opportunities to decouple delivery operations from installation tasks and integrate services with reverse logistics. These insights could inform integrated urban policies to maximize the benefits of electric vehicle adoption.

Two scenarios were examined: one involving only trucks, and the other incorporating hubs with varying demand and dwell times. In the alternative scenario, consolidated loads were transported by truck to the hub, and a predefined fleet of bicycles handled the last-mile delivery. The study found that bicycle capacities and dwell times were the most influential factors in travel times and distances.

The researchers indicate that while urban logistics interventions can reduce pollution and traffic congestion, they do not consistently achieve stable economic self-sustainability. For instance, introducing additional services may increase costs related to structure management, stocking, and handling, which are not always offset by the logistics benefits, such as optimizing vehicle capacity. To support the external cost reductions in road safety, security, and environmental impact, local authorities should help cover these extra costs.

Source: Comi, A., Polimeni, A., Belcore, O. M., Cartisano, A. G., Micari, S., & Napoli, G. (2023). Assessing the Opportunity Offered by Electric Vehicles in Performing Service Trips to End Consumers. Applied Sciences, 14(10), 4061.

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