Research: the role of incentives in zero-emission last-mile deliveries in California

Last-mile deliveries usually occur within urban areas where logistics operations increase congestion and emissions, as well as associated roadway-related health impacts. A new paper evaluates the role of incentives for zero and near-zero emission vehicle (ZEV) technologies in last-mile delivery operations.

Specifically, the study investigates the total cost of ownership and life cycle environmental impacts associated with last-mile deliveries, and compares the private and public costs of different vehicle powertrain and fuel pathways, under existing incentives in the State of California.

The study analyzes driving patterns for several last-mile delivery vocations, including beverage, warehouse, parcel, grocery, food, and local deliveries based on real-world truck travel data. Statistical analyses are conducted to compare driving patterns across vocations, vehicle classes, and powertrains, as well as across parcel carrier fleets. To better assess the role of the incentives, the study also provides a comparative estimate of the marginal health damages from life cycle emissions of criteria pollutants (e.g. $/ton).

The results suggest that parcel deliveries are characterized by short trips (95% less than 100 miles), a high number of stops and lower average driving speeds compared to other delivery vocations. The total cost of ownership for conventional diesel Class 3 to 6 vehicles used in last-mile applications was estimated to be approximately between $282 and $305 thousand dollars, with the cost of negative health impacts ranging from $38 to $64 thousand dollars over the vehicle lifetime.

The results show that battery-electric freight vehicles are cost-competitive with conventional diesel vehicles, particularly for smaller (Class 3) light commercial vehicles. Available financial incentives were sufficient to offset additional purchase and fuel expenses, leading to lower total costs of ownership.


Empirical analysis of the role of incentives in zero-emission last-mile deliveries in California M Jaller, L Pineda, H Ambrose, A Kendall – Journal of Cleaner Production, 2021

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