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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Evaluating the Use of Zero-Emission Vehicles in Last Mile Deliveries

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While trucks may only represent a small share of the traffic in urban areas, they generate more than half of overall emissions for specific contaminants (Jaller et al., 2016). One of the approaches to contend with such issues is to promote the use of new technologies and alternative fuel pathways. This work conducts an empirical assessment of the economic and driving patterns of trucks used for last mile delivery given the increase in these vehicles serving even more densely populated areas (compared to the long-haul transport). The work concentrates on parcel deliveries, as they are typically used to transport the goods resulting from the rapidly growing e-commerce demand. The authors evaluate the performance by analyzing real driving data from parcel fleets (Walkowicz et al., 2014; Jaller et al., 2017a), and use the data to conduct life-cycle assessments (LCA) to estimate the various impacts. The contributions of the work are: 1) comparison analyses between parcel delivery driving data with other delivery vocations to identify different freight patterns. The analyses show the differences and similarities between the driving patterns when using different drivetrains for a number of parcel delivery vocations. 2) Estimation of delivery tour length distributions (TLDs), and specific fuel consumption (SFC) for different drivetrains and vehicle classes. And, 3) estimate the total cost of ownership (TCO), including externalities, of different truck technologies under numerous scenarios that assume changes in fuel efficiency and incentives of certain drivetrains. Additional sensitivity analyses are conducted to identify the key parameters that affect the TCO. Among these, the analyses show the efficiency of purchase and use incentives for these technologies. The results can be extrapolated to a system-wide scope for similar vocations with common operational variables and explore the benefits and costs of transitioning to zero-emission technologies.

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