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European postal giants promise switch to EVs

04 Mar 2019, 12:58 ... tch-to-evs

Corporate demand for electric vehicles surges, as reports suggest UK ministers are mulling plans for a Tesla-style 'gigafactory'

Firms gathering in Switzerland this week for the Geneva Motor Show have sent a clear message to automakers to speed up production of electric vehicles.

European postal giants Swiss Post and Austrian Post today announced plans to switch to 100 per cent electric vehicles by 2030, as thay became the latest large corporates to join the EV100 campaign from The Climate Group.

Austrian Post, the largest logistics business in Austria, already has more than 1,600 electric cars, mopeds, and bikes in its fleet. But it announced today that a further 9,000 vehicles will be replaced with electric alternatives over the next decade.

"As the country's leading logistics company, we want to leverage the public's familiarity with us to show that e-mobility works well in our regular operations and is also profitable," said CEO Georg Pölzl. "Our joining the EV100 initiative and the objective of having 100 per cent e-vehicles on the last mile by the year 2030 comprise a logistical step on our journey towards CO2-free and pollution-free logistics."

At the same time, Post CH, a subsidiary of Swiss Post, said it will switch more than 10,000 vehicles to electric under the EV100 pledge, including 4,600 delivery vans. The two firms were also joined as new EV100 members by energy majors EDP and Meridian Energy, which both promised a switch to electric vehicles.

And today fellow EV100 member LeasePlan, which has 1.8 million vehicles under management around the world, issued its first green bond to help fund its switch to electric cars. The €500m five-year bond attracted €3.5bn worth of demand, the Dutch firm said, which will use the capital injection to finance its plan to deliver net zero emissions from its fleet by 2030.

Helen Clarkson, chief executive of The Climate Group, said the new commitments are further evidence of a surge in corporate interest in all-electric fleets. "The EV transition is well underway," she said. "To stay competitive, all major companies should start transitioning their fleets now, and automakers must get on with increasing supply - or else risk losing out on this huge opportunity."

Meanwhile, ministers of European nations are jostling to ensure their country is positioned to reap the benefits of the electric transition. Last month Germany and France confirmed a joint initiative to build two new battery factories, one in France and one in Germany, to shift battery production from Asia to Europe in a bid to bolster European auto manufacturing.

Reports in The Times this weekend suggested UK ministers are now mulling a similar move. According to the report, plans are being considered for a £1.7bn factory involving Jaguar Land Rover, BMW, Nissan, and Geely. The shared factory would be backed by state support and give manufacturers the chance to spread the investment cost of domestic battery production.

Major automakers are already repositioning to prepare for a new era of electric manufacturing. Rumours are circulating that Jaguar Land Rover is preparing to announce an investment in the UK worth hundreds of millions of pounds this week to support a new battery assembly plant in Birmingham and the re-tooling of its engine plant in Wolverhampton for EV production.

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