Fleet Innovations on the Road Ahead

Our business sits at the intersection of disruptive trends – rapid urbanization, e-commerce growth and technological innovation – that are fundamentally shifting markets and everyday life. As one of the key players in the transportation sector – the largest contributor to global GHG emissions – UPS is capitalizing on this disruption to shape a future in which we minimize our environmental impacts and conserve resources for future generations.

We accept the responsibility to address our environmental impacts, including setting a goal to reduce emissions 12% across our global ground operations by 2025. Collaboration is critical to achieving this goal, so we are working with vehicle manufacturers, fuel suppliers and other partners to create more sustainable solutions across our fleet and facilities.

Leading the Charge on Fleet Electrification

UPS has been pioneering alternative vehicle solutions since the 1930s when we began using electric vehicles in our fleet. In recent years, the main barrier to large-scale uptake of electric vehicles (EV) is lack of supply – there just aren’t enough electric vehicles available for freight and delivery usage. We’re accelerating our own electrification efforts, collaborating with small and large manufacturers alike to enable more rapid adoption of a variety of EVs.

We’ve placed an order for 125 of Tesla’s fully-electric semi-trucks and, in partnership with Workhorse, we launched the first EV that rivals the cost of conventional fuel vehicles. Through an investment in EV startup Arrival, we’ve committed to purchase 10,000 EVs purpose-built to UPS’s specifications and at global scale.

But there's another side of the EV story that often gets overlooked: even if the vehicles are in place, charging infrastructure remains a challenge. To address this, we convened the Smart Electric Urban Logistics (SEUL) consortium in the UK to deploy smart-grid technology that enables simultaneous recharging of an entire fleet of electric vehicles. We nearly tripled our EV capacity from 65 to 170 vehicles based in the London center, and are evaluating opportunities to scale this technology to other facilities.  

While EVs play an important role in reducing emissions and pollution from transportation, congestion can be a bigger issue in some cities. In those areas, we’re working with cities to deploy cycle logistics solutions that improve last-mile delivery in dense urban centers, with more than 30 pilot programs underway around the world.  

Spurring Market Demand for Renewable Natural Gas

While EVs are currently best suited for dense urban environments, we are continuously developing lower-emission solutions for longer routes in suburban and rural areas, including replacing 40% of our fuel with alternative sources by 2025.

In 2019, we announced the largest-ever U.S. purchase of renewable natural gas (RNG), which will reduce GHG emissions across our fleet by more than 1 million metric tons. We’re also adding 6,000 trucks that run on compressed natural gas (CNG), doubling our CNG capacity. Our expansive natural gas fleet has helped catalyze the market for production of cleaner fuels as we work toward increased use of RNG.

Collaborating on a Path Forward

With more than 10,300 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles driving more than 1 million miles each business day, we’ve learned a lot about which solutions work best in different operating conditions. In short: there is no silver bullet that suits every delivery scenario. At UPS, our approach is to continue to work with vehicle manufacturers, fuel suppliers and city officials to test new solutions, scale what works, and learn from what doesn’t.