By Nick Carey
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Crown Estate will run an electric truck trial starting this summer with startup Volta Trucks to deliver goods to retailers on London's busy Regent Street as part of efforts to cut congestion and emissions, the companies said on Friday.
The trial will be run by the Crown Estate's distribution provider Clipper Logistics and involve a prototype Volta Zero, a 16-tonne electric truck that is due to go into production by the end of 2022 at a former truck plant in Austria .
With zero-emission mandates looking in cities like Paris or national bans on fossil-fuel vehicles at the end of this decade - the UK government has proposed an effective ban from 2030 - fleet operators are scrambling to test and buy electric commercial vehicles for delivering goods in urban environments in particular.
The Crown Estate is one of the largest property owners in London's West End and Clipper Logistics runs a delivery consolidation service for it to deliver to major retailers like John Lewis and H&M in the Regent Street area.
Under this service, Clipper Logistics takes delivery of goods at a warehouse outside London and consolidates them into fewer trucks to retailers on Regent Street. This has cut congestion in the area by 92% so far, said Scott Marshall, the Crown Estate's head of public realm and infrastructure.
Clipper Logistics Chief Executive Tony Mannix told Reuters his company has seen a huge surge in demand from customers for zero-emission commercial vehicles, but they are in short supply.
"Companies like Volta are going to find there is big demand for their trucks," Mannix said. "We need bigger vehicle manufacturers to accelerate the development of zero-emission models."
Volta Trucks currently has orders for 4,500 electric trucks, including 1,500 ordered by Deutsche Bahn's logistics unit Schenker.
(Reporting By Nick Carey; Editing by David Gregorio)