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John Lewis shifts gear to electric vehicles to support online business

John Lewis operations

John Lewis and Waitrose will shift their fleet to electric vehicles as both brands prepare to scale up their online businesses.

The retailer has commissioned four different vehicle designs which will be trialled early next year. The trucks are expected to save over 20,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The modular vehicles can be upgraded as technology evolves, meaning that they may have a life of over 20 years.

The move comes after John Lewis announced in April online sales had risen 84% since the middle of March while Waitrose prepares for the end of its deal with Ocado in September and subsequent loss of sales.

The John Lewis Partnership is looking to end its use of fossil fuels by 2030. It announced earlier this year that it would be building a dedicated biomethane gas filling station to enable approximately 120 Waitrose heavy goods trucks to use the fuel, which is derived from waste organic matter and boasts significant energy savings.

Justin Laney, partner and general manager of central transport at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “As our online services rapidly expand, we’re working hard to meet our goal of operating a zero fossil fuel in the next ten years.

“Our new electric vans are an ideal solution for home deliveries; the innovative design means they’re more efficient, but also respectful to the environment and the growing number of neighbourhoods in which we deliver.”

The UK government has floated plans to impose a 2% tax on online transactions, as well as a tax on consumer deliveries in order to curb environmental impacts. However, studies show that online shopping is usually more environmentally friendly than bricks and mortar retail due to the greater efficiency of one vehicle serving a number of routes compared to shoppers individually visiting a store.