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Pandemic e-commerce surge spurs race for 'Tesla-like' electric delivery vans
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(Reuters) – Delivery fleet operators face regulatory pressure in California and other states to buy electric vehicles, but a surge in package deliveries thanks to coronavirus lockdowns has major firms itching to switch to electric right now.
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And they want far more than just battery-powered versions of diesel- or gas-guzzling trucks and vans.
Fleet operators such as United Parcel Service Inc hunger for computers on wheels that can harvest data and upgrade safety or autonomous features overnight to save money and boost profit.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE INC.
“For us, it’s not just about making the wheels turn with a zero-emission vehicle,” said Scott Phillippi, UPS’s senior director of fleet maintenance and engineering, who envisions “Tesla-like” vehicles in the company’s vast fleet. “It’s about an integrated-technology vehicle – and that’s really what we’re pushing for.”
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With its ability to send wireless upgrades and fixes to customers’ electric cars, Tesla Inc is seen as a bellwether for electrification. Major companies like UPS want to harness that power to bring cost-saving, autonomous or safety measures to their fleets in real time.
If, for instance, a manufacturer developed a feature to prevent a truck from bumping into a loading dock, UPS could have it in tens of thousands of vehicles overnight to prevent expensive dents, Phillippi said.
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