Dive Brief:

  • FedEx Express has expanded the testing of electric carts to five New York City locations as it seeks to boost delivery efficiency in dense urban areas, the carrier announced last week.
  • Company couriers are making deliveries with the four-wheeled BrightDrop Trace e-carts in the city’s Diamond District, Theatre District, Midtown, Midtown East and Brooklyn Heights. The routes in the pilot cover more than seven walking miles.
  • E-carts can help reduce vehicle idling and divert delivery operations away from the curb, mitigating traffic bottlenecks on congested streets. “By furthering the use of these carts on real routes in Manhattan and Brooklyn, FedEx hopes to shape what the future of efficient urban delivery could look like,” Michael Salerno, a FedEx Express senior station operations manager in Manhattan, said in a statement.

Dive Insight:

FedEx is expanding its e-cart pilot after seeing promising results at an initial test site in the Diamond District last year. During the four-month pilot, the e-carts allowed couriers to increase package deliveries by 15% per hour on routes in a high-density, vertical urban environment, the company said.

“The test enabled us to eliminate one on-road vehicle from the delivery route and cut the dwell time of delivery vehicles at the curb in half,” FedEx said of the Diamond District pilot on its website. “The Trace electric carts reduced physical strain on couriers and lowered the number of their trips back to their vehicles.”

E-carts are pre-sorted and loaded at a FedEx station before being dropped off with foot couriers at locations along their route. Couriers make deliveries using the e-carts, and the e-carts are then picked up and taken back to the company station.

BrightDrop’s Trace e-cart has a built-in electric motor to reduce the strain on couriers, according to the company’s website. It can reach a speed of 3 miles per hour to match an operator’s walking pace. Additionally, the Trace e-cart has a maximum payload capacity of 200 pounds and 23 cubic feet of space.

FedEx has worked with BrightDrop beyond using its e-carts. In June, the carrier received its first 150 electric delivery vehicles from the GM subsidiary to make deliveries in Southern California. FedEx aims to convert its parcel pickup and delivery fleet to all-electric by 2040.


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