Milk & More: Returning to their electric roots
Britain’s largest milk delivery service, Milk & More, is passionate about encouraging people to eat well and live sustainably. Since 2018, it has been returning to its electric roots, investing in over 350 fully electric vehicles (EVs) with plans to adopt more as technology progresses.
Energy Saving Trust met with Marc Ling and Gary Evans to find out more.
Why did they switch (back) to electric vehicles?
Milk & More has used electric milk floats for over 70 years. Due to ongoing business growth, vehicle technology advancements and the opportunity to reduce emissions and fuel use, Milk & More invested in a new generation of EVs (based on a 5-year replacement cycle).
Milk & More now has over 500 EVs, including the 140 milk floats. With the fleet travelling over 14 million miles a year, they will save 3.4 million litres of diesel a year.
What type of electric vehicles do they have?
In 2018, Milk & More purchased 200 electric StreetScooters. Originally designed for Deutsche Post, the vehicles have a range of 65-70 miles, a payload of 965 kg and a left-hand drive design. This has proven advantageous for milkmen and milkwomen as they can get in and out of the van more easily at the kerbside.
In late 2019, Milk & More introduced 159 LDV EV80s. With a longer range of 120 miles and 1,200 kg payload, similar to their existing diesel vans, these vans can cover larger rounds.
What challenges have Milk & More overcome?
Before any EVs were purchased, Milk & More recorded the mileage and carrying capacity required for each route every day for a week. The fleet managers matched the best vehicle to each route, in terms of range and payload, and then worked out which vehicles needed to be replaced or reallocated between sites. Although initially time-consuming, the analysis ensured efficiency, value for money and a positive experience for drivers.
To ensure the vans met their specialist requirements, Milk & More worked with LDV’s vehicle designers and were able to recycle, refurbish and modify the bodies of their old diesel milk floats to fit the electric LDVs. For example, the vans have removable shelving and a chilled plate for perishable products.
What charging infrastructure do they have?
As deliveries are usually made between 11pm and 7am, there is enough downtime during the day for slower charging, the least expensive option. For every vehicle, a 7kWh chargepoint has been installed in their centres, and the latest LDV vans are using dual-socket smart chargepoints.
Due to their historical use of electric milk floats and slow charging, many sites have sufficient electricity supply capacity without the need for an upgrade, despite the number of vehicles charging at once.
Do they have a practical top tip?
Marc and Gary recommend spending time understanding how vehicles park at different sites (i.e. reverse parking) and then siting chargepoints so cables do not get run over and to ensure health and safety policies are followed.
What lessons have they learnt?
Familiarisation sessions are essential. These introduce drivers to key features, such as regenerative braking, which helps to maximise range. Feedback from drivers has been very positive, with many finding them easy to make deliveries from.
Milk & More have condensed information on charging, the vehicle specification and operation, and dealing with emergencies into a 3-page laminated guide which is placed in every vehicle.
What about maintenance?
Fourteen in-house vehicle technicians have undertaken training (level 3 & 4) to work on high-voltage systems. Vehicles are serviced every 13 weeks and have daily routine checks.
To refine their analysis and assist with planning the next replacement cycle, Milk & More plans to automate mileage capture. This will also help to optimise delivery routes and charging requirements.
Another step is to explore smart charging options. Like most businesses, Milk & More have a half-hourly electricity tariff so it would be cost-effective (and better for the national electricity grid) if they can avoid charging the vehicles at peak times. Their back-office system (Hubsta) allows the business to manage the charging rate for individual vehicles.
100% electric ambition
By 2025, Milk & More’s ambition is for 90% of the fleet to be fully electric and eventually reaching 100% electric, as technology develops further.