Canada’s Purolator ventures into electric cargo bikes and low-speed vehicles as peak season nears

Published: Monday, November 16, 2020

Aiming to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, the company says it will continue to tap advanced technology in transportation to improve delivery performance and safety, complementing its existing fleet of 323 hybrid-electric vehicles.

The impact of climate change has never been more visible than now. Intense wildfires in California claiming more than 94,000 acres of land and 129 million trees, billions of properties lost and thousands of people displaced. Devastating super typhoons and hurricanes occurring more frequent than usual across many parts of the world. Drought in Africa. Melting glaciers. Rising temperatures displacing many species. And the list goes on.

And while governments are largely responsible in creating policies to thwart the acceleration of climate change, businesses and individuals are also doing their part to save the planet.

In Canada, the country’s leading integrated freight, package and logistics solutions provider, recently launched its innovative delivery vehicles to increase network capacity, reduce its carbon footprint and provide greater fleet flexibility in urban centers.

It’s new fleet of vehicles—the electric cargo bikes and low-speed zero emission cars—offers a last-mile delivery solution to respond to the ever-increasing growth in e-commerce.

“More than ever, we’re committed to helping dense metropolitan cities operate more smoothly through new delivery methods that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said John Ferguson, Purolator President and CEO.

The company is now rolling out new and expanded sustainable operational innovations to lower vehicle emissions and improve customer experience in densely populated areas by:

Testing new fully electric low-speed vehicles to reduce noise and traffic congestion when delivering within busy downtown core areas of Toronto, Ontario, and Montreal, Quebec. The compact size of low-speed vehicles makes delivering on busy streets with limited parking more manageable, as they take up less than half the space of a traditional delivery truck.

Expanding its fleet of electric-cargo bikes (e-bikes) in Montreal to maneuver through pedestrian-only and zero-emission zones and street closures. Additionally, the e-bikes can be parked on sidewalks for delivery within restricted-parking areas. The fleet of e-bikes is housed at Canada’s first urban distribution centre, opened with the City of Montreal.

Piloting automated self-serve parcel lockers at Honoré-Beaugrand subway station in Montreal. This initiative, in partnership with Société de transport de Montréal and the City of Montreal, is one of the first public transit subway systems providing commuters a convenient self-serve option for picking up shipments.

Flexible alternatives

Since the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Purolator says it has seen residential deliveries increase approximately 50 percent, including in areas designated as pedestrian-only or those with limited access for delivery trucks.

Purolator’s low-speed vehicles and e-bikes offer quick service to these spots by providing a flexible alternative for delivery. As regulations around transportation and city logistics continue to evolve, these alternative vehicles provide an agile solution with the ability to deliver the same number of packages as a standard-size delivery truck.

“Purolator has made important sustainability investments as part of our $1B delivering the future growth and innovation plan,” said Ferguson. “We’ve consistently evolved over our 60-year history to stay one step ahead of change. Our goal is to continuously innovate, adapt intelligently and provide workable solutions for the unique challenges of urban growth, along with the growth in B2B, e-commerce and home deliveries, particularly as the economy navigates through the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In the company’s 2019 Corporate Social Responsibility Report, Purolator underscored its commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. To meet that goal, the company will introduce new types vehicles to its fleet, with advanced technology to improve delivery performance and safety, complementing Purolator’s existing fleet of 323 hybrid-electric vehicles, to reduce the organization’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.

46 million packages this holiday season

Purolator said it’s introducing multiple network investments to meet an expected 20 percent jump in peak-season demand compared to 2019.

These include a significant increase in customer access points through new strategic partnerships, an expansion of its fleet of Mobile Quick Stop trucks and new innovative services to enhance health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Purolator has a year-round process for managing periods of significant volume fluctuations, and this approach has enabled our team to adapt quickly during the pandemic to meet the needs of businesses and consumers,” said the company’s President and CEO. “During this year’s ‘peak’ season, we expect to pick up and deliver over 46 million packages, averaging 1 million processed each business day. We are ready to deliver for our customers and continue to invest in network capacity to provide safer, simpler and more convenient ways for Canadians to ship and receive packages.”

In addition to its contactless-delivery methods executed earlier this year, the company is also launching new services to augment physical-distancing solutions during the pandemic:

Quick Stop Kiosks launched last holiday season  expanded to 12 locations across the country for contactless shipment drop-offs. These include: New locations at select Purolator Shipping Centers, select Michaels retail locations and select Metrolinx GO Transit stations throughout the GTA (with more to come in 2021); Canada’s first contactless one-stop-shop for self-serve package drop-off and pick-up service at the Atrium on Bay retail and office complex in downtown Toronto

Parcel lockers at its busiest terminals for 24/7 shipment pickup and to increase consumer convenience and safety

Curbside pick-up service at 51 Purolator Shipping Centers and 135 Michaels stores across the country

Purolator expects to process 46 million packages, roughly a 20 per cent increase over 2019, between November 1 to December 24.

On Black Friday, the company processed 1.3 million pieces of packages, up by 25% over 2019 and 6.7 million more pieces the week of Cyber Monday. On its busiest day of the year, Nov. 30, the company expects to process 1.4 million pieces, almost 20 per cent more than in 2019.

Purolator’s five-year, $1B delivering the future growth and innovation plan, accelerated during the pandemic to meet the needs of Canadians. The company has added 2,500 to its workforce of 12,000 leading up to holiday season and is continuing to make key investments to service increased demand in the long term.