Examples of the purolator vehicles
Purolator’s last-mile solution: electric cargo bikes and low-speed delivery EVs. Source: Purolator

The logistics firm is adding to its modest fleet of electric cargo bikes and will begin testing three low-speed electric vehicles to better serve customers and reduce its carbon footprint in the cities’ dense downtown cores

Purolator is making good on a promise to deliver more sustainable last-mile delivery solutions in two major Canadian cities by introducing new electric vehicles to its fleet. Montreal will see three electric cargo bikes added to the network (up from two already in circulation), as well as one compact, low-speed delivery truck. In Toronto, the company is piloting two of the new low-speed trucks as a way to improve deliveries in the city’s busy downtown. 

“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 Purolator president and CEO John Ferguson in a statement announcing the upgrades.

Growth in e-commerce has had a profound impact on city streets with delivery trucks taking up significant space on already dense roadways. The problem has gotten worse since the onset of COVID-19. In that time, Purolator says residential drop-offs have increased by 50 per cent, including in pedestrian-only or limited access areas. It says the electric bikes and EVs will help alleviate some of the congestion issues surrounding deliveries and give the company more flexibility to navigate these types of situations.

Bike tests began last year

Purolator driver and new EV
Purolator’s low-speed electric vehicle for delivery in busy urban centres. Source: CNW Group/Purolator Inc.

Purolator began its electric cargo bike service in Montreal in 2019 as a partner in a city-run last-mile delivery project. Their initial success prompted the company to expand the program. The bikes can take advantage of the city’s extensive network of bike paths and riders can park them on sidewalks for deliveries in areas with restricted parking. The bikes can go a full day on a single charge and are housed in Canada’s first urban distribution centre, opened in partnership with the city. Along with the bikes, Purolator is also testing out automated self-serve lockers at an east end subway station as an alternative last-mile solution.

The low-speed electric vehicles are being tested in both cities. They are 100-per-cent battery-powered, have an 80-kilometre range at speeds between 32 to 40 kilometres per hour and can carry 80 packages.

According to a company spokesperson, each vehicle can replace an average fuel-powered truck, providing the same operating performance while reducing GHG emissions by 24 metric tonnes of CO2 per year. Other benefits include being much quieter than standard delivery trucks while taking up less than half the space, making deliveries more efficient. 

Purolator already operates 323 hybrid-electric vehicles in other parts of its operations. It has pledged to put $1 billion towards sustainability and innovation as part of its commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.