FedEx aims to go all-electric for deliveries - by 2040

FedEx is converting its fleet of pickup and delivery vehicles to all-electric – it just says it needs 19 years to do that. The vehicle electrification plan sees the logistics firm commit to carbon-neutral operations by 2040, with phased programs to swap out existing internal-combustion trucks and vans with zero-emission alternatives.

"By 2040, the entire FedEx parcel pickup and delivery (PUD) fleet will be zero–emission electric vehicles," the company says. "This will be accomplished through phased programs to replace existing vehicles. For example, by 2025, 50% of FedEx Express global PUD vehicle purchases will be electric, rising to 100% of all purchases by 2030."

FedEx has already shown hints of how that transition will work, inking an early deal with new GM business BrightDrop. The new electric logistics transportation division is building an EV light commercial vehicle, the EV600, which is expected to have a range of up to 250 miles on a charge, and over 600 cu-ft of cargo space in the back. FedEx has been running a pilot with BrightDrop's powered electric pallet, and plans to take delivery of the first 500 EV600 vans at the end of this year.

Still, that leaves plenty of work to do, and FedEx is giving itself plenty of time to do it in as well. One challenge is the company's air fleet, which it says it'll continue investing into alternative fuels in order to keep running. It's already been working on FedEx Fuel Sense and Aircraft Modernization programs, to update the cargo planes to cut CO2 emissions and reduce jet fuel consumption.

Meanwhile, there'll be upgrades to FedEx facilities – of which the company says there are more than 5,000 worldwide – to use things like renewable energy. Overall, FedEx says, it's expecting to spend more than $2 billion in initial investment into vehicle electrification, sustainable energy, and carbon sequestration.

$100 million of that will go to Yale University, to help form the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture. That's exploring ways to offset greenhouse gas emissions through methods of carbon sequestration.

It's not the only delivery company looking to electrification, of course. USPS recently revealed the design for its new fleet, with support for EV drivetrains. Still, only a small percentage of the distinctive vans are actually expected to be pure-electric, with the rest sticking with gasoline. UPS, meanwhile, has been flirting with electric trucks too, including running pilots in the US and Europe.

Nonetheless, there's already skepticism about the timescales involved in these transitions, and just how impactful a near-20-year switchover from internal combustion to EVs will actually be. FedEx reportedly had around 77,800 vehicles in its Express fleet in 2020, meaning there's a huge way to go before its electric van purchases start to meaningfully replace its existing models.