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Ford trails last-mile delivery service in London


Ford is currently trialling a new “warehouse on wheels” delivery service in London.

The concept – in partnership with Gnewt by Menzies Distribution – will efficiently coordinate multiple modes of transport including pedestrian and – one day – bicycle couriers. It is also designed to be compatible both with Ford vans and those of other manufacturers. These vans then act as dynamic delivery hubs that collect orders from a depot and then briefly stop at strategic locations determined to be the most efficient for each batch of orders.

Ford’s proprietary software platform coordinates with nearby foot couriers – or potentially with bicycle couriers, drones and autonomous robots in the future – to fulfil the last leg of each delivery.

Gnewt is a sustainable urban parcel delivery service which operates one of the largest fully electric delivery fleets in the UK with more than 70 electric vans.

During the trial, Gnewt’s “last‑mile” delivery service will be driven by Ford’s intelligent cloud‑based, multi‑modal routing and logistics software MoDe:Link, that manages all aspects of parcel delivery from depot to doorstep. This could help couriers, fleet managers, logistics and food delivery companies optimise processes and increase van utilisation, saving time and money while boosting capacity.

The service could also improve customer experience by offering improved delivery windows and reducing costs, speeding time from order to delivery by enabling vans to make more frequent round trips back to the depot. In addition, it could contribute to healthier streets and reduced traffic in major cities, cutting congestion around valuable kerb space where vans typically load and unload.

“Our goal is to keep larger vehicles like delivery vans operating in the high‑load, less‑congested environments in which they perform best,” said Tom Thompson, project lead, Ford Mobility. “However, for the last mile of a journey into an urban area, where congestion and lack of parking can be a challenge, it makes sense to offload deliveries to more nimble, efficient and cost‑effective modes of transport.”

“Freight and deliveries are central to supporting London’s economy, with half of the value of the capital’s household expenditure relying on it,” said Michael Hurwitz, director of transport innovation, Transport for London. “However, congestion and poor air quality are some of the biggest challenges the city faces. More last‑mile deliveries made in this way, alongside the growth of micro‑consolidation centres, are essential to tackle the pollution problem and keeping the roads moving. Ford’s harnessing of technology to change the model for supplying homes and businesses should be applauded and is an example for others in the sector to follow.”