The UK Royal Mail Goes Green

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Royal Mail Logo on Electric Van
Royal Mail electric van outside EDF’s Exeter offices. Image provided to CleanTechnica by EDF.

In the UK we have many traditions going back for centuries. Just as we have a Royal Navy dating back to Tudor times, we also have the Royal Mail dating back to those times — 1512 to be precise. Though, it was indeed royal back then, in the sense of being for the exclusive use of Henry VIII and his agents for matters of state. Charles II, the Stuart king, established the General Post Office as a public service in 1660. Though, it was not until 1840 that the first adhesive postage stamp, the Penny Black, was introduced, giving us the kind of postal service we are used to today.

The word “mail” comes from the Medieval English word “male,” referring to a traveling bag or pack. The early postal service would have been conducted by men on horseback or stage coaches carrying letters in such a bag, which was where the association between letters and the word “mail” arose.

Like all traditions, good or bad, they become “updated.” So, under a Tory, neoliberal government with a mania for privatizing everything they possibly can and an aversion to publicly owned services, the Royal Mail was privatized on 15th October 2013. Though “royal” no more, in any sense, the new private company retained the name.

The Big Bright Green Delivery Machine

I do not know if US readers are familiar with the much loved cartoon character Postman Pat, but according to the song, Postman Pat, with his black-and-white cat, early in the morning, just as day is dawning, is on his way to deliver the post. Also, according to the song, everybody knows his bright red van, but his friends in the village of Greendale might be in for a shock, as his new van might be bright green instead.

In the UK, bright red has been a traditional color for everything from London buses and telephone boxes to post boxes, and “Royal Mail” has retained the bright red background with gold letters that everyone knows so well as its signature color. Now, as can be seen in the pictures provided to CleanTechnica, the change to electric vehicles (EVs) has also heralded a major departure from the traditional red, as now they wish to impress on everyone their new green credentials with the change of color to bright green. Postman Pat will drive by and no one will notice, as his van will be so quiet and not the well loved and easily recognized bright red van as immortalized in the song.

Royal Mail Electric Van Outside EDF’s Exeter Offices
Royal Mail electric van outside EDF’s Exeter offices. Image provided to CleanTechnica by EDF.

French “Invasion”

I think it might be the French influence, as Royal Mail has signed a deal with EDF, the French energy giant, to deliver EV infrastructure. It must be one last EU plot to interfere in British sovereignty by imposing bright green post vans on us all. The vans themselves might also be French, as the one in the picture is a Peugeot Partner.

EDF is the largest producer of electricity in the EU, creating around 20% of the European Union’s electricity, but they are involved in all areas related to electricity, including EV infrastructure. Over the course of 3 years, EDF will provide charging points and all associated maintenance and ancillary items, such as signs, bollards, and wheel stops, at the charging stations. EDF are starting with chargers installed on Royal Mail sites in the South East of England, expanding from there as required.

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Vive La Révolution EV

Royal Mail is committed to increasing sustainability, and reducing their carbon footprint. The adoption of EVs across the business will play a key part in achieving those goals. As the company with one of the largest vehicle fleets in the UK, this is a good step forward to helping the UK achieve its goal of zero carbon by 2050, and shows the way for other companies to follow.

Philippe Commaret, Managing Director for Customers at EDF, says: “The fact that the largest fleet operator in Europe has committed to such an ambitious project is a turning point in our journey to a low-carbon future. Working with Royal Mail to install EV infrastructure at their UK sites will allow them to accelerate towards an electric future, and hopefully inspire other businesses to follow suit.”

Paul Gatti, Fleet Director at Royal Mail Group, says: “As we continue to realize our EV ambitions, we are careful to choose the right partners along the journey. We chose to work with EDF Energy – not just as a supplier – but also as a solutions partner to implement our new sustainability strategy. Over the three years we are confident that, alongside EDF Energy, we can deliver the infrastructure needed to power Europe’s largest commercial fleet of EVs.”

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Andy Miles

As a child, I had the unrealistic expectation that I would learn about, and understand, absolutely everything during the course of growing up. Now, at the other end of life, I am fully aware of how much I have not learnt and do not understand, and yet, I remain interested in everything. My education, starting with an arts degree and going on to postgraduate studies in everything from computer science to hypnotism reflected my broad interests. For 20 years, I worked in local government. I am now retired, living in North Leicestershire in the UK, with plenty of time for doing whatever I like. I have always had a keen interest in everything alternative, which includes renewable energy and energy efficiency and, of course, electric vehicles. So, naturally, I have taken ownership of an EV, now that they are affordable and practical forms of transport. Writing is also one of my great pleasures, so writing about EVs and environmental issues is a natural evolution for me. You can find my work on EV Obsession, and CleanTechnica, and you can also follow me on twitter.

Andy Miles has 49 posts and counting. See all posts by Andy Miles