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Transportation

Japan's Sagawa to electrify entire minicar delivery fleet by 2030

Courier aims for 10% emissions cut to woo consumers and investors

Mock-up of a Sagawa electric minicar under development: Delivering packages via conventional trucks or minicars is extremely carbon intensive. (Photo courtesy of Sagawa)

TOKYO -- Japan's SG Holdings, operator of the Sagawa Express courier service, looks to switch all of its roughly 7,000 minicars to electric models by 2030 with the goal of reducing carbon emissions more than 10%.

Sagawa is the first big Japanese delivery company planning a move to an all-electric fleet of kei minicars, which are used frequently to navigate residential areas with narrow roads. They account for about 20% of Sagawa's delivery vehicles.

The change was driven partly by recent developments in electric minicars. The transportation company will adopt a new model jointly established with Japanese startup ASF, featuring a boxy frame with ample cargo space in the rear and a design that makes it easy to unload packages.

ASF expects to complete a prototype of the new car by around spring. It could start selling the model to other logistics providers once the vehicle is launched for commercial use.

Sagawa owned nearly 27,000 vehicles at the end of March 2020, of which around 4,000 were hybrids or powered by natural gas but just 19 were fully electric. Most of its minicars are leased, and the company expects to limit the cost of its electric switch to about the same level as its current contracts.

Delivering packages by auto is a carbon-intensive business. Sagawa's shipping operations directly generated about 280,000 tons of carbon dioxide in fiscal 2019.

Package senders and recipients -- as well as investors -- have begun paying closer attention to environmental, social and governance issues, as has Japan's government, which aims for all new vehicles to be electrified by 2035. Other delivery companies, including Yamato Holdings, have set out plans for a partial switch to electrics.

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