The Yamato delivery company (colloquially referred to as kuro neko – black cat) is the most prominent of Japan’s home delivery companies that provide convenient and cheap to-door parcel services throughout Japan. They even have a ku-ru bin (refrigerated delivery service), by which grandparents living back in the countryside can send care packages of home-grown fruit and veg to their city-dwelling offspring.
Yamato run literally thousands of vehicles, many of which are the small trucks that spend the day puttering around narrow neighborhood streets to stop and drop off parcels at every other house. With most of these minitrucks doing mileage in the 30 kilometer range every day, they are the perfect candidates for electrification.
Since the MINICAB-MiEV can get 100 kilometers of range out of a single charge, Yamato employees will only need to charge their vehicles every other day, and they will also be able to use cheaper of-peak electricity by charging at night, which will also help reduce the strain on the local power companies. Presumably, it would not be too much of a stretch for the local parcel depots to be fitted with solar panels to make these deliver trucks even more green.
And this is exactly what Yamato is doing with its order for 100 MINICAB‐MiEV electric vehicles from Mitsubishi. This electric model has been on the market since April 1st this year, and deliveries are going to start at the end of the year with 30 coming into use in 2011, and the remainder in 2012. They will mainly be used in the Tokyo, Haneda and Kyoto areas – urban environments ideally suited to this kind of vehicle. The decision to move ahead with this order was as a result of a joint trial with Mitsubishi that started last year.
When a big player like Yamato makes a move like this, you can be sure that other companies with similar needs will be watching closely and getting ready to make their moves also.
Perhaps in the future it won’t be “kuro neko” anymore, but “midori neko” – green cat?