Increase E-commerce can lower overall system VMT and energy

E-commerce is expected to generate a large increase in last-mile delivery of goods. However, after accounting for shopping trip reductions and vehicle technology changes, simulations show that there will be an overall net reduction in VMT (34–56%) and energy use (29–54%) across the Chicago metropolitan area. The e-commerce delivery rate is assumed to increase from one delivery per household per week in the current baseline to three per week in the near term, and five per week in the long term.

Because the average shopping trip is 7–8 miles long and shopping trips currently constitute approximately 7% of total VMT, there is substantial potential for VMT and energy to decrease if shopping trips are replaced by deliveries.

If household e-commerce deliveries triple in the short term compared to the base year, retail-based VMT could decrease by 31%, and retail-based energy consumption could decrease by 39–49%. Over the long term, if household e-commerce deliveries were to grow to five days per week, retail-based VMT and energy consumption could decline by 36–50% and 54–72%, respectively. The VMT savings are even greater when comparing the future to their respective baselines.

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