Britain's Ocado turns to electric and pedal power for Zoom service

LONDON (Reuters) - Ocado Zoom, the rapid grocery delivery service owned by British online grocer Ocado Retail, has launched a trial of electric, electric assisted and pedal-powered vehicles as part of a target to become net zero carbon emissions by 2035, it said on Tuesday.

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Ocado Retail is a joint venture between Ocado Group and Marks & Spencer.

It has thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting fourth-quarter revenue growth of 35%, as the popularity of online grocery shopping has soared.

Industry data shows the online share of grocery spending has doubled from 7% before the crisis to about 14%. Shares in Ocado have more than doubled over the last year.

Ocado Zoom’s new vehicle trial started on Jan. 28 at its flagship site in Acton, west London. It said initial customer feedback has been “very positive”.

“This trial is an important step in what I hope will be a rapid expansion of our non-emitting fleet,” said George Dean, head of Ocado Zoom.

The vehicles’ refrigeration capabilities means they can travel up to 40 miles. More drop-offs during the same journey results in a more efficient delivery service and fewer vehicles on the roads.

Ocado said every delivery made in the zero-emission vehicles replaces the need for the use of a petrol van, car or moped.

Launched in 2019, the Ocado Zoom service allows customers to choose from a range of 10,000 products including fresh food, baked goods, frozen items and household items.

Customers can choose if they want a delivery as soon as possible or later that same day. Average delivery time is 40 minutes. Minimum order spend is 15 pounds and delivery typically costs 2.99 pounds.

Reporting by James Davey; editing by David Evans