Carbon-fibre body-builder Penso is on track to double capacity at its Coventry production line as demand for its lightweight Blue Ocean home delivery pods ramps up.
Following a bumper order from supermarket Asda earlier this year, Penso has seen a surge of enquiries from logistics companies looking to maximise payload as they seek to handle record consumer demand for home deliveries.
Manufactured from a blend of carbon fibre and recycled plastic, the triple-compartment ultra-lightweight pods are said to be able to transport approximately the same weight of goods in two journeys that a traditional vehicle carries in three.
This significantly reduces road miles and fuel costs, cuts CO2 and NOx emissions and means more drops can be completed per load, helping to meet increased customer demand.
“Obviously home delivery at the moment, during Covid, has been growing exponentially,” said MD Daniel Hurcombe.
“And even before the pandemic, it was roughly 10% compound annual growth every year for the sector. Which was in a way what gave us the confidence to say we can break into this sector because it is growing at such a speed that there is room for new players.”
The company has specialised in manufacturing lightweight carbon fibre products for motorsport, aerospace and rail for more than a decade now, but its latest diversification into the logistics sector is on track to comprise 50% of turnover if the current growth rate continues.
“There is definitely an appetite from the road transport sector. Looking from a pipeline perspective, we have orders going through until next summer now.
“But obviously we are the new kids on the block, so we have to temper our excitement and make sure we walk rather than run.”
Right now, Penso has capacity to build around 25-30 units per week, and will invest in its manufacturing facility next year to boost volumes.
It is focusing at present on the two-man delivery sector until Christmas, with plans to extend its grocery offering early next year and moving into the parcels domain by the second half of 2021.
One of the key attractions to forward-thinking delivery firms is the Penso pods’ ability to be switched between different drivetrains.
“As we were designing and developing the vehicle, we needed to look at future-proofing it and obviously as the market changes over the next five years we’ll see electrification become one of the largest topics,” said Hurcombe.
“But it all has to evolve together, so the infrastructure has to be there to support the new products. From our side, we’ve worked with our customers to enable the pods to be transposed between different drivetrains. So if it was diesel or petrol or electric, it would work.”
The 3.5-tonne sector will remain Penso’s focus for the near-term, however the business is confident it will begin to move up the weights within a year or two, expanding first into the 7.5-tonne domain.
This expansion in product weight and diversification into different segments of the home delivery sector is key to the company’s continued growth, believes Hurcombe.
“In the end, there are already some well-established players in the market, so it would be naive of us to think we could just jump in and take huge market share,” he said.
“But equally, we have developed a modular product which is flexible. A modular production line which is also flexible and this enables us to build everything from a refrigerated vehicle through to a very high payload panel van to a very large Luton van.”
He added: “There are a lot of bodybuilders that build boxes to go on the back of vehicles. From our side we don’t know of anyone else doing it in carbon fibre and as a consequence, I don’t think anybody else comes close to our payload.”
Looking outside the UK is also on the horizon for Penso, with key export markets expected to be France and Germany to begin with, as European frontrunners in home delivery just behind the UK.
All of Penso’s vehicles were engineered to achieve European Whole Vehicle Type Approval.
“We have an aspiration to get up to 10,000 vehicles per year,” said Hurcombe. “In order to do that, we’ll have to invest and penetrate new markets. This would be over a five-to-10 year timeline.”
Carbon-fibre body-builder Penso is on track to double capacity at its Coventry production line as demand for its lightweight Blue Ocean home delivery pods ramps up. Following a bumper order from supermarket Asda earlier this year, Penso has seen a surge of enquiries from logistics companies looking to maximise payload as they seek to handle record consumer demand for home deliveries. Manufactured from a blend of carbon fibre and recycled plastic, the triple-compartment ultra-lightweight pods are said to be able […]
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