Courier returns to pedals to deliver parcels cheaply
THE world’s largest package delivery company, United Parcel Service (UPS), has started delivering using electrically-assisted tricycles.
UPS anticipates this eBike prototype could become a component of its delivery capabilities in some cities across the U.S.
The deployment of the eBike is part of UPS’s ongoing commitment to reduce carbon emissions as city populations and e-commerce grow, and traffic, noise and air quality challenges continue to rise. “Early in our 109-year history, UPS operated as a bike messenger company,” said Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice-president global engineering and sustainability.
“While we have evolved and developed a vast network of ground and air vehicles, the bicycle may be making a comeback as we navigate through crowded urban areas and continue our focus on environmental sustainability.”
The success of this pilot programme was first demonstrated in 2012 in collaboration with the city of Hamburg, Germany. It focused on developing a new and sustainable method of delivering goods to urban areas. UPS placed four containers at central locations in the city for interim storage of packages for UPS service providers. From these points, deliveries were made on foot or with specialised bicycles called “Cargo Cruisers” — UPS’s electronically-assisted tricycles. These alternate delivery solutions helped ease traffic congestion and reduce emissions each working day. Due to the success of the pilot, the Hamburg programme was extended in February 2015 for another two years. That model serves as a guidepost for the company’s new programme in Portland, Oregon. The eBike is equipped with batterypowered electric motors that makes it possible to cover further distances, carry substantial loads, and navigate hills and other terrain.
Maximum energy efficiency is achieved when combining battery power and human power simultaneously. The eBike can be operated solely on battery power or pedal power.
During the testing phase, UPS will evaluate the reliability, design, integration to the city’s infrastructure and acceptance of the vehicle. If successful, UPS envisions additional eBike deployment and testing in 2017.
By the end of 2016, UPS will have invested more than $750 million in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles and fueling stations globally since 2009.
Using its “Rolling Laboratory” approach, UPS deploys more than 7 700 low-emission vehicles to determine what works best in each situation, from old-fashioned pedal power to electric and hybrid electric vehicles and natural gas engines.
Electrically assisted tricycles have proven successful to deliver parcels in Europe, and are now being deployed in Portland, U.S.