For city centre final mile delivery, e-cargo-bikes can be a very good way of improving delivery efficiency and cutting a logistics company’s overall CO2 emissions. Setting up an e-cargo-bike delivery operation isn’t just a case of buying 20 e-bikes and hiring a load of cycle couriers! As with all logistics business approaches there is some planning required to make a fleet efficient and effective.

Advantages of e-bikes

One e-bike can produce 98% less CO2e than a diesel van, and fleet-wide will considerably reduce Scope 1 emissions. Other ways that e-cargo-bikes can help your final mile delivery business include:

  • No road tax
  • No congestion charges
  • Reduced insurance costs
  • Parking is easier
  • Total cost of ownership is significantly lower

Given these advantages, there are some challenges involved in setting up ‘final yard delivery’:

UPS, DHL and FedEx have been looking at e-bike delivery for years

I interviewed Tom Madrecki, then-UPS Director of Urban Innovation and Mobility in 2018 for the Electric Bike Report. He said, “Bike delivery can be as efficient if not faster than van and truck delivery so long as it is in the right type of neighbourhood.”

In the interview he pointed out that denser and older urban environments are ideal for e-cargo-bike delivery. London, Boston (Massachusetts), Paris and Madrid spring to mind as cities that were built before combustion engine vehicles were invented. These have areas where parking is terrible and the alleys are unsuited to vans – but bikes can sail through and have no issues when needing to pull over to pick up or drop a package.

Westminster micro-hub

Earlier this year, London’s Westminster Council announced a pilot where e-cargo-bike couriers Delivery Mates use space at a public car park as a micro-hub. Electric vans deliver consignments of packages to the micro-hub and e-bikes take them the final yard to the delivery address.

Delivery Mates are among the fastest growing low emission final mile delivery companies in Europe. They have 3,000 couriers and make 100,000 deliveries daily in five countries.

Consolidation is key

Consolidation even without zero emission vehicles for the final mile has been proven to significantly reduce carbon emissions in its own right, and is often a key part of cutting Scope 1 emissions.

Delivery Mates’ rivals, Bristol based Zedify are a well established low emission delivery company with more than 15 hubs around the UK. Their website states that consolidation of consignments is key to successful final mile delivery: “Our [consolidation IT] platform is the key to us being able to plot dynamic routing and hit multiple timeslots throughout the day.”

Where traditional road freight consolidation involves cross-docking to other combustion engined vehicles, in this case the vehicle will become a hub in its own right. This is another issue that needs resolving in planning e-bike delivery.

A look at delivery vehicles

Almost the final thing to look at in planning a cargo-bike delivery service is the vehicles themselves. UK based Tern offers five-year warranties on their machines like the GSD range of e-cargo-bikes. Germany’s Riese & Müller might be described as the ‘Audis of the e-bike world’ with their brilliant engineering and high reliability. As with Tern’s e-cargo-bikes, a machine built for commercial use like the Riese & Müller Transporter 85 will cost £5,500 and up per unit.

Remembering that these vehicles will cost nowhere near the same as a van to maintain, insure or tax, these e-cargo-bikes could all but wipe out your final mile carbon emissions too. That’s no bad thing when it comes to looking for ways to decarbonise your delivery business!

Author: Richard Shrubb

Source: Ti Insight

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