Outspoken trial new electric vans

Our mission is to make urban areas nicer places to be through contributing to reducing congestion, air and noise pollution. For the past 12 years we’ve done this by using cargobikes.

Cargobikes are great for reducing emissions and helping to create more liveable cities but we also know that ‘active’ deliveries, are good for our riders’ health and ensure our clients have a smiley delivery rider arrive at their customer. Our staff love their work and tend to release frustration (being a courier can be a stressful job) through exercise. Our clients know that we are an extension of their business as this interaction is often the only face to their product.

Given this backdrop, we’ve been nervous about taking on electric vans. Here’s why we’ve decided to trial using an electric van in London, Cambridge and Glasgow:

Limitations. Cargobikes, as any vehicle, are limited by weight and volume of what they can carry. We focus on moving small packages around cities. Some of our customers have items that are too large for cargo bikes and in the past we’ve had to sub-contract these to a diesel van. By being able to do this ourselves in an electric van, we help to keep the overall pollution level lower.

Perception. When we talk to many potential customers, their first reaction is often ‘you could never do it in a bike’. Having a van means they don’t need to worry about how the items are carried – we can focus on using the most efficient zero emission vehicle.

Efficiency. If we have really large volumes to one area, the van can replace two or even 3 cargo trikes. As a business we have to utilise our staff the best we can. We ensure the right vehicle is used for the right job.

Mobile depot. A van can act as a mobile depot so riders don’t have to travel all the way back to our depot to re-load but go to the van at an agreed point to do this. We’ve found this combination to be particularly effective for heavy magazines, utilising the bikes for their speed and ability to access restricted areas while taking advantage of the van’s extra load capacity.

Of course an electric van isn’t all clean and if not utilised properly, still contributes to congestion. But at tailpipe, e-vans emit no harmful NOx emissions, they’re quiet and can help to improve urban areas. Our staff have enjoyed mixing driving and riding and love that they are still contributing to improving our cities.

We now have a van in our Cambridge, Glasgow and Waltham Forest (ZED) depots. We are committed and focused on ensuring we deliver positive change in the cities we work. We think electric vans will support our use of cargo bikes and ensure we have the greatest overall positive impact in our cities.