How e-cargo bikes could influence DPD’s urban delivery approach

Earlier this month, parcel delivery company DPD announced it had taken delivery of the first ten EAV P1 electric-assist cargo bikes, the result of a partnership with Oxford-based manufacturer EAV.

Five of the unique bio-mechanical hybrid electric-assisted pedal bikes are currently being tested on the streets of London, York and Newbury, while the other five are being shipped to DPD business units in Ireland, Spain, Germany, Portugal and France to help support British manufacturing and exporting abroad.

“We wanted to deploy an electrically-assisted cargo bike,” DPD’s general manager – CSR, Rob Fowler said. “I think we’ve looked at the range of models available, not just in the UK but across Europe, and we couldn’t find something that we considered safe enough for both the driver, from a stability point of view, and secure enough for our parcels.

“We wanted to ensure that the driver was protected against inclement weather as well. If you have to ride in one of these for a long time in winter, you want to make sure that the driver has a degree of comfort.

“It’s also things like brake lights, indicators and LED lights that make sure the drivers’ experiences are safe. If you look at the long cargo bikes available in the market now, I’m not convinced that they’re a very safe way of working. I also have doubts about the stability of three-wheel bikes, when you’ve got 150kg in the back.”

DPD, which launched the UK’s first all-electric parcel depot in Westminster in October, has worked with EAV from the outset as a technical partner. The e-cargo bike was announced at the eBike Summit in April this year.

The purpose-built, quadricycle measures 2m long by 1m wide, weighs 75kg and can carry a 120kg payload. The 250-watt motor helps the rider accelerate to a maximum of 15mph. The P1 can cover a range of up to 60 miles in a day and over 100 parcel stops and then be recharged using a normal 13amp, 240v plug socket.

The bike’s body is made from advanced composites which include the latest fully recyclable materials, for example; the fascia is made from a composite strengthened with hemp fibres stuck together with a resin-based on the oil from cashew nutshells. The EAV P1 is part of DPD’s aim is to be the most responsible city centre delivery company and the leader in electric vehicles in the UK.

“We’ve had a lot of interest,” Fowler continues. “It looks and feels completely different to a bike, but it is still a bike, which I think is quite interesting. For performance, we’ve done our testing up and down the hills and round long distances and it’s been absolutely fine. So all in all, it’s been a really good experience so far.

“I think there’s absolutely a marketplace for it. EAV has had a lot of interest and it’s developing other models within the range, which will open itself up to more and more customers.

“The bikes work really well in a city centre. They’re not particularly demanding on infrastructure, which is quite significant.”

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