UPS Tries ‘eQuad’ Electric Bicycles for In-City Deliveries

LONDON – UPS said Friday it was trialling a four-wheel “eQuad” electric cargo bike for deliveries in densely populated urban areas, where bicycles are better and more easily accessible, to complement pressures on electric vehicles.

The parcel delivery giant is testing about 100 of its electric bicycles, designed and built by British company Fernhay, in seven European markets and will also launch tests in the United States and some Asian markets, Luke Wake, UPS vice president of fleet maintenance and engineering, told Reuters .

UPS said it would also use four-wheel electric bicycles from other manufacturers for the trials, but did not disclose names.

In addition to public commitments to reduce their carbon footprint, parcel delivery companies are looking for new ways to lower the cost of last-mile deliveries, given surging e-commerce orders.

UPS’s eQuad has an electrically assisted top speed of about 25 kilometers per hour (15.5 miles per hour) – pedaling hard can help you go faster – and can carry up to 200 kilograms (441 lb) of packages. The electric battery has a range of approximately 64 km, which Wake says would be more than sufficient for urban routes.

The vehicle is only 36 inches (91 cm) wide, so it is legal to use bike lanes and enter pedestrian areas that UPS’s vans and trucks cannot access. Under normal circumstances, drivers would have to get out of their vehicles, load packages onto carts and tow them to customers.

UPS’ Wake said the Atlanta-based company sees an opportunity to scale up the use of its bicycles in megacities and expand its range of vans and trucks.

“There are increasing opportunities for zero-emission solutions like these that can reduce inner-city congestion,” Wake said as he demonstrated the eQuad at a UPS parcel facility in London. “It can also make our operations more efficient at the same time.”

Rivals FedEx and Deutsche Post unit DHL are also experimenting with electric cargo bikes as part of their own zero-emission vehicle plans.

UPS has partnered with electric van manufacturers such as UK startups Arrival and Tevva, plus US truck manufacturer Xos.