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  • Writer's pictureTee Blackwood

Save 80% emissions and €0.5Bn with cargo bike fleet switch, says logistics study


Evri delivery van parked next to ePack delivery bike.
Evri delivery van parked next to ePack delivery bike.

A further study of the efficiency of pivoting logistics fleets to a heavier weighting on the cargo bike versus electric vans has concluded that a business handling 2 billion parcels annually could save as much as €0.55 billion by 2030 and 80% of its emissions.An ‘optimised’ mix of 80% electric cargo bikes and 20% e-vans (compared to an 100% electric van fleet) would result in the stunning savings, so says the new EIT InnoEnergy research paper.


Save big: The economic case for the cargo bike

In the headline findings we’re told that the cost per parcel delivery comes down, regardless of the city layout. A baseline case, working on the assumption of a 60% share for e-cargo bikes in the fleet, sees a cost reduction per unit of €0.05 versus an 100% van fleet. However, that figure improves over time to reach €0.20 per parcel saved by 2030. Extrapolate that over a 2 billion parcel annual load and the savings tot up to be worth €95 million in 2023 and €390 million by 2030.For logistics giants, the primary goals of upping efficiency, reducing the cost and time per delivery and all the while chopping into emissions is the holy grail. The UK’s Royal Mail, for example, has a nationwide fleet of over 50,000 vans on the road, which have increasingly found themselves held up by traffic and, more frequently, the costs associated with doing business in areas that are introducing clean air schemes to protect residents against dangerous and illegal levels of pollution.


What’s causing all the traffic? Well the trend toward online shopping has prompted vans to become the UK’s fastest growing traffic type, all the while the number of cars on the road has doubled since the 1990s from 20 million then to over 40 million now. A further 10 million are expected on the road in the next decade. In the EU, e-commerce has driven parcel volume up by between 8 and 14% annually. Now, in an optimised scenario, whereby the researchers suggest an 80% inner city cargo bike fleet, the savings figures start to become game-changing to company overheads. With just another fifth of the inner city fleet dedicated to cargo bikes logistics firms could save 5.3% per parcel now and 17%, or €0.28 per delivery by 2030. €554 million saved, in other words. So, with traffic growing, but streets staying the same size, efficiency in moving people and parcels has been in ever greater focus. So great is the problem for logistics firms you’ll now note that Amazon, DHL and many more major freight operators are investing millions into more agile cargo bikes to be deployed inside city centres.Surely though you’ll need more e-cargo bikes than vans to do the same work? Well, yes and no. Though your typical electric cargo bike will have a 40% lower capacity than a van, it has a 40% efficiency gain, on average. Personnel costs are estimated to be only 4% to 16% higher overall, balancing all factors. You can load an electric cargo bike to the brim with small parcels, while vans are harder to pack to capacity in the same way meaning much of the volume inside is no more than air. Cargo bike riders save time on parking and thus walking to their destination, plus they can take shorter, less congested routes to their destination.


ePack cargo bike pictured in London, Southwark
ePack cargo bike pictured in London, Southwark


Now this new body of research furthers an already well-documented idea that larger vehicles should be the reserve of major arteries to the edge of urban spaces and smaller, more agile vehicles should do the inner city deliveries. It’s fair to say, lorries and large vans in town centres have scarcely been desirable or functional, especially when speed is incentivised.Jennifer Dungs, EIT InnoEnergy’s Global Head of Mobility says ‘Logistics providers today are dealing with many simultaneous challenges: rising parcel volumes, stricter city regulations, and the need to save costs in a low-margin business. This study demonstrates that e-cargo bikes are not only a sustainable way to address these challenges, but also cost-competitive and viable for major logistics players – already today, and even more so by 2030.’


The report also writes that, where applicable, electric cargo bike leasing costs are 60% lower than the same for an electric van.


ePack delivery bike parked next to electric Evri delivery van
ePack delivery bike parked next to electric Evri delivery van

Save cities from emissions with cargo bike switch

The case for cargo bikes versus electric vans has been made based on the use of rare earth metals used in batteries often. It’s said that, on average, an electric car’s battery-clad chassis uses 200 times that of an electric bike’s typical requirement. Often they’ll carry the same single person.When it comes to carriage of cargo the subject comes ever-more into focus with corporate responsibility in play. With that in mind the emissions of the aforementioned scenario were calculated to be up to 80% lower in Europe’s 100 largest cities, all the while taking 120,000 vans out of the congested urban space.Versus the 100% van fleet, the study says that mixed fleets with cargo bikes weighted heavier save the equivalent of up to 850 households’ worth of annual energy consumption, per city. In compiling the report forecasts from Euromonitor, Transport Intelligence, the IMF and McKinsey were used.


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1 Comment


Lutte Kikker
Lutte Kikker
May 15

The Cityshuttle would be an amazing solution for tiny houses on wheels. For those that need a place to sleep, work and travel but don't need a lot of space. Or Bikecamping 2.0!

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