UPS is testing out a new tiny electric delivery van, though calling it a “van” is a bit of a stretch. Technically considered a quadricycle, it’s basically a highly efficient van-shaped four-wheeled electric bike that can make urban deliveries in crowded areas.
The vehicle is known as an eQuad and is built by the company Fernhay.
The manufacturer refers to it as a “four-wheeled e-assist cycle,” and says that it is designed for pickups and deliveries in places where a typical large delivery vans would be overkill or couldn’t reach.
Measuring a slim 84 cm (33 inches) wide, the little eQuad can slip through nearly any area a bicycle can, making last-mile deliveries quicker and more efficient.
The entire vehicle is less than 3 meters (10 feet) long, and most of that length is storage space. The “Cube” system that Fernhay uses consists of a 1.8 meter (6 feet) long cargo box on back.
Powering the eQuad is a drivetrain similar to those seen in electric cargo bicycles. There’s a typical bicycle seat and handlebar setup, with an electric assist system that kicks in the power when the riders begins pedaling.
Despite its striking appearance compared to conventional electric cargo bikes, the eQuad is designed to share the bike lane with other cyclists. As the company explained, “a low load area and high seat allow for our operator as well as fellow cyclists to see around or over the eQuad.”
UPS is now trialing 100 of Fernhay’s eQuads for package deliveries in several EU markets with plans to expand that testing into the US, according to Reuters.
This won’t be the first time UPS has turned to electric cargo bikes for creative urban delivery solutions. Even more creative solutions have involved UPS’s plans to purchase large electric drones for package delivery.
In this case though, UPS is keeping its wheels firmly on the ground with the eQuads. And those wheels will be rolling at up to 25 km/h (15 mph), which is the electronically limited top speed of the electric four-wheelers.
Considering they can carry loads of up to 200 kg (440 lb), that relatively slow speed is probably a good idea.
Onboard battery capacity combined with good old-fashioned sweat labor should push the range of the eQuad to around 65 km (40 miles), making this an ideal delivery vehicle for local neighborhood routes.
We’ve previously seen several delivery companies including Amazon and DHL, testing electric cargo bikes for urban deliveries, though they are usually three-wheeled electric trikes.
These eQuads push mini-EV package delivery to a new level with increased stability, higher load capacity, and improved utility.
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