Forget the 30-kilometer zone. In the future, cities will change their infrastructure in favor of the bicycle. The car will slowly but surely disappear from the streetscape. At least that is the prediction of several founders of start-ups that are producing a new type of light electric vehicle. It is not a car, but it is not a bicycle or scooter, either. Generally speaking, there are still no traffic rules for this type of vehicle. But it does solve a problem that particularly affects city dwellers: those irritating delivery trucks that park on the sidewalk right in front of your house to deliver packages. Or those who simply turn on their blinker and park right on the main road, creating a traffic jam.
During The Business Booster, an innovation fair for start-ups in which EIT InnoEnergy invests, Spanish start-up Scoobic presented a solution reminiscent of a Flintstones car: a vehicle that is sort of a cross between an electric bike and a car that can simply drive on the bike path, according to CTO Pablo Marfil.
Contract with Amazon
It can transport packages in the back in a large cargo box, either high or wide in shape. Scoobic has signed a contract with the American e-commerce giant Amazon for the delivery of goods ordered via the Internet using this vehicle. The company already has contracts with postal companies La Poste in France and Correos in Spain as well.
The advantage? No exhaust fumes. And parcels are delivered much faster, according to the manufacturer, than with a traditional truck that runs the risk of getting trapped in the narrow streets of city centers like in Seville. There the vehicle was tried out by delivering kegs of Estrella Galicia beer to bars, for example. One application that had not been foreseen but is now convenient is to equip the vehicle with disinfectant spray arms. This can be used to make street furniture and fencing virus-free.
The vehicle from the German start-up ONO (not to be pronounced oh, no!) also fits into this category. This electric bicycle cargo vehicle can carry up to 300 kilos. It is now in production and is already sold out through the summer of 2021. Customers include food delivery services such as Hello Fresh, which brings their customers a daily or weekly package of fresh vegetables for their evening meal. But ONO can also be used for more industrial applications such as delivering paint or building components. They already have contracts with companies such as paint manufacturer Brillux.
ONO plans to conquer Amsterdam by 2030. But experience shows that this could happen even earlier. Like the shared bicycle and shared scooter, ONO’s vehicle can be rented by companies for relatively short-term use. Introduction in cities like Paris and Copenhagen is planned for 2022 and 2025. In Madrid, they should start operating around as early as this year.
Eftelingization of the city by parcel trains
The Efteling metamorphosis of the infrastructure of cities with these kinds of cute little soundless, emission-free vehicles is completed by a series of mini-trucks from the start-up Ducktrain. The Ducktrain is electric, rechargeable and consists of several robotic carts that follow like little ducklings behind the mother duck that in turn follows a cyclist with a transmitter.
If there are not many parcels to be delivered, just one trolley follows behind the cyclist. But it can also be five. This is convenient since instead of five drivers (one for each cart) only one is needed. This way a train of parcels can drive through the city.
Ducktrain’s robot cars can also be used in industry to transport parts and raw materials within a factory environment. Sales of the first generation of Ducktrains will begin in 2021.
See also the previous installments of this series:
‘Stop subsidizing oil companies’
Ocean waves and gigantic magnifying glasses should facilitate energy transition
Your home can be turned into an energy factory thanks to the energy transition
Cheap car batteries that last 30 years could back up the energy grid
The Business Booster (TBB) is an annual two-day networking event for start-ups developing products to generate or use CO2-free energy and is an initiative of EIT InnoEnergy. EIT InnoEnergy is a joint agency of the European Commission and private entrepreneurs to invest in companies that help to achieve the Paris climate goals and to work, live and work carbon neutrally by 2050.