Marc van Ravensteijn was a long-time owner of business that built hearses; he is now applying his knowledge of specialist vehicles to solving an entirely different “last mile” problem – that of finding greener and more efficient solutions for the so-called last mile of the supply chain, which refers to the final stretch of transporting goods to the home.
“Nowadays, everyone is able to order whatever they need on the internet. As a consequence, every order needs to be delivered directly to the front door, instead of to a central hub. Subsequently, various transportation challenges emerge”, Van Ravensteijn says.
He set up Last Mile Vehicle with partner Bart Seelen, describing it as destined to play a pivotal role in a network of technology, logistics and automotive partners who want to innovate and focus on sustainable entrepreneurship.
“Bart and I both come from the automotive industry, which is very conservative and where people can be stuck in their ways. We are looking for partners who think differently and who can help us find solutions, which is why we chose to base the business at the High Tech Campus. Here we will find people who have a deep understanding of technology, even though they may not have an understanding of vehicles. We have limited understanding of technology, but know how vehicles and the automotive industry work; so, together we can do anything.” He envisions doing this with an open-source, collaborative platform, where the complexity of the problem can be tackled using a range of disciplines and perspectives.
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Last Mile Vehicle is now working on building vehicles with climate control. Ravensteijn says existing options for climatised transport are limited, particularly if one is looking for an electric vehicle. The start-up is also partnering with a manufacturer in France, who is developing small, electric city vehicles with self-driving capability. A bicycle adapted for delivery is in the pipeline, too. “It is important to be involved at the early stage of a development partnership, to ensure that you can shape the process and the outcome.”
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In a sense, he says, Last Mile Vehicle is too early to market: while there is a strong demand for sustainable and efficient solutions to the last-mile delivery conundrum, the solution doesn’t yet exist. “But we also see it as being right on time: the market is seeking this type of solution, and we are here to develop it.”