Cargohopper - Click above for image gallery
It may not be flashy – or an EU Star Wars vehicle with a similar name – but the Cargohopper is saving fuel over in the Dutch city of Utrect. This little electric train – pulled by a tractor that is powered by a 48 Volt 28 hp electric motor – can move three metric tons and "is able to do the work of 5 to 8 regular (European sized) vans." WIth all three trailers attached, the Cargohopper is 13 meters (43 feet) long. The Cargohopper can only go 20 kilometers an hour (12 mph), but that's OK because it is used solely as the last step of packages intended for downtown Utrect. The idea was based on tourist trains that look similar and are used in other European cities.
Here's how it works: On the outskirts of town, the trailer containers are loaded at operator Hoek's distrubution center and then brought to the border of the inner city via standard truck. From there, the EV loads the containers on its wheeled wagons and then trundles off to the shops where the goods are needed. On its way back to the outskirts for more goods, the Cargohopper carries recycling materials from businesses. The operators claim that the Cargohopper removes up to 100,000 Van kilometres from Utrect's inner city streets and saves about 30 tons of CO2 per year by displacing roughly 20,000 liters of diesel fuel. Not bad for a little train. Thanks to Stefan S. for the tip!