United Parcel Service is beginning an urban delivery test in Seattle that uses electric bicycles geared to carry packages in large preloaded boxes to save time and cut pollution.
The new project from UPS, which started in Seattle in 1907 as a bicycle messenger company, comes as deliveries of online purchases surge. UPS and its rivals — including FedEx — are also searching for ways to slash delivery costs and vehicle emissions.
UPS partnered with Silver Eagle Manufacturing and Truck Trikes to design the cargo eBike, which has a battery-powered electric motor, for the test, which begins on Nov. 5.
The bike hauls replaceable, 95-cubic-foot boxes that carry packages weighing up to 400 pounds, UPS said, adding that the trailer and replaceable container configuration of the bike is a U.S. first. The rider will pick up pre-loaded containers from a designated city parking spot and return them empty.
Using pre-loaded cargo boxes "wipes out" the double handling of packages and helps to shrink delivery costs, Scott Phillippi, UPS senior director for automotive maintenance and engineering for international operations, told Reuters.
UPS, the world's biggest package delivery company, already has walking and bicycle delivery projects in more than 30 cities, including Dublin, Rome, London and Pittsburgh. The company is also testing 9,300 low-emission vehicles around the world.
UPS, FedEx and Deutsche Post AG unit DHL face pressure from regulators around the world to lessen the environmental impact of their fleets.
Reporting by Lisa Baertlein