Tiny Urban Train Can Deliver Your Pizza, Save the World (video)

Delivery and courier services are some of the cornerstones of our civilization – whether it’s the pony express, snail mail, UPS, or Dominos Pizza, the idea that we, as individuals, can receive physical goods from “out there” is something most of us take for granted. American delivery businesses, for the most part, run on oil, and represent a huge slice of the “where oil goes” pie – making the price of oil a critical part of a fleet manager’s budget plans and delivery/trucking businesses (as a whole) a critical part of any alternative energy solution …

… but you’re a Gas 2 reader, and you already know about that (because you’re so clever and attractive!). What you may not know about is are some of the different ways some countries are using solar power to help cope with the logistical problems of moving goods through a major city.

Over in the Netherlands, the Hoek company has a developed a new kind of delivery vehicle that will help cities improve their air quality, and give shops and retailers within the city the ability to effectively place (and ship) smaller orders more profitably. It’s called the CarGoHopper, and it is – if nothing else – very different from the gas-guzzling medium-duty vans you’re used to seeing clogging up the right turn lanes here in the US.

The CarGoHopper is a sort of “electric delivery train” of small trailers, steered at the front by a small electric truck (similar to an NEV) that can pull a number of those trailers behind it along a predetermined route, with enough flexibility built into the CarGoHopper’s design to allow local businesses to add (or remove) fully-loaded (or fully empty) trailers on-site, a huge time-saver that allows the same vehicle to take on more routes in a given day than a conventional delivery truck. In addition to being fueled by “fully sustainable” solar energy, the CarGoHopper is such a time saver that, according to Hoek, one such train can replace 5 to 8 regular delivery trucks in an urban setting.

Check it out in action, below.

With widespread adoption and the (potential) removal of so many large, slow-moving vehicles from the road as that, the CarGoHopper design could significantly reduce traffic congestion and improve the fuel economy of the cars around them and the overall health of a city’s residents by simply reducing their need to sit in traffic behind large, idling diesel trucks.

The CarGoHopper “engine” is powered by a 28 hp, high-torque motor that pulls the vehicle along at a brisk “cycling” pace (more than enough for urban areas like NYC and Chicago). Hoek predicts that each of its truck trains trains could represent a reduction in diesel fuel use by up to 20,000 liters each year, and cut CO2 emissions by up to 30 tons.

It’s also worth noting that the research (logistic and otherwise) was paid for by Hoek, who will presumably own all the process patents required to lock this idea down, ensuring a big payday if the cargo-train idea takes off … which, if the numbers add up, it probably will (since fleet managers are, of course, clever and attractive people who read Gas 2).

Good on Hoek, then.

Source | Photos:  Cargohopper, via Treehugger.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.