UPS Hybrid Electric eBike Comes To Portland, Oregon

UPS has begun using its hybrid eBike tricycle to make deliveries in Portland, Oregon. The eBike has a battery and an electric motor and can be operated on battery power or pedal power alone or a combination of both. “Early in our 109 year history, UPS operated as a bike messenger company,” says Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president global engineering and sustainability. “While we have evolved and developed a vast network of ground and air vehicles, the bicycle may be making a comeback as we navigate through crowded urban areas and continue our focus on environmental sustainability.”

UPS hybrid electric eBike

UPS is a leader in developing innovative strategies to make its business more sustainable. By the end of this year, UPS will have invested more than $750 million in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles and fueling stations around the world since 2009. Many of those vehicles are “rolling laboratories.” and UPS has 7,700 low emission vehicles in its test fleet. Its goal is to find out what vehicles work best in various situations.  Developing the eBike is part of the company’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions as city populations and e-commerce grow. Reducing congestion and noise in cities are also part of the company’s focus.

In addition to the eBike, UPS is evaluating vehicles that run on natural gas, renewable natural gas, and propane in various places around the world. One of its recent experiments involves plug-in hybrid electric delivery vans with powertrains provided by Workhorse. Those trucks operate solely on electric power but have a 2 cylinder range extender engine onboard to keep the battery charged and prevent drivers being stranded while making their rounds.

During the testing phase for the eBike, UPS will evaluate the reliability, design, integration to the city’s infrastructure, and acceptance of the vehicle. If successful, the company will expand its eBike testing program next year. It thinks the eBike prototype could become an important part of its delivery fleet in other US cities. UPS is already using bicycles for certain deliveries in Portland, weather permitting. The eBike offers drivers more weather protection than a conventional bicycle.

The eBike concept was first used in the city of Hamburg, Germany in 2012 as part of an experiment designed to develop new sustainable methods for delivering goods in urban areas. UPS placed four containers at central locations in the city for interim storage of packages. From these points, deliveries were made on foot or via elecronically assisted tricycles known as “Cargo Cruisers.” These alternate delivery solutions helped ease traffic congestion and reduce emissions each working day. Deemed a success, the Hamburg program was extended for another two years in February 2015.

Source: Electric Cars Report

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.