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UPS expands use of electric cargo bicycles for deliveries

UPS has been making significant strides towards reducing the environmental impact of their delivery fleet.

Now the delivery company is expanding the rollout of their UPS electric cargo tricycles.

UPS first began testing their novel delivery trikes one year ago in Pittsburgh.

Now the company is working with the city of Seattle to roll out more of their UPS electric cargo tricycles.

According to UPS’ Senior Director of Maintenance and Engineering Scott Phillippi:

“While we have launched cycle logistic projects in other cities, this is the first one designed to meet a variety of urban challenges. The modular boxes and trailer allow us to expand our delivery capabilities and meet the unique needs of our Seattle customers. It’s exciting to return to our roots – UPS started in Seattle in 1907 as a bicycle messenger company. We’re looking forward to being able to offer these customizable urban delivery solutions to other cities nationwide.”

ups electric cargo tricycle

UPS electric cargo tricycles

The UPS electric cargo tricycles use removable cargo containers that are deployed via a specially designed trailer. The cargo containers can hold up to 400 lbs (181 kg) and have a capacity of 95 cubic ft. (2.7 cubic meters).

The tricycles are equipped with an electric motor that can work together with human pedal power or by itself. The electric motor helps the UPS electric cargo tricycles more easily navigate rough or hilly terrain. The electric tricycles can also travel much further distances than under pedal power alone.

According to the company:

“The UPS electric cargo tricycles will also be able to make deliveries to areas conventional delivery trucks can’t access directly and currently require that trucks be parked on the periphery for long periods of time. This will reduce congestion in these areas by reducing truck dwell time, instances of double parking and other unintended consequences associated with downtown deliveries.”

As part of the test program, the effectiveness of the UPS electric cargo tricycles will be evaluated by the University of Washington and the Urban Freight Lab. The basis for evaluation includes the tricycle’s reliability, design, and integration into Seattle’s infrastructure.

ups electric cargo tricycle

UPS’ sustainable initiatives

These UPS electric cargo tricycles are just one part of the company’s push towards sustainable operations.

UPS has also been acquiring electric trucks for standard deliveries and recently took a test drive in the new Tesla Semi.

The company currently has over 9,000 low-emission vehicles on the road, though a significant number include hybrid vehicles.

UPS has continued to move towards electrification of much of their fleet, with the UPS electric cargo tricycles just the latest in the company’s line of delivery EVs.

ups electric cargo tricycle

Electrek’s Take

I think this is an awesome move, and frankly somewhat overdue.

The effectiveness of electric cargo bicycles and tricycles has been obvious for years. They have been used not only for deliveries, but also for micro-businesses using them for everything from mobile coffee shops to ice cream “trucks”.

UPS deserves recognition for their move towards electrification, but I think their electric cargo trikes are special for another reason.

Even when electric, large delivery trucks can be a nuisance to the public and inefficient in many cities. A more distributed model using smaller vehicles like these electric cargo tricycles makes much more sense for deliveries in dense urban centers.

And at least now when a UPS delivery vehicle is blocking the bike lane, it might be an actual bike.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

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Avatar for Micah Toll Micah Toll

Micah Toll is a personal electric vehicle enthusiast, battery nerd and author of the Amazon #1 bestselling books DIY Lithium Batteries, DIY Solar Power and the Ultimate DIY Ebike Guide.

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