United Parcel Service is through navigating Manhattan’s congested, crowded streets in its signature brown delivery vans. It has become too difficult, and in some cases almost impossible, not to mention being bad for the environment. So it is debuting deliveries done by these eQuad vans, powered by the pedal and electric assist. Pedal power is how UPS sees the future in Manhattan.
Will the UPS eQuad vans show up in other places?
“New York is a complicated city when we look at the density,” UPS industrial engineering director Nicole Pilet told Associated Press. “So if we can have success here in the city, then we can see how we implement in other cities throughout the U.S.” This won’t be the last city to feature these narrow delivery trucks.
These miniaturized vans are the product of Fernhay eQuad. If you’ve been to London, you may have seen some of them before. They’re only 33-inches wide so they qualify for New York’s bike lanes. With an overall length of almost 10 feet, it’s enough to handle 462 lbs of cargo.
The eQuad van has no steering wheel
With its low center of gravity and four wheels, even when loaded with cargo the eQuad is a stable vehicle. There is no steering wheel. Instead, it has handlebars like a bicycle. But it does have disc brakes.
It has a minimum range of at least 40 miles, as an electric motor will help scoot it along. And it can reach speeds of over 15 mph. If the battery dies, recharging is just like any device. Or just pedal it without. Or add charge by pedaling it some more. And now there is no more idling while in traffic or during deliveries.
The cargo cube slides onto the van’s chassis so filling it offsite adds to its versatility. Once it is packed the cube is slid onto the chassis. Then it can go where the deliveries need to be.
Why is UPS using these vans now?
This is all part of the UPS goal of hitting carbon neutrality by 2050. And UPS started out in the 1920s as a bicycle messenger service. So in some ways, it is going back to how it originally delivered things.
Besides being good for the environment, they’re a nice workout for drivers. Especially for some UPS drivers that are cyclists, it is more than a manageable way to conclude that last-mile delivery. “This is right in my wheelhouse,” said Dyghton Anderson, a UPS driver, and cyclist. “I ride to and from work—all the way from the Bronx all the way to here on 43rd—so it’s pretty comfortable for me.”
And they’re already in use in the city now, so you might spot one on your travels in and around New York City.