Glasgow is a city known globally for its charm, its wit and its grit. It has won many accolades stretching back to the birthplace of so many famous scotch whiskey brands through to being awarded Europe’s city of culture and voted the world’s friendliest city. It is a diverse city full of surprises - including its weather.
Not surprisingly, this great city has limited monthly sunshine. Glasgow lies very close to the 56th Parallel (560N) on par with the Alaskan peninsular. In so many ways, Glasgow would be the last city to test any solar-powered trikes for last mile sustainable delivery. That said, being the fourth largest city by population in the UK (1.7m population), together with having a thriving ecommerce sector, it is the perfect example to test new ideas for Urb-it as we continue to roll out sustainable last mile deliveries.
In the words of the great song “New York, New York” made famous by Frank Sinatra, “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere”. To make sustainable, convenient and cost-effective last mile deliveries work in Glasgow with new innovations, we needed to partner with the world’s most innovative companies committed to sustainability within the logistics industry.
Last month in May, we were delighted to announce that we partnered with Dutch-based solar-powered e-cargo trike manufacturer - Need the Globe (NTG) - to test its world-first SunRider e-cargo trike in Glasgow.
The SunRider Power
The SunRider e-cargo trike is the world’s first self-charging Solar Cargo E-Bike. It is a smart delivery solution that revolutionises the logistics landscape with its seamless and eco-friendly operations. This innovative trike offers a range of benefits to us, and to all of our environmentally-conscious clients. By harnessing solar power and enabling charging on the move, the SunRider reduces ongoing charging time, making it an ideal choice to add to our fleet of e-cargo bikes in our continued effort for cost-efficient and sustainable deliveries for the last mile.
By utilising ongoing charging, the Solar Cargo Bike extends its operational range by adding up to an additional 100 km per day. This not only enhances the productivity of our great teams of cyclists but also reduces dependence on the power grid, further reducing energy usage. Equipped with a spacious euro pallet-sized cargo box, the SunRider also enables us to offer customisable options that suit a multitude of requirements by our clients, and with its payload capacity of up to 150 kg, it enables us to transport a wide range of goods easily.
The SunRider offers so much potential to enhance our sustainable last mile deliveries that we thought Urb-it would have to test it operationally on the cycle paths of Glasgow, our northernmost centre.
Glasgow’s Climate Challenges present an ideal testbed for the Future of Solar-powered Last Mile Delivery
Testing a solar-powered trike for last mile deliverability in Glasgow poses unique challenges due to the city's limited sunshine; however, it presents an ideal testing ground to evaluate the trike's performance under challenging climatic conditions. We wanted to test the trike’s performance in Glasgow to ultimately see how the performance could be measured against the other major cities we service across in the UK, France and Spain.
Below we can see the monthly sunshine for Glasgow. The sunshine hours peak at almost 200 hours per month in Spring, falling to around 35 hours per month in the middle of winter.
One of the primary hypotheses we are testing lies in the trike's dependency on solar energy as a key power source. With limited sunlight, the efficiency and charging capacity of the solar panels may be significantly affected, and as a result, we wanted to test the trike's range and overall performance.
The unpredictable weather, frequent cloud cover, and shorter daylight hours pose obstacles to harnessing sufficient solar energy for continuous operation. This means that we need to optimise the trike's energy management system to maximise efficiency and battery life, and we are working closely with the manufacturers to provide the necessary data that will help drive further innovation in advanced solar panel designs and energy storage capacity.
Testing the solar-powered trike in Glasgow not only demonstrates our commitment to sustainability but also provides valuable insights into its adaptability and performance in challenging environments. This paves the way for more sustainable and resilient last mile delivery solutions across the European cities Urb-it services, where there are better weather patterns.
With the measured performance from Glasgow we can extrapolate the increased energy efficiencies we can make in our other major hubs across Europe:
Feedback from our Glasgow Team
Our Glasgow team have only been operating the SunRider trike since the start of May, so the results are still in the very early stages - but the initial response has been very positive.
Terry Gibb, our City Manager for Glasgow, gave us his early analysis of the SunRider’s performance:
“While it is early days to give any concrete conclusions, our initial reactions have been very positive. We now have an additional tool to help drive our committed objective of sustainable last mile logistics for Glasgow. The initial results are very promising for the future, and we have more flexibility and increased payload for our city's great ecommerce companies. We look forward to working with SunRider as we continue to test the trike in the early summer months to see the level of improved performance and to give our clients the sustainable delivery options they so desperately need.”
A Shared Cultural Alignment to Embrace Renewable Innovation
Like ourselves at Urb-it, the SunRider manufacturers are embracing the latest innovations in solar panel technology. As the technology continues to evolve, with improved efficiency, durability, and affordability, the SunRider has the potential to stand as a shining beacon of sustainability. It meets our core values and is in line with our overarching objective to overcome the logistics industry trilemma - the three concurrent challenges of embracing:
- Cost-effectiveness - all at the same time.
By harnessing the power of the sun, the manufacturers indicate that the SunRider's solar panels provide an average of 65% of the necessary charge for daily deliveries. On sunny days, this is said to increase to 100%, showcasing the remarkable potential of solar energy to play its part in powering sustainable last mile delivery.
Unlocking Urban Logistics Efficiency and Sustainability
At Urb-it we have been unlocking urban logistics for sustainable last mile deliveries since we started our long journey back in 2014. By using the cycle lanes that are increasingly emerging throughout cities across Europe, we are able to deliver sustainably through our e-cargo bike fleet working in tandem with our local hub teams that deliver our clients’ packages. By focusing on sustainable alternatives, we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and help our ecommerce and logistics clients remove the pollution that silently clogs up our roads.
Now, with the advent of self-charging capabilities, the SunRider propels us even further forward. When it is further considered with our previous announcement of working with Varamis Rail to provide sustainable rail transport, we are increasingly moving towards making our entire supply chain more sustainable. It's a long journey, but we are increasingly proud to see these ongoing relationships building.
While embracing sustainability is in our DNA, we invite others in the logistics space to embrace new sustainable innovations, and we would welcome further discussions to help us drive the narrative onward and upwards. Between us all, we know the writing is on the wall for sustainable logistics, and together we need to get ahead of the curve.
The launch of the SunRider heralds a new era of logistics for us, where both businesses and customers can reap significant sustainable benefits of ongoing charging. Customers can expect an improved and flexible delivery experience, together with cost-effectiveness, all within a sustainable landscape.
So in the words of the New York, New York song we started with, Glasgow is making it work within an environment of challenging weather conditions. So by making it work there, we can make it work anywhere!
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