E-mobility or immobility?

DSC_0013Many studies particularly from the European Union have been published on the e-mobility problematics.

It is clear that the French e-vehicle fleet is not really in advance compared to the northern European countries.

With this assertion,   we probably have to set aside the development plan of the French Post Office « la Poste » for e-vehicles, which represents by himself the most important efforts in this field and has to be mentionned.

The offer for delivery e-vehicles has never been so important in Europe, with at least 38  manufacturers (European, American and Asiatic) and 58 models, from the van to the HGV.

The analysis fo the situations in Northern Europe clearly shows that the development of e-vehicles for goods transportation is closely linked to a strong support of public and local authorities.

Many incentives, financial or non financial, have been proposed. I will expose a few of them.

–          Creation of Low Emission Zones which forbid the access in central city areas (often rather large) of vehicles with a certain level of pollution ;

–          Free parking for e-vehicles ;

–          Accessibility to certain areas with wider time slot ;

–          Tax incentives ;

–          Possibility to drive in the bus lanes ;

–          Easiness for battery swap or charge ;

In Paris, as the photo shows, having a delivery e-vehicle does not bring many advantages.

Despite the fact that they usually have adapted sizes, they drive in the middle of the traffic jams.

Why shouldn’t we accept theses vehicles in the bus lanes whereas we accept other vehicles such as taxis, which do not bring much environmental advantages ?

E-vehicles represent a major financial risk for an operator, because of the cost. If this vehicle makes in a day the same number of deliveries, what is the advantage ?

It is therefore high time that the good intentions  for the development of e-mobility shown by the different authorities give place to incentive measures, in this case not necessarily financial, but high enough to help the operators to make this choice.

It is now the right time to expose positive measures enabling the delivery operators to make the choice of e-mobility.

We must not mix e-mobility up with immobility !

Economy sharing, crowdsharing , the words do not miss for these new patterns of consumption, more solidarity-based and enabling to better share resources, cars, bicycles,  apartments … Urban freight , like other sectors of the economy , does not avoid  this societal change .

Several aspects seem interesting to precise.

First, urban freight requires better share the public road . For decades, the road was firstly reserved to cars, but also delivery vehicles, sometimes double-parked for many reasons, and additionally to public transport and pedestrians. Then  arrived in the city trams, bicycles, motorbikes and above all a desire to better respect the pedestrian, often inhabitant of a city center that we want to become more attractive.

One aspect of better urban freight practices appears through road sharing . But not in any conditions. This sharing must be positive, that is to say allow pedestrians to have a larger part of the public space during times of intense activity (eg late afternoon and Saturday ), allow the delivery vehicles to do their job with maximum efficiency and minimal disruption (for example during the morning delivery hours), allow other vehicles to drive or park normally. This involves regulation, but especially dialogue. A good example of this road sharing was developed in Brussels, on Avenue Louise. This successful initiative was presented at the Bestfact workshop 29 and January 30.

Brussels, avenue Louise

Brussels, avenue Louise

The city of Paris has also successfully adopted this idea of ​​sharing delivery parking spaces by splitting the 10,000 delivery parking places in « 100% delivery » and « shared spaces ». These shared places allow car drivers  to park during  night and on Sundays and delivery activities to use these places during the day .

shared parking places in Paris

shared parking places in Paris

A second aspect of sharing is today theoretical, but certainly intends for a big future.
Urban freight requires surface areas to consolidate flows or change transport mode. The real estate facilities in the city have a very high cost which makes difficult the implementation of urban freight solutions. These premises are used only a few hours in the day, often early in the morning ( until about 9am ) and in the evening. Now imagine sharing solutions, allowing these premises to be used during  the day for other activities and thus share the costs.  For example, could we imagine that these premises are used  in the morning to sort parcels, then at 10 am to any social activity (sports for example) and find again at 4 or 5 pm a logistics activity?

Finally, another idea of sharing is delivery. Some crowdsharing experiments have been made, allowing private individuals to deliver parcels or grocery shopping on behalf of other individuals. cf article in this blog about the experience Myways in Stockholm .  Walmart is also very interested by this idea in the US.

So imagine urban freight sharing !

Urban freight : a level of awareness in all European cities

It is surprising that the urban freight  is a major concern in most European cities.

The Bestfact Workshop, which just took place on January 29 and 30 in Brussels , was an opportunity to make a point about the experiences in many European cities.Cargocycle of the company Txita in San Sebastian

Theoretical studies  clearly give way to concrete experiences, this in many countries. These experiences can be classified in different ways:

1 – experiences of consolidation centers organized with a public initiative. The examples presented are in Italy, the Netherlands , Sweden and Denmark. The project of consolidation center un Brussels was also presented.
2 – private experiences of last mile distribution centers using environmentally friendly means of delivery ( cargocycles or electric vehicles) . We were able to attend the presentations of experiences in different cities , particularly in Paris (The Greeenlink ), London , Spain and Germany.
3 – technological advances on urban delivery vehicles and initiatives of rental network of electric vehicles.

Common points emerged among all these virtuous initiatives :

The objective of controlling the number of delivery vehicles and significantly reducing CO2 emissions due to the distribution of goods. Other negative externalities such as noise , fine particles, accidents, road sharing were also clearly identified.
A need to support these initiatives with regulation changes allowing these solutions to have an advantage compared to traditional distribution solutions.
The importance of building economically balanced solutions.
The emergence of new requirments due to consumption trends (e -commerce ), which severely changes the previously studied patterns around the downtown shops.

This workshop , which brought together representatives of many countries shows interest, supported by the European Union, for new practices of goods distribution in cities. There is clearly no single solution but many  virtuous initiatives that go in the same direction : to improve the attractiveness of cities .