You know those scenes in Blade Runner where the wealthy use flying cars, and live in ziggurat towers, whilst the poor sleep in doorways and ride bicycles through the streets to work? Well that’s the future of London. Here’s some news from EAV, who are building prototype bicycle delivery vehicles so that vans and cars can be completely banned from the streets of major cities in future.
Electric Assisted Vehicles, the Oxfordshire-based micro-mobility manufacturer, is creating a series of demanding tests to ensure the complete safety of the new EAV 2Cubed eCargo light commercial vehicle and future developments which will be based on the now proven EAV platform.
“We’d already completed a whole series of safety and durability tests during the development of the new EAV chassis.” explains Adam Barmby, Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Our durability programme runs almost continuously day and night but safety for operator, pedestrians and other traffic is the real priority for EAV. The EAV 2Cubed has been designed to be incredibly stable on its four-wheel platform, but we need to prove it is dynamic in its handling and capable of avoiding a pedestrian stepping into a bicycle lane for example. This is the reason for the ‘Elk’ test. It’s really important to EAV that we set the global standard for micro-mobility safety.”
EAV is conducting tests and creating new standards at its testing facility near Oxford to including: Braking – matching the laden weight of the vehicle to the brake capacity including the future additional of ABS; Handling – each EAV model must be capable of passing a version of the ‘Elk’ test – an evasive manoeuvre test established in Scandinavia in the 1970s for cars and vans which simulates an Elk or Moose walking into the road; Centre of Gravity – each EAV cannot topple over when fully laden even if the weight is at the top of the cargo box.
See the EAV promo video here;
“We’re receiving a lot of orders for the EAV 2Cubed and a huge number of requests to trial the vehicle by major blue-chip companies.” continued Barmby. “We have a very committed internal objective that the EAV platform will be able to replace the majority of vans and cars in city centres within the next two years, so demonstrating our focus on safety and maintaining automotive level safety standards is vital.”
On London’s streets alone more than 2,000 people are injured every year which caused Mayor Sadiq Khan to introduce his bold ‘Vision Zero’ in 2019 to have zero road fatalities and injuries by 2041. EAV however firmly believe that cars and vans could be almost entirely removed from urban environments to be replaced by lightweight commercial and personal vehicles based on the EAV chassis platform in the much nearer future.
Described by the company as having been ‘engineered down from a van rather than up from a bicycle’ by EAV’s highly successful group of motorsports and aerospace engineers, the vehicle takes the increased efficiency and environmental benefits of zero emissions and lightweight vehicle architecture to the next level allowing and encouraging national and regional legislation to advance the ongoing reduction of the use of vans and goods vehicle traffic in towns and cities.
Part of that legislation should involve safety standards which EAV fully intend to both establish and lead on.
“As an advanced micro-mobility design, engineering and vehicle manufacturing company, safety is a key element to solving the highly complex transport, business efficiency and social problems within urban environments internationally.” states Barmby. “There’s no point in promoting the health and happiness value of a bio-mechanical electric hybrid vehicle, like the EAV, unless safety levels and accident numbers are better than what we have now with vans and cars.”
Insurers need to look at lightweight delivery vehicles and the associated risks carefully. Some parts of London are more suitable than others as regards street layout, traffic volumes, HGV and bus use, or parking safely. As London moves towards a mix of petrol/diesel/hybrid and bicycles as the primary methods of urban transport, there may be a small rise in serious PI claims. Small numbers yes, but they may involve life-changing injuries for vulnerable road users.
Then there’s the question of whether the sub-contracted freelance is an actual employee of the delivery company, with all the insurance aspects involved; public liability, DBS checks, training, any future licence or insurance regulations for road use, minimum age, GDPR compliance on data etc.
The lofty goals of climate change campaigners are admirable, but in the real world people want their food delivered hot. Not lukewarm. An army of bicycles and sweaty riders might not cut it for Maccys, KFC, Just Eat or Deliveroo.