UK government: £2 million to support the uptake of e-cargo bikes

The UK government has announced £2 million to support the uptake of e-cargo bikes, driving companies towards a greener future.

The funding will help pave the way for the nimble electric delivery vehicles to replace older, polluting vans – helping to improve the environment and reduce congestion.

The announcement is part of the international Zero Emission Vehicle Summit being held in Birmingham this week. The event is bringing together policy makers, industry experts and opinion formers from around globe to tackle carbon emissions and to explore ways to improve air quality.

In the last year alone spending online in the UK increased by 15.3% and the latest road traffic estimates indicate van traffic increased by 4.7% to 49.5 billion vehicle miles in 2016.

Most of these vans are diesel, which cause congestion and have a detrimental impact on the environment. Over time the government expects to see increasing numbers of electric vans on UK streets but there is also a place for other delivery modes including e-cargo bikes.

The announcement of the grant is an early response to the last mile call for evidence, which closed on10 September 2018. The call for evidence asked for views on how the government can harness the opportunities for greener delivery in the commercial and residential parts of our cities and towns. Further detail about the distribution of this funding will be outlined shortly along with the government’s full response to the call for evidence.

It also builds on previous government-funded UK trials for e-cargo bikes in Spring 2017. The Department for Transport’s Innovation Challenge Fund grant enabled London-based e-cargo Bikes to set up their first Micro Hub on an industrial estate in Islington from which grocery delivery trials with Sainsbury’s were conducted.

The trials exceeded expectations in its potential commercial viability and efficiency, which showed that 96.7% of orders could be fulfilled in a single e-cargo bike drop.

This funding builds on the government’s Road to Zero Strategy which outlines the government’s ambition to lead the world in the design and manufacturing of zero emission vehicles.

With this, the electric bicycle for personal transport is now the only vehicle in the UK not to receive any fiscal/financial incentive. With rapidly raising numbers of commuters using e-bikes throughout Europe, the UK government should perhaps get inspired to push drivers out of their cars onto e-bikes by means of an incentive. Last year, still only 62,500 electric bikes were sold, in a country with a population of +65 million. For comparison, in Belgium sales reached 220,000 with a population of 11 million. A subsidy for electric bikes in France last year, pushed the country into third position for sales volume: +90% to a total of 255,000. This shows that subsidies can be meaningful to prevent the uptake of electric bikes from continuing to slumber.

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