Last mile delivery is faced with an enormous challenge. Delivery times are getting shorter, while the number of shipments is ever-increasing due to the growing e-commerce. Road congestion and environmental pollution in urban areas get intensified, for example by parcel delivery vehicles. At the beginning of 2017, London reached its pollution level for the entire year within the first 5 days. Other countries are struggling to reduce pollution as well, turning to measures like creating car-free city centers or expelling older car models from the streets entirely. In the meantime, the transportation sector keeps growing and more and more people order their goods online – which they expect to be delivered at their doorstep. More efficient and sustainable solutions for city logistics are urgently needed.
Cargo bikes offer a promising possibility to overcome that challenge for last mile delivery in urban areas. Cargo bikes can replace cars in many cases and deliver goods even where cars can’t. They can use bicycle lanes, are almost independent of road traffic and can easily find a parking spot. And with the help of a pedelec (pedal electric cycle) with motor assist, it is also easy to deal with longer distances without big efforts while carrying cargo. E-cargo bikes can improve delivery quality in urban areas by being fast, flexible and sustainable.
With the research project LeichtLAST, Trinamic currently develops an e-cargo bike with a high-efficiency drive control system. This system is composed of a drive, motor, and battery, and is optimized for usage in the CEP (courier, express, and parcel) market. Trinamic will fulfill the demands of CEP services by offering serviceability and longevity of technical components, safe driving, easy handling and driving pleasure at the same time. It uses innovative materials and technologies to realize a low-maintenance e-cargo bike that saves energy, time and money.
The leichtLast consortium is working together to develop a cargo bike which features a highly efficient drive control system utilizing state-of-the-art control methods. The ultra-lightweight frame design from Carbofibretec will then optimize the power-to-weight ratio of the eBike even further.
Finally, the development and implementation of a highly robust, low-maintenance and structurally integrated drive motor as well as a braking energy recovery system - similar to the "Kinetic Energy Recovery System" (KERS) used in Formula 1 - will ensure that the targeted performance gains needed for a truly modern urban cargo bike are achieved.
In cooperation with the IfR, lead developer Trinamic is working to develop integrated control modules using their latest technology for optimized drive control.
In line with the trend towards sustainable transportation methods, the emission-free LeichtLAST e-cargo bike is developed with a focus on its innovative battery unit. This not only results in a longer lifetime of the battery unit itself but also increases the longevity of the cargo bike. It uses a hybrid battery unit consisting of a lithium-ion battery pack and a unit of supercaps to get the best performance. The state-of-the-art technology of lithium-ion batteries provides the basis for a durable battery unit, but recharging them decreases the battery lifetime. To prevent this lifetime reduction, a unit of supercaps is connected in parallel. The advantages of supercaps are the enormous high cycle lifetime and energy density that allows fast charging and discharging.
In addition to this hybrid system, the e-cargo bike’s range will be improved using recovered brake energy (recuperation). There are a lot of starts and stops in last mile delivery caused by traffic in the city centers and the process of going from door to door. And the more load the e-cargo bike is transporting, the more brake energy is released and would be lost. This energy can be recovered by an innovative recuperation system and used for recharging the battery. In the hybrid system, the supercap unit provides recovered brake energy for power pulses to be powerful while starting or on hills. The range is thus increased by recuperation while saving the lithium-ion battery.