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UPS’s first eQuads based at mobile hub for last-mile deliveries around Cambridge

UPS’s just-opened ‘micro hub’ in Cambridge city centre is the delivery giant’s first in the UK and ushers in a new option for last-mile delivery to the city as electric-assisted four-wheeled cycles sustainably deliver packages for commercial and residential customers.

UPS (United Parcel Service) is a multinational shipping/receiving and supply chain management company founded in 1907. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, it has more than half a million employees, and a fleet of more than 2,200 vehicles – of which more than 18,300 are alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles serving customers around the world. The UK operation includes more than 50 operating facilities, around 8,000 employees and 6,398 UPS access point locations across the UK.

UPS eQuad for micro hub in the centre of CambridgePictures: UPS
UPS eQuad for micro hub in the centre of CambridgePictures: UPS

That number has now gone up to 6,399 as deliveries are now under way from the new Cambridge hub. UPS’ first UK portable delivery unit - effectively a pop-up delivery hub - operates from a container that fits on the back of a truck. It not only supports UPS’s global sustainability goals of network decarbonisation, but also aligns with Cambridge’s Clean Air initiative – the citywide effort to reduce emissions in the city centre by promoting more sustainable methods for local deliveries.

The eQuads have been developed by Fernhay, an engineering consultancy founded in 2013 with the aim of reducing carbon emissions and traffic congestion in cities. Fernhay has a facility on Barnwell Drive (near the Mercedes centre). The eQuads can use cycle lanes and dual-use pedestrianised zones, ensuring safe access to areas where cars and trucks are restricted.

The initial deliveries using the eQuads have been made from the UPS hub – basically a portable unit slightly smaller than a standard shipping container – at the RSPCA car park near Abbey Pool. There, the logistics of the delivery system for Cambridge were perfected, the eQuads charged and tested, and the mechanics of the delivery loading and unloading were perfected.

UPS eQuad in the centre of Cambridge. Picture: UPS
UPS eQuad in the centre of Cambridge. Picture: UPS

The UPS service revolves around three electric-assisted quadracycles – eQuads – based at the hub, offering zero-emissions urban deliveries to residential and commercial properties.

The eQuads will support with final-mile deliveries on routes previously used by two diesel vans and can use cycle lanes and dual-use pedestrianised zones, ensuring access to areas where cars and other vehicles are restricted.

A Fernhay spokesperson said: “Narrow and unobtrusive, our products fit through tight city streets to those locations which vans struggle to reach, each efficiently carrying up to 200kg.”

As well as UPS, Fernhay has developed products currently in use by clients on roads across Europe and the US which are being used by the Department of Transport, New York City Parks, Vorboss and FIN logistics.

Artur Drenk, director of sustainability, UPS EMEAI, said: “As cities worldwide adopt eco-friendly transportation measures, such as low-emission and zero-emission zones, we are at the forefront, aligning our operations with more sustainable solutions.

“The Cambridge hub is evidence of our dedication to serving customers and communities while reducing our footprint on the ground.”

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