The Velove mission: To radically and quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by attractive, ultra efficient modes of transport
We want to make a contribution to the quick transition to sustainable greenhouse gas emission levels by offering ultra efficient transport solutions that are so attractive that they will replace vans and cars being used for small deliveries and short trips.
The Armadillo cargo cycle only uses 6 % of the electricity needed by a small electric van, when doing the same deliveries. Also, it only uses 7 % of the resources (steel, aluminum, lithium, plastics etc) when produced, compared to a small electric van.
As an added bonus, cities will become more liveable when heavy and space demanding motor vehicles are replaced with lighter vehicles, practically eliminating road/tyre noise, road/tyre wear emissions, freeing up space and adding more faces to the city!
Halving CO2 emissions by 2025
We are already seeing terrifying effects of climate change with melting poles, increasing droughts and floods, heat waves, increasing sea levels and collapsing ecosystems. There are a lot of effects that will come even if emissions would be stopped today, due to the slow nature, the inertia, of climate change. We are already on record greenhouse gas concentrations, there is no time to waste if we want to keep risk reasonably low.
Even if emissions need to go away now, we realise that it is not possible. However, we need a plan that really is progressive, starting today!
The diagram above shows the need to cut CO2 emissions by half until 2030 to stay below 1.5-2 degrees warming, and then continue to zero (probably only possible with new, man-made CO2 sinks). We think we should definitely go for the 1.5 degree target, and also with a little margin, so we find 2025 to be a more reasonable target year for halving emissions. A shorter time span to the target year is also more likely to spur immediate action.
To cut away 50 % of emissions by 2025 is a tremendous challenge. Many high-income countries with high emission levels per capita are still in 2018 not even moving in the right direction. We need to cut 50 % in all consumption groups – such as food, air travel and grovernmental emission services – and all equally fast, otherwise we need to cut even more in ground transport. Also bear in mind that emission levels will keep increasing as billions of people in most countries experience rapid improvements in living standards.
The challenge of reaching sustainable levels quickly enough is grossly underestimated among most politicians, businesses and citizens, almost never basing decisions on the known facts stated above.
Electrification of current vehicle types is not enough
Transport is a sector and a consumption group which represents a big portion of greenhouse gas emissions. Today, electrification is often seen as the solution to mitigate these emissions. Even if electrification indeed is a way forward, it is by no means enough to half emissions by 2025.
The greenhouse gases emitted from producing vans and cars weighing 1-3 tonnes is not reduced, rather the opposite because of the big battery packs required. These emissions, a big portion of life cycle emissions from vehicles, are often ignored for both electric and non-electric vehicles. If we continue to produce these vehicles at the same rate, very little is done to half production emissions from them by 2025. We need to produce less cars and vans and instead replace them with ultra efficient vehicles if we want to meet the 2025 halving target.
The electricity mix is also far away from being CO2 free (around 500 g CO2/kWh in the EU), with no projection of it being CO2 free or even close to CO2 free in the decades to come. In Europe, only a third of the electricity today comes from renewable sources, and the mix is not looking better on other continents. Going in the right direction, yes, but enough to reach 50 % emission cut by 2025 if we stick to the energy demanding vans and cars?
By only electrifying, and sticking to the same resource and energy demanding vehicles, we will most likely not reach 50 % greenhouse gas mitigation from transport by 2025.
The Armadillo can’t replace all car, van and heavy truck trips, and shouldn’t. It has its strengths especially on shorter distances and smaller amounts of cargo. This is however enough to replace a LOT of todays’ motorised transport, and here’s why it’s important to shift as much as possible to smaller vehicles.
Johan, the CEO of Velove Bikes AB, was, and is still, passionate about cars in general and Formula 1 racing in particular. But he also learned that the energy and resource intensive car habits of the industrialised world are seriously threatening the planet.
He did extensive research into the world of ultra efficient cargo bikes and velomobiles. And finally, in 2011, he decided to combine his passion for cars and knowledge about the limitations of the car by developing a new type of bike, at that point of time aimed for private use. An intense, open online discussion and an open workshop laid the theoretical foundation for the first prototypes.
The first two Armadillo prototypes were built by Johans dad Börje (a car freak too), in his garage, with very encouraging results.
We knew we were really on to something with a narrow, high stability, four wheel cargo bike with a comfy seat instead of a saddle. The semi-trailer was prototyped already at prototype 1 stage, and we realised that this bike would also make a very attractive city logistics vehicle. Linda and Dennis joined Velove with their product development and mass production experience from Better Shelter. We found some financing together and could hire the world class dutch bike engineers Flevobike for the third prototype in 2014.
The result spoke for itself, with DHL Express moving in as an early adopter and contributing to setting the requirements for the first version of the City Container. In 2016, we partnered with experienced Czech special bike manufacturing partner Katanga.
We have developed the Armadillo and the City container by testing the products in real world operations, listening carefully to what customers say and doing the development in as many iterations as needed. When we now put the Armadillo into production there have been five earlier versions of it: Prototype 1-3, early pre-series and late pre-series. The City Container has also had three prototypes before the current design. From long bike adventures, Gothenburg-Copenhagen (350 km), Gothenburg-Stockholm (600 km) and along the Rhine (500 km) and the hard testing from logistics operators Pling, DHL, DB Schenker and Hermes, we have received valuable input that has strongly affected the development. It has led to the capable, agile and comfortable human powered vehicle we are now excited to see putting smiles on peoples faces as they are replacing vans!