In a joint project with RI.SE, we have demoed a hydrogen powered Armadillo with semi-trailer:
More details to come from RI.SE.
In a joint project with RI.SE, we have demoed a hydrogen powered Armadillo with semi-trailer:
More details to come from RI.SE.
Small vehicles are superior for small goods delivery in dense city centres, with double the productivity for half the cost compared to vans. There is also an almost limitless amount of environmental, city liveability and social advantages. But reloading the goods from a big vehicle to a small has been too difficult, risky and costly, so the van is still dominating last mile delivery of small goods in most city centres.
Enter the City Container. Borrowing from the same idea behind the shipping container, the City Container makes shifting the goods from one vehicle to another efficient and safe. And voila, small vehicles can be used for last mile delivery without sacrificing profitability or the integrity of the goods.
We are now steaming ahead with making containerisation of city logistics an even more attractive alternative. Together with german cargobike manufacturer Radkutsche and cycle logistics operator MOVEBYBiKE Stockholm, and with funding from Vinnova (Swedish state innovation agency), we have made it possible to easily attach the City Container to the Radkutsche Musketier. So for anyone wanting to deploy a city logistics solution based on the City Container, he or she is no longer dependent of using our own Armadillo four wheel cargo cycle, but can freely choose to use the Musketier instead, or a mixed fleet.
The Armadillo frame is designed to be able to be the platform for both goods and passenger versions. The cargo versions are now in production, and are our main focus for 2017 and 2018. With a future mobility module (for now called “Two-seater”), the Armadillo will provide a combination of passenger and cargo capability.
Six prototype Two-seaters have been produced. I have personally tested one for a year, and this is my report. The other five of them are still being tested by the City of Gothenburg.
The Two-seater combines functionality from the cargo bike and the velomobile. The idea is that with a lot of comfort and cargo capacity, it can replace virtually all short car trips in the city. 70-80 % of all car trips in urban areas are shorter than 3-4 kilometers, so there is a huge potential to replace car trips with bike trips. We believe that the Two-seater can, for most people, be the more attractive alternative compared to the car, for short trips in the city. The negative aspects (parking difficulties and congestion) of using the car in the city will become too big.
Summing up my year with the Two-seater, I can see that I have used it for a number of different purposes on the 3800 km I have ridden.
The year started off in April 2016 with going on a 500 km road trip from Nijmegen in Holland to Germersheim in Germany. It went according to plan and without a single technical issue -but compared to my earlier bike adventures I did not really enjoy to sit enclosed. You are not in contact with the elements and with other people, as you are when you ride open. A bike adventure is, in my opinion, about to slowly take in everything you pass. Sounds, animals, people, temperature and humidity shifts -the cabin took a lot of this away.
I used the Two-seater to get to work almost daily. I also go to meetings, which are often in the Gothenburg city center. The Armadillo has been perfect for this -the absolutely fastest and most flexible way to get from A to B in the city, in any weather. Faster than public transport, cars and also other bikes. The Two-seater has lower wind resistance than riding a regular bike, so the average speed is high, even if it is heavy and only has a 250 watt electric assist.
My family consists of Åsa and my two kids (14 and 2 years old). They have often joined me in the Armadillo. Not all of them at once, but quite often both Åsa and the two-year-old or the 14-year-old and the two-year-old joined me. When riding with the fourteen-year-old only, listening to music in a portable bluetooth speaker was an important component of the trip!
Dennis, one of the co-founders of Velove, was often a passenger as I picked him up on the way to meetings. Several other people have joined as passengers, when I have offered them a ride back to their office or to the train station.
Sometimes Åsa used the Armadillo on her own, when the weather was not too nice.
The 14-year-old used it a couple of times (then 13 years old) to ride to school to the joy if his classmates, but in the end preferred public transport because of poor cycling infrastructure.
The cargo capacity has been used many times. Now, when I ride a regular bike again, I immediately miss it. Hauling cargo is an important aspect of everyday life!
Taru and Hans used the Two-seater as their wedding vehicle a year ago -such frontrunners!
Before I got the Two-seater, I had ideas that I would use it for visiting my brother in the other end of the city (15 km) and friends in Kungsbacka (30 km). But this didn’t happen.
With the purpose of getting from A-B, distances that took longer than 30-40 minutes did not feel attractive to me. I live very close to a tram stop, so the Two-seater always had tough competition from public transport. 30-40 minutes at 20 km/h average speed corresponds to 10-13 kilometers.
So my conclusion is that as a rule of thumb, the maximum attractive riding distance when the purpose is to get from A to B is 10 km/30 minutes with the Armadillo Two-seater. If the distance is longer, public transport becomes the more attractive option.
Living in an apartment, I was very lucky to get the perfect parking for the Two-seater, an abandoned office just next to the entrance door. Without this, I really don’t now how I should have been able to use the Two-seater. If I would have had to park it far away, it would not have been used anywhere near the same degree as it was used now. This is very important for cities to solve! How do you safely and conveniently park your cargo bike if you live in an apartment?
On this pre-series chassis and prototype body, I rode 3800 km and had one single technical problem that needed professional attention -the battery cable (Rosenberger) corroded and contact was lost. This cable has now been replaced with a more robust type for all Armadillos.
Even if my year with the Two-seater was to a large extent satisfactory, there is a lot that can be further developed to make it even more attractive.
If you have lots of cargo onboard, for example adult passengers, riding uphill is slooooow, like 5 km/h slow. It does not feel like a smart vehicle on these occasions. More power would make it more attractive in hilly cities.
Yes, the Two-seater has a weather protected cabin, you are protected from the rain. But the prototype cabin is far from totally enclosed, so a lot of wind does still get in the cabin. This is not very pleasant, and we need to make it more airtight for the next version.
Who would buy/use a car without a sound system? It is an important aspect of riding the Two-seater too -a nice sound system makes the ride a lot more enjoyable!
Even if the Two-seater already has great cargo capacity, the feedback is that we should have even more, as it will replace a car.
In really windy conditions, the Two-seater proved to be wind sensitive in crosswind. You need to hold on tight to the steer on these occasions, or you can end up somewhere you don’t want to. The way the body is designed on the prototypes explains a lot, it catches a lot more wind from the side than it would with another design.
When you add a body, transmission noise that is otherwise almost not audible suddenly becomes quite disturbing. So getting the drivetrain noise down really low is important.
Maybe the most important aspect of all for the success of the Two-seater, to get the price down. This is a reason for why we are not selling it yet, we want to get the volumes of the Armadillo platform up first, which will push the price down.
We were able to develop a body that worked thanks to some funding we got from the Swedish state. But it was still a really low budget compared to what is needed to develop a body. So we had to cut some corners, for example going for a fabric body instead of investing in molds for a hard body. We also needed to take some other decisions along the way which meant that the styling didn’t come out as we wanted. Even if it looks pretty OK from some angles and some people really like it, the styling is not creating that “shut up and take my money” response we want to hear from enough people. This needs to change for a vehicle in this price category.
The cabin is great in bad weather, but in the summer you want the wind in the face, hear the surroundings and connect with other cyclists. So it needs in some way to be able to open up when the weather is nice.
Sometimes you want to park and leave your stuff in the Two-seater -so you need some kind of lockable space, or to lock the entire cabin. This is an important practical feature of the car.
I used a regular bike seat for the two-year-old. But you want to be able to seat at least two small children, and then the regular bike seats are too big. Something new needs to be designed. Reclining backrests are also an important feature for the child seats, so they can sleep safely and comfortably when riding or parked.
Being lazy, I always ride on full electric assist. If it is not hilly, to be honest, my muscle input is not that big. Something I think would motivate myself to use my muscles more, either to ride faster or to set the assist mode lower, would be to get feedback on how much energy my muscles has put in. I am actually surprised that this is still not something the electric assist manufacturers offer. The very accurate force sensor is already there in many cases (Bosch, Yamaha, Bafang etc.) -should be easy to extract the data. I think this would be a valuable feature in a production Two-seater.
Right now we are focussing on producing and selling the cargo versions of the Armadillo. As soon as we have resources available, we will pick up development of the Two-seater. If you want to make sure you stay up to date on developments, please ask to join our newsletter! Request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coinciding with the launch of DHL Express tests and a lot of media attention, Velove was granted € 30 000 by Swedish state funding scheme “Innovative start-ups“. The competition was tough, with only 10-15 % of applicants being granted funding.
The funding will be used for standardising the Velove City Container. Application summary:
“City logistics is an increasing challenge for logistics operators in bigger cities, where increased congestion and motor vehicle regulations result in decreased productivity. Simultaneously, delivery demand is skyrocketing due to e-commerce and ultra fast deliveries. One partial solution is to use smaller vehicle for last mile delivery and first mile pickup for small goods. Transferring goods from a large vehicle to a smaller, or via a terminal, is however costly. Manual handling of parcels is time consuming and introduces an increased risk of damaged/lost goods. By using the same principle as both sea and air freight introduced decades ago to increase efficiency, containerisation, efficiency can be improved in city logistics. A container that is loaded with parcels in an external terminal can quickly and safely be transferred from a big vehicle to a smaller in a city centre, or via a terminal. Velove has developed a city container solution for its own cargo cycle, the Armadillo, with DHL as first customer. With this project, Velove aims to take a step towards making the container solution an industry standard. “
“We see great potential in the City Container for city logistics, says Velove CEO Johan Erlandsson. We know small vehicles are better suited to do small deliveries in congested city centers. But big vehicles are needed to get the goods into the city center in an efficient way. So the goods need to be moved from big vehicle to small, efficiently and safely. You can perhaps compare with sea containers. Who would today say it is a good idea to handle goods manually when loading or unloading a vessle? We are happy Vinnova (Swedish innovation institution) also see the potential of the City Container!”
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Finally, all pre-series Armadillos to a mobility project in Gothenburg have been delivered! This fleet is a mix of ten Armadillos with City Container and driver cabin, and Armadillo Two-seaters.
The pre-series Armadillos will get some post delivery upgrades, the most important being hard windscreen and wipers, which have just been developed with satisfactory result.
We have already got some first valuable feedback, and we expect to get tonnes more from continued testing by pre-series riders! All of this feeds into the development of a production ready fairing, first for the cargo versions, and later for passenger versions.
We will do continuous development of the fairings. However, we will not put full focus on fairing development right now, especially not the passenger version. We are prioritising getting production of the Armadillo platform and cargo modules started.
If you are especially interested in the Two-seater and is now disappointed this development will go a bit slower for a while, I recommend also following the development of similar (but smaller) faired fourwheelers PodRide (SE) and Podbike (NO), both with announced release dates in the end of 2017. The Quattrovelo (NL) four-wheel velomobile is already in production. Unfortunately, the makers of the three-wheeled Cabriovelo (IT) just announced that they will put their project on hold. A pity, as this model has some unique solutions, for example a cabriolet style fairing.
The Armadillo in cargo versions, without fairing, is as you already know production ready. Orders are coming in, quickly filling our limited production volume for 2017. We have been ordering parts and components for the first batch for a while, but now it’s time to start assembling!
We are still adding the final details to the production version, for example the bumper:
And, especially for you big rig lovers, we are happy to announce we have decided to put the semi-trailer into production, and the first production semi is already ordered!
As we are now finally entering production, I think it it is time for you to meet the team, from different corners of Europe!
Local development resource Håkan, at Erik Svetsare, Lödöse, Sweden
If you want to meet us and/or testride, there are opportunities at the ECLF conference in Vienna in March, the cargo bike festival in Nijmegen in June and of course to book an appointment with us.
Johan, CEO of Velove