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.
Ten Times More Energy Efficient Than an Electric Car
When the Armadillo can be used instead of an electric car, for example when moving small amounts of goods or people short distances, it is ten times more energy efficient.
The EU funded project Cyclelogistics calculates 51 % of all motorised trips with cargo, including private, can be replaced by cargo bikes. Add all the short car trips without cargo to that (half of all car trips shorter than 5 km etc.) and the energy saving potential of the Armadillo is huge.
But why do we need to save energy? Isn’t electricity clean and emission free? No, even if renewables are growing, they still only makes up a small part of the electricity mix, in EU a quarter.
That is why energy efficiency is key in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, also in electrified transport. Even if “green electricity” is chosen to charge the electric car or van, every clean kWh we can save by not riding in heavy vehicles can replace a dirty kWh as it can be sold on the electricity market.
The energy efficiency differences are of course even bigger when compared to combustion engine cars, vans and heavy trucks.
Some people argue that muscle powered transport is inefficient, as it is fuelled by food and there are a lot of energy losses when producing food and transforming it to muscle power. In one sense that is true, but on the other hand we all need exercise anyway to stay healthy. If you ride in a car or a van, you need to get the exercise some other way, which will most likely not produce useful energy, as transporting yourself and/or cargo.
An electric car weighs at least 15 times more than an Armadillo (that is why it uses so much energy to get moving). A lot of metals, like iron, aluminum and lithium, which all cause considerable environmental impact, goes into an electric car or van. If Armadillos replace cars and vans for small, short trips, resource use is significantly reduced. The CO2 emissions alone, from manufacturing a regular car is typically 5-10 tons. That is not making it easier to stay within a sustainable personal annual CO2 budget of 1-2 tons. For cars with large amounts of aluminium and lithium these numbers are significantly higher, as these metals are energy demanding to produce. Unfortunately, electric car manufacturers seldom disclose information about CO2 emissions from manufacturing, probably for a reason.
The Armadillo use less than half the space in the city needed by a car, and a lot less compared to vans. If big vehicles do big deliveries and small vehicles do small deliveries when possible, enabled with centrally located terminals and/or the Velove City Container, we win both transport efficiency and valuable space in the city. And as the Armadillo is only 86 cm wide, it will fit even on narrow bike paths without causing problems for other cyclists.
No Noise, no Local Emissions to Air
It probably goes without saying that a bike is quiet and low on emissions, but even compared to electric cars the Armadillo produce less noise and local air emissions. In speeds above 30 km/h (20 mph), a car starts emitting considerable noise from the tyres, especially in wet conditions, so electric propulsion don’t help at those speeds. And an electric car will still tear up particles from the road, a significant source of pollutants in the city.