Ford is trialling a “warehouse on wheels” service in London which will allow last mile deliveries to be more easily offloaded from trucks to bikes.
The concept involves vans picking up parcels from depots and then stopping at strategic locations.
Foot or bicycle couriers then collect parcels from these points and carry them the last mile to the customer, coordinated by Ford’s software platform.
Ford estimates that a single van with four couriers on foot or bicycle could deliver the same number of parcels as five vans. The initiative aims to cut traffic, reduce emissions and improve delivery times.
Gnewt by Menzies Distribution will contribute electric vans to the project.
Tom Thompson, project lead, Ford Mobility, said: “Our goal is to keep larger vehicles like delivery vans operating in the high‑load, less‑congested environments in which they perform best.
“However, for the last mile of a journey into an urban area, where congestion and lack of parking can be a challenge, it makes sense to offload deliveries to more nimble, efficient and cost‑effective modes of transport.”
Michael Hurwitz, director of transport innovation, Transport for London, said: “Freight and deliveries are central to supporting London’s economy, with half of the value of the capital’s household expenditure relying on it.
“However, congestion and poor air quality are some of the biggest challenges the city faces. More last‑mile deliveries made in this way, alongside the growth of micro‑consolidation centres, are essential to tackle the pollution problem and keeping the roads moving.”
DHL is using a similar concept in Amsterdam, albeit using the city’s canal network rather than its roads.