A case study
- Cargo bikes are the missing piece of the delivery fleet puzzle — they hold more cargo and are more weatherproof than bikes, yet more flexible and nimble than cars.
- Vok beats foot couriers by about 40% and car couriers by 20% in efficiency.
- Omniva believes that such vehicles can make a regular mailman or courier job more attractive.
- The weather was Omniva’s biggest concern and Vok passed its first cold and snowy winter with flying colours.
Omniva is an international logistics and postal company from Estonia that transports goods and information — from delivering good old newspapers and letters to supporting and advancing e-commerce for buyers and sellers. All this magic happens via a complicated network of deliveries, parcel terminals and postboxes, not to mention the couriers and mailmen operating with vans, cars, bicycles and on foot. In Estonia, they currently have a fleet of around 800 vehicles, including 100 regular bicycles.
In January 2021 Omniva became part of Vok e-bike trial where all participants received one Vok cargo bike for testing and feedback. Omniva wanted to try out electric cargo bikes for postal transport in Tallinn Old Town. Their experience confirmed that cargo bikes have huge potential in the delivery business. In June they extended their Vok trial period and are looking to substantially grow their cargo bike fleet by the end of the year.
In this case study, we take a look at how Vok cargo bikes put up with the challenging Nordic winter and how a cargo bike is the missing piece of the delivery fleet puzzle.
Cargo bike — the missing piece of the delivery fleet puzzle
Omniva has been looking for efficient car alternatives for years. Their bike couriers use regular bikes and pedal up to 20 km a day with around 20-30 kg load of letters, periodicals and advertisements. Traditional bikes don’t accommodate many goods, are hard to manoeuvre — especially during wintertime — and require quite a bit of physical strength. Omniva even tried to develop their own 3-wheeler bike with added cargo boxes but that didn’t work out as hoped.
Marten Seepter the Head of Transport Department at Omniva says that their main concerns were cargo space and adequate weather protection for the couriers. “We’ve tested all kinds of solutions from building our own bikes to a 3-wheel motor scooter — which was quite an experience, to be honest — to different custom cargo bike solutions from all over Europe. Every time we’ve stumbled upon the price. Only recently, cargo bikes like Vok used to cost as much as a new car. Vok offers a really competitive price-quality ratio.”
They came across Vok by chance and were immediately sold. “They contacted us and we became part of the early-stage trial. We liked that they’re a local company so we could be sure their weatherproof design really suits our northern climate. Not to mention, working with a local partner is the most sustainable option.”
Marten says that cargo bikes can easily replace cars on certain routes. “Unlike bikes, we can also deliver parcels with Voks and they accommodate a lot more cargo. We have delivery routes that are too much for cycling but inefficient for cars. There we can swap cars for Voks.”
In dense urban areas, cargo bikes beat all other transportation
Omniva’s experience confirms that cargo bikes are most efficient for delivery trips with short distances and numerous stops. Marten notes: “The courier can get on and off the bike easily and not stop the car every 20 meters. Electric cargo bikes are much more comfortable for dense urban areas with limited car access.”
Omniva has even calculated that comparable routes with similar distance and number of deliveries, take the least time with Vok, beating foot couriers by about 40% and car couriers by 20% in efficiency:
- By foot: 6:24 h
- By car: 5:49 h
- By Vok: 4:34 h
Driving a Vok e-cargo bike is fun and games, even when the weather isn’t
Marten notes that their Vok courier previously drove a regular bike: “Our Vok driver is extremely satisfied with her cargo bike experience — from driving to flexible parking. She was actually really concerned when the trial period was coming to an end because she didn’t want to give up her Vok.”
Omniva started testing Vok in the middle of an exceptionally cold and snowy winter. Marten: “Weather was our biggest concern and we were really pleased about how Vok handled extreme snow conditions. It passed all snowdrifts with flying colours. People expect deliveries in any weather and the couriers can count on Vok. Even though suitable clothing is important, Vok windshield is really a step up compared to regular biking.”
Marten laughs that as a low-key motorcycle fan he really enjoyed driving the Vok as well: “It’s a cool vehicle! Working on a Vok is surely more interesting than regular biking or driving a car. You just enjoy the way it handles weather, street curbs and other challenges. I’m pretty sure that such vehicles can make a regular mailman or courier job more attractive for all people.”
Cargo bikes have a huge potential in the delivery business
After the first positive experience, Omniva is looking to expand its cargo bike fleet as fast as possible. As a state-owned enterprise, they have to follow public procurement procedures but Marten hopes that they’ll receive the next cargo bikes by the end of the year: “We see a huge potential for cargo bikes. We’re looking to cover the biggest cities and boroughs as soon as possible and move even further from there.”
Indrek Petjärv, the Co-Founder & CEO of Vok jokes that they were even surprised how well Voks performed for the delivery business: “Omniva got one of the very first bikes we ever built. The beginning was somewhat rocky but the weak points came out in a month or two and have all been fixed by now. Omniva’s experience and feedback has been extremely helpful to us in understanding both product development and clients’ needs.”
Marten says that full-service rental has been a great solution for them and Vok is a flexible partner who is open to custom development: “You can adjust anything from the cargo space construction to the placement of cargo doors. For example, we’d probably like to add a cargo box to the cockpit to make delivery even more efficient. Also, we wouldn’t mind even bigger cargo space. With Vok we know they’ll always deliver the best solution for our needs.”