Motorized tricycle tested in Switzerland


UPS's "rolling laboratory" includes a three-wheel delivery vehicle well suited for narrow streets.

For decades, UPS's iconic brown fleet has been an international symbol for: Hey, there's a delivery coming! While the delivery truck does well with hauling large boxes, navigating congested, centuries-old roads – especially those in European center cities – is more challenging.

“Cargo bikes offer a distinct advantage to UPS, as it reduces the time spent on searching for a suitable parking position, saving valuable time.” – Philip Healey, marketing manager for UPS Switzerland.

Through its "rolling laboratory" – a fleet of more than 5,000 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles – UPS tests options for alternative fuels and technologies in real time across various terrains. UPS has been exploring the economic viability and environmental benefits of electrical-powered cargo bikes for package pickup and delivery with a pilot in downtown Basel, Switzerland. The city, packed (quite literally) to the brim with 13th-century architecture and narrow streets, is an ideal testing ground for the new three-wheeled delivery vehicle. However, this is not the first time UPS has put its delivery innovations on European streets. Battery-aided cargo bikes are already used in Hamburg, Germany, for example.

The battery-supported tricycles used in Basel can carry loads weighing more than 325 pounds. Thanks to its compact design and width of just 40 inches, the bike makes sense for urban use.

"By using cargo bikes in a targeted manner, UPS aims to reduce inner-city congestion, noise and emissions," says Philip Healey, marketing manager for UPS Switzerland. "This form of urban delivery also offers a distinct advantage to UPS itself, as it reduces the time spent on searching for a suitable parking position, saving valuable time."

The Basel pilot project is part of the global UPS initiative to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. For more information on UPS's sustainability efforts, visit To see how UPS is progressing to meet ambitious sustainability goals, click here


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Motorcycle licenses aren't required if the state recognizes it as an electric bicycle, however. And, if they're running this in Switzerland, it's probably set up within the limits of any state's electric bicycle laws (if they have any) - Switzerland follows the EU regulations but with more power allowed - so, the motor only works up to 25 km/h (about 15.5 mph), it requires pedaling to work, and is a maximum of 500 watts (as opposed to 250 watts for the EU). In the US, the federal law (which many states follow) is 20 mph, no pedaling required, and 750 watts.
They could park "Mother Trucks" in strategic city locations and then send out the 3 wheeled vehicles. Even though they will have more delivery staff they could significantly increase production while saving on fuel and large truck costs.
I don't think they'll use them in San Francisco as it is too steep and not enough power to pull any significant weight. Good for flat land areas like Florida, etc.
Kudos to UPS for practicality. For rural America, they might want to consider a more utilitarian vehicle as well, something more SUV-like.
I believe the article said '3 wheeled' vehicles...
Which brings up a point. In the USA most states require a motorcycle license for driving a 2-wheeled vehicle.
I'm pretty sure they will only use this in certain areas San Fran, NYC (where parking is limited). They can place pods as a camp or check point to avoid making numerous trips. They are trying to move toward cleaner energy and reducing noise. It's nothing new but for the U.S., it shows flexibility to change.
rey wilson
Those have been used in central America since the beginning of the 80's, so not new to many people :)
For those looking for a similar vehicle...
As for them being too small - DUH! They can always be elongated... The things in Vietnam used to carry 6 to 8 humans, and with much smaller and inefficient engines. This is a very doable thing.
They've been using vehicles like this (just not as advanced) in Asia for decades. (Used as cabs in Vietnam back in the 60's). It's about time the rest of the world catches on.
Corn binder
Think so too. like Merle Haggard says if you don't love it leave it
where do I get one?
Are you kidding? I want one. I would love to have an alternative vehicle for city driving close to home.
Not many years, we won't ever see them. We don't have them because it's incredibly inefficient and wasteful. Do you see how small the cargo area is? I wouldn't be surprised if it carries less than 1/8 the cargo of a standard UPS delivery truck in the U.S. Our roads are much wider and designed to handle the size vehicles we use. If you love the whole European thing, move to Europe, instead of trying to re-invent the U.S., which most of the world is trying to emulate, into something else.
What took them so long? It will be many years b4 we see this long overdue shift in America...if ever. Our policy makers prefer big gas-guzzling behemoths
The time saved looking for parking will be offset by having to run back to the warehouse four times a day for more packages to deliver. What hair brain thought this up?
Ken Decroo
As a avid motorcyclist, I support this!!!!

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