Big box update: IKEA

IKEA trials Australia's first electric tuk-tuks for city deliveries

The tuk-tuk-style vehicles will be used from its Tempe store in high-density urban areas around Sydney

IKEA will debut the electric tuk-tuks as a "last mile" - the final journey of cargo and parcels from distribution centre to the customer - delivery vehicle in early 2023. It will enable the home improvement retailer to drop off parcels without polluting the air in heavily populated areas. The three-month trial is part of the big box retailer's move to reach its global goal to provide all customers with zero-emission deliveries by 2025.

The tuk-tuks were unveiled by last-mile delivery specialist ANC, and rental and fleet management group ORIX Australia Corporation. The specially designed electric tuk-tuk is manufactured by BILITI Electric in India and imported exclusively by Brisbane company EMoS.

The vehicle comes in flatpack form with assembly required. It has a maximum carry limit of 625kg including the delivery driver and is limited to a top speed of 50km/h with an effective range of 100km. While it lacks delivery van safety features such as airbags, the tuk-tuk's seatbelt, windscreen and third-wheel stability offer advantages over conventional scooters. The electric three-wheelers also have swappable 9kWh batteries. Their drivers will need to wear helmets.

IKEA Australia chief executive Mirja Viinanen said the tuk-tuk was a natural fit for the company, as "customers have increasing expectations for the retail sector to reduce the environmental impact of its delivery services". Ms Viinanen is also the company's chief sustainability officer.

IKEA led the way as the first Australian home furnishing retailer to implement home deliveries with electric vehicles. We are committed to this (2025) goal and want to bring the retail sector on the journey with us, so we are calling on the government to help us get there by introducing targeted incentives and charging infrastructure for last-mile delivery and logistics.

According to The Driven website, electric trucks remain expensive and although there is an expected "after-market" in used batteries - for homes and the grid - the monetary benefits of that remain ill defined. The partnership with Orix will help create a "capital light" expansion into EVs, and demonstrate that the running costs are favourable, and better than renting. Orix CEO Reggie Cabal told The Driven:

It's still early days for EVs as fleet vehicles and there are still many challenges, however, partnering with like-minded organisations helps overcome barriers and creates greener, more sustainable outcomes.

He said many companies are in a "holding pattern" as they seek to understand the market and the technology.

We are helping remove the complexity for delivery professionals to adopt EVs by aligning vehicles, infrastructure, energy and optimisation into a single, practical plan for a decarbonised fleet future. It's important we act now.
  • Sources: Australian Financial Review, Daily Telegraph and The Driven
  • Middle image from ANC Facebook
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