Last week we went to see the chaps at podshare, a Britsol-based startup that's offering short- or long-term hire of electric trikes across the city for retail or delivery. You can have one for half a day for a one-off job or get one on a rolling monthly comntract if you're making deliveries every day.
"I started the company with my friend Paddy, an electrical engineer, in the Summer after graduating from Bath university in Mechanical engineering. We were awarded grant funding from the Department for transport as well as (both) winning innovation scholarships from the University of Bath to get the company off the ground and haven’t looked back.", podhsare's Guy Barkley told us. "We initially started looking at doing commuter vehicles; there was a lot of blue-sky thinking about how you could have electrified rails and super-cheap infrastructure that would fire people into city centres safely, with the last mile by electric vehicle. But then we started getting interested in businesses who wanted to deliver in a more sustainable way. So we transferred some of the stuff we'd done onto a cargo chassis."
The trike itself is a front-loader with a carrying capacity of 100kg; some of the vehicles open at the side which can turn the trike into an impromptu market stall and the others are top-loaders for deliveries. Each trike has a 'magic box' which controls the 300 LED lights on the front of the trike (configurable via a smartphone app) and also contains a WiFi and a GPS chip. That opens the door for lots of other functionality: knowing where all the trikes are means podshare can offer fleet tracking and optimisation to make deliveries quicker, and it also means they'll be able to locate or remotely disable a trike if it goes missing.
"Longer term, we are looking to implement more on-demand app-based services to clients", Guy says. "Internally, we aim to expand the range of vehicle data we can take remotely, both live and at the end of the day over wi-fi, improving the service. This allows us to optimise use of fleet, monitor battery levels in real time, map usage, enhance security etc. We’ll soon be able to update live over air, similar to Tesla, as well as other cool stuff we have in the pipeline. Our vehicles are getting smarter and smarter!"
The trikes are made in the UK to podhsare's own design, and the electric assist is a standard retrofittable system with a 250W rear hub motor. At the moment the company has three vehicles, with a plan to expand to 12 in Bristol, and then on to other locations in the UK. They've had plenty of interest from both delivery companies and individual traders, as well as one-off hires for events.
To find out more about the service or to arrange a go on one of the trikes, head over to the podshare website at www.podshare.co.uk