Smart Mobility Challenge Successfully Completed

13th January 2022

2021 was a big year for Kale Collective. In May we applied to enter the Mayor of London’s Resilience Fund Smart Mobility innovation challenge. In June we submitted our proposal, in July we were chosen as winners of the challenge, and in September we moved into our new offices.

The rest of 2021 we worked with King’s College and Better Bankside developing a tool, Kalefleet, to help urban businesses use their delivery vehicles more efficiently. It specifically focuses on identifying opportunities to switch to electric cargo bikes and electric vans.

You can try our app here.

Many organisations struggle with changing their operations: it’s easier to continue with a system that already works, and the upfront costs of a transition can hide the long term benefits.

Yet the potential for change is huge.

For example, 39% of van trips in London operate at less than a quarter full. Many of those could be substituted by cargo bikes, with direct economical benefits, faster speeds in a congested city centre, and drastic environmental benefits. Similarly, a number of tax incentives and developments in EV technology make the switch to an electric fleet more and more attractive. In the UK, 97% of vans are still powered by diesel.

The Case of King’s College London

For decision makers and operators, making data-driven decisions is key. Keeping track of operations and costs can be time consuming, and collecting data is usually not on top of the list of priorities. Many trips happen on demand, and operators might not know how the different vehicles are being used.

With Kalefleet, we’ve made it easy to upload the data you have at hand, while filling in the gap with informative estimates to 1) evaluate current operations and 2) give strategic advice on how to be more effective. Through interactive visuals, our app breaks down projected savings, and the environmental impact of 7 different types of strategic actions (e.g. electrify a van, remoding to an e-cargo bike, or consolidating journeys).

Below, our tool crunches the GPS data of the vans in King’s fleet and A) estimates their yearly climate budget and B) identifies how the fleet can be changed to improve the climate impact.

Screenshot of climate impact breakdown which is 8.8 tonnes CO₂ distributed on 7 vans. Some vans drive much more than others.
Yearly CO₂ emitted by King's College's vans.
Screenshot of vehicles that can be switched to cargo bikes. If all 6 possible vans were replaced the total carbon footprint would be 2.1 tonnes of CO₂, a reduction of 76.1%.
Overview of vans that could be replaced with cargo bikes.

Through our data collection efforts, we found 6 out of 7 King’s vans make trips that are mostly very short distances (less than 20min cycle), and the majority of trips were with loads equivalent to the size of one or two boxes, thus easily carried on an e-cargo bike.

The figure below shows the trip length distribution of a typical van.

Distribution of trip distances of a single van. The majority of trips are shorter than 5 km, a few are between 5 and 10 km long and no trips are longer than 15 km.
Distribution of trip length of one van. Most trips are shorter than 10km long. The van is rarely fully loaded and most of these trips could be done more efficiently by an electric cargo bike.

King’s operates in central London where the average speed of an electric bicycle is quicker than of a van. Switching to a cargo bike therefore not only reduces the climate impact but also saves time and money. We estimated that the benefits of making the change could be up to 76.1% in CO₂ reduction, £12,108 in yearly financial benefit, and 1,689 driving hours per year saved.

One surprising insight that came from our analysis, was that substituting the most used van (which is electric) with an e-cargo bike would have a bigger environmental impact than electrifying some of the less used vans, simply due to the greater number of miles driven.

You can try Kalefleet here.

Looking forward

King’s College’s operation team has used these insights to start improving their fleet and take actions with the largest climate impact. This project would not have been a success without the excellent collaboration with Amandeep Kellay from Better Bankside, Nicola Hogan from King’s College London and the rest of the King’s operations team.

We have had a great start to 2022 and are already brewing on some new, exciting projects. Stay tuned for what’s to come! 🎉

Get in touch if you have any comments, questions, or just want to reach out.