The ecommerce market is heating up across the globe, giving a much needed boost to food and general consumer goods delivery service companies. We have covered quite a few delivery service startups that are looking to scale, including Greenspoon of Kenya, MyFoodness from Botswana, and Pedal Me from the United Kingdom. A lot of firms in the delivery service industry are looking to electric vehicles ranging from e-bikes and electric scooters to electric vans as they seek to unlock operational efficiencies and cost savings through lower maintenance costs and downtime.
Stellenbosch-based MellowVans seeks to help firms across the globe in this space in their quest to unlock operational efficiencies and cost savings by providing them with low cost and emission-free transport. MellowVans develops, manufactures, and leases electric three-wheeler cargo vans that appear to hit the sweet spot of the delivery vehicle market. These three-wheeler electric delivery vehicles make perfect sense in a world where the majority of urban trips are around 5 km or less and a huge chunk of transportation costs are incurred in this last mile phase. Urban trips account for a significant chunk of CO2 emissions. As much as 39% of CO2 emissions in Kenya, for example, are from the transport sector.
The MellowVans allow a much higher load capacity than a motorcycle and are just the right size, capturing the market somewhere in-between motorcycles and small diesel delivery vans. More efficiencies can be unlocked from “right sizing” vehicles as on many occasions firms dispatch larger fossil-powered vehicles with a load that can easily fit in a vehicle the size of a MellowVan. The MellowVan has been designed with both general parcels and food delivery in mind. MellowVans says its electric van has “More than enough room for parcels, and affordable enough to deliver food.” It has a lockable cargo area that has a decent 2.4 cubic meters of cargo space with a maximum load capacity of 150 kg.
MellowVans also want to lower the barriers to entry by offering its electric vans on a lease model. As the world is entering a recession from the coronavirus-induced slowdown, companies are expected to be a bit more circumspect when it comes to their expenditures. Many may put capex-related activities on hold and the no deposit lease plan that ensure opex savings would be welcomed with open arms at this time.
The MellowVans leasing model offers several advantages including:
- Lower, more affordable running costs
- Comprehensive Insurance
- A brand new vehicle every 3 years
- Mechanical Maintenance
- You only pay for wear & tear
- Tracking (including vehicle recovery)
Neil du Preez (founder and CEO), says for now MellowVans is exclusively focusing on the leasing model. “Leasing is the norm for commercial vehicles in Europe, and most of our clients prefer leasing. Uber drivers have also shown us that individual leasing can work effectively in South Africa.” This model has already gained significant traction as MellowVans has signed up customers in Europe and Southern Africa. “We’re in the Netherlands, Belgium, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and very soon we’ll have vehicles in Kenya, which is very exciting for us. We’re gearing up for EU homologation (roadworthy testing), where after we can actively pursue the EU market. There’s also a good possibility that we’ll have a presence in Australia and New Zealand very soon.”
MellowVans is opening up its leasing offer to individual drivers as well. “We’re finalizing a deal where we’ll lease our Vans to Takealot/Mr.D drivers directly, enabling them to lease their own delivery vehicle.” This would be a welcome initiative that will empower the drivers and offer much needed job opportunities for many others who will lease vehicles and become their own bosses, similar to what Uber has done in South Africa. MellowVans says its vehicles also “offer premium branding space in high-value environments,” thereby providing an additional revenue stream.
In another boost for the South African manufacturing industry, 60% of the components that go into a MellowVan are locally sourced. The chassis, shell, battery packaging and management systems are all locally produced. “Our standard battery pack is about 9 kWh (Lithium Iron Phosphate), which is good for around 100km per charge. The LiFePo chemistry is a good trade-off between lifetime, safety, weight and price. Our motor is a 4kW motor, as dictated by homologation requirements.”
The home delivery market worldwide is experiencing an unprecedented surge in demand from consumers after many nations implemented a range of movement restrictions ranging from issuing strong social distancing guidance to Stay at Home Orders to Full Lockdowns. Let’s hope the strong focus on the delivery service industry provides a sustainable addressable market for these kind of electric delivery vehicles.
All images courtesy of MellowVans