The traditional postie bike is being replaced by new electric vehicles which Australia Post says will keep postmen safer, improve communication and equip them for ecommerce.
The three-wheeled electric delivery vehicles (eDVs) can carry over 100 small parcels and up to 1,200 letters.
Mitch Buxton, General Manager of Business Efficiency and Optimisation at Australia Post, says the eDVs are far superior to the traditional bike, with more capacity and additional safety features and communication tools.
“They’re a stable platform and they have added features in relation to better capacity, with nearly 450L of carrying capacity compared to a motorcycle and a pushbike, which only has 130,” he told Government News.
“From a safety point of view, we actually have a roof on these vehicles to give it 100 per cent UV protection for our riders, it’s also great for magpies, I’ve got to say.”
Mr Buxton says the technology enables posties to contact Australia Post while they are on the road.
“All the vehicles also come with telematics and cameras that help protect our staff while they’re out there,” he said.
“We also have the ability for our drivers to alert us if they either are feeling ill, through those telematics, or they’re encountering aggressive behaviour or so forth while they’re doing their job.
“The reality for us is that we’re trying to stay ahead of what we know, how the business is changing and what our customers are after.”
Along with added storage capacity, the vehicles also have automatic locking that doesn’t require a key, and the vehicles have a longer lifespan.
“We used to get about three and a half years out of a motorcycle, these vehicles are expected to run for seven years,” Mr Buxton said.
Staying ahead of the game
The idea for the eDVs was taken from a Swiss Post model, Mr Buxton said. Australia Post adapted that model and added on features tailored for the Aussie postie.
“The reality for us is that we’re trying to stay ahead of what we know, how the business is changing and what our customers are after,” he said.
“And the forefront of this is that we want the right vehicles for our staff to keep them as safe as possible but also to make them absolutely sustainable into the future with their jobs.
“Motorcycles have been fantastic for decades but they were very much aligned to letter delivery and probably not so suited for parcel-type products.”
“We’re looking at being able to service ecommerce parcels, those parcels we know are really being sought after by our customers, they tend to be higher value goods and we need to protect their product as a custodian of that product all the way until we actually deliver it to the person,” Mr Buxton said.
A changing market
Although the response from posties has mostly been positive, not all of them are on board. Some are unhappy with the decrease in speed of the new vehicles. Motorcycles can currently go 80km/h but the new vehicles can only travel 45km/h, Mr Buxton says.
However, posties recognise that the times are changing, and the products they now need to deliver are bigger and bulkier.
“For our guys, they’ve seen the decline in mail. Our posties understand that things are changing, the market’s changing, and therefore, they’re looking for things that are going to make their jobs sustainable and provide the same service they always have for the customer,” Mr Buxton said.
“The reality is they can go for longer, they can carry more, they don’t need to refuel as often, and there are trade-offs at the end of the day, especially when you look at it from a safety point of view, (but) this is where we see the benefits,” Mr Buxton said.
While the postie bike has been a helpful vehicle for posties, Mr Buxton says that they will eventually be phased out.
“Motorcycles have been fantastic for decades but they were very much aligned to letter delivery and probably not so suited for parcel-type products,” he said.
“There is no doubt that the numbers of motorcycles over the next few years are going to drop dramatically, there’s no doubt about that, and you’ll see more of these types of vehicles and potentially new ones as well.”
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