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This electric ‘urban sled’ is a model for a future of emission-free deliveries

In crowded cities, electric cargo bikes have some obvious advantages over typical delivery vans. They’re small enough to squeeze through traffic jams, so deliveries are faster. When they stop for deliveries, they’re less likely to block lanes and add to congestion. And they don’t add to pollution.

Most cargo bikes (technically, trikes) tested by shipping companies look fairly similar, with a rider in front and a box or two filled with deliveries in the back. But over the last couple of months, engineers at Polestar, the Volvo-owned electric car brand, have been experimenting with an even simpler vehicle for urban deliveries. Instead of a bike, it looks like a giant scooter. It’s made from lightweight aluminum and it can fit in a bike lane, but it can hold as much as 600 pounds.

“It’s all a question of, in the future, finding the appropriate ways to transport and being able to scale it to the occasion,” says Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath. Sometimes it might make sense to make a delivery by drone or a small robot that travels down the sidewalk; sometimes a cargo bike or the new vehicle, which designers call an “urban sled,” might be better for the job.

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