Indrek Petjärv started building electric formula racing cars as a student in 2014 in Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn. After four highly successful years, the team founded a micromobility engineering company.
“During that experience we got a thorough understanding of the mobility market and identified the cargo bike sector as the biggest market gap,” he says. Two years later, Vok Bikes was launched.
On this week’s Mobility Moments we talk to Petjärv, co-founder and CEO of Vok Bikes, about scaling up and the importance of cleaning up the last mile.
Describe the Vok bike and its key features.
The Vok bike is a four-wheel cargo bike with a large built-in cargo compartment. It is intuitive and weatherproof to support heavy courier duty. The bike currently runs at 25 km/h maximum speed with a range of 100 km.
Vok bikes are categorised as bicycles in terms of legal rights and requirements but are considerably more stable and safe. Voks have a large cargo space as compared to a bicycle.
While our competitors are building bikes with off-the-shelf parts for the average consumer, Vok is heavily focused on custom developments from batteries to tires. We are constantly improving our product to reduce the need for maintenance and extend its life span by optimising it for durability to serve extended courier work in the sharing economy. Our bike is designed to keep total cost of ownership (TCO) as low as possible, at the same time increasing its stability and safety.
The Vok bike has ABS braking system and traction control, which is brand new to the micromobility sector. Basically, with the Vok bike, we have built a new and better concept in the framework of the cargo bike law.
How safe are they?
The Vok bikes are already the safest cargo bikes on the market with their unique electronic driving aids, like ABS braking system and traction control already in place and emergency braking and speed control in development.
Why is it so important to clean up the last mile?
Urban areas are changing for sustainability and efficiency and, most probably, the solutions of today will not solve the issues of tomorrow. Expanding car-free zones and introducing car taxes and speed limits are only a few examples of the urban trends that make cars increasingly inefficient for last-mile delivery.
Our pilot project with the Estonian postal service Omniva proved a 40% increase in the cost-efficiency of its deliveries with cargo bikes in a city where there is almost no micromobility infrastructure.
Explain your partnership with Stuart Delivery in London.
Stuart is offering its couriers Vok’s electric cargo bikes through an on-demand short-term rental model. The bikes are available to couriers in Shoreditch and the surrounding areas. Vok helps Stuart to provide environmentally-friendly transport types to couriers to minimise its overall impact on the environment.
How sustainable/circular is your manufacturing process?
The lifetime carbon emissions of the Vok bike are 24 times less than what a car would produce. The bike is optimised for durability which means that it has a long lifespan, reducing waste. Even after 4-5 years of heavy-duty, our bikes are still in a good enough condition to be refurbished. Most of the material we use in building the bike is recyclable.
The bikes are manufactured in Estonia and their custom-made parts are sourced from Europe.
How will you use your latest round of funding?
The investment will support our expansion and product development. We are building a new factory in Estonia to meet the needs of the fast-growing billion-euro cargo bike market.
The new factory, which is expected to open in early 2023, will hold a production capacity of 20 000 cargo bikes per year. We are also increasing our 35-member team 2to 3 times this year, hiring people for the new production unit as well as for operations, finance, sales, and marketing.
What will urban mobility/last-mile logistics look like by 2030?
There has never been a bigger demand for last-mile delivery than today. The number of last-mile deliveries is expected to grow by 78% worldwide by 2030. Most probably the last mile logistics will entail a combination of different solutions, using cargo bikes, robots, and other innovative technology. Cars will certainly play a minimal role in the last mile delivery.
Vok bikes will play an important role in overcoming logistical challenges, ensuring the overall reliability of heavy-duty cargo bikes on the market and increasing the convenience of courier work (increasing ease of use and mitigating the effects of tricky weather conditions).