Electric bicycles have grown to become the de-facto standard for logistics in developed economies in the past few years. E-bikes offer a sustainable, economical, and convenient transportation option that can take riders up to 60KM on a full charge. Of course, with the opportunity for conventional pedaling, the actual distance of travel for an e-bike is virtually unlimited. Given the current fuel crisis in Sri Lanka, these factors show that e-bikes are a solid alternative transportation option.
Recently, PickMe entered into a partnership with RHODA, a Sri Lankan e-bike manufacturer, to complement its delivery operations. Already initial tests carried out by this partnership have proven that the locally built e-bike is an economic game-changer for the riders that keep these logistics services running to support local businesses. The collaboration is a notable example of local companies coming together to address the pressing challenges we face today.
The RHODA e-bike: A PickMe rider’s new best friend
First announced in 2020, RHODA is a locally designed e-bike designed around three fundamental principles – to be convenient, sustainable, and economical. Following testing, the company recently began shipping out its initial batch of e-bikes to early adopters. Speaking to Arteculate, Co-Founder and CEO of RHODA, Eyas Fazul, shared that company faced several challenges due to changing economic conditions. Despite this, the overall response from its early adopters remains positive, and the company is now eyeing commercial orders.
Likewise, PickMe identified the RHODA as an imperative complement to its delivery operations with PickMe Food and PickMe Flash. As a result, the logistics company has agreed on the purchase and deployment of many e-bikes. PickMe also announced that it’d be opening up registrations for e-bikes. Through these efforts, PickMe aims to empower its drivers while strengthening the local economy.
CEO of PickMe, Jiffry Zulfer, stated the company is “Doing our bit to come out of oil dependency” and save vital foreign exchange. Sharing his thoughts on the partnership, Eyas said, “We at RHODA see PickMe’s drivers as unsung heroes helping keep the economy afloat. They enable restaurants, grocers, and small businesses to operate amidst the country’s chaos.”
The potential of e-bikes with PickMe Food
At the onset of the initiative, Eyas undertook the challenge of testing the e-bike for 3 hours as a PickMe delivery driver. “I wanted to understand better what the drivers go through,” he recalls. The 3-hour journey took him from Mount Lavinia to Thimbirigasaya and back. At the end of this experiment, he earned LKR 1,200 and a few tips. The entire amount went directly into his pocket. His only cost was LKR 5 for 0.5 units of electricity spent to charge the battery to 50%.
These figures are in sharp contrast to a typical motorcycle, where riders have to bear the costs of insurance, leases, and fuel. “The drivers can only save a small portion of their income. With the rising cost of fuel and time spent in the queues, they are suffering to make ends meet in this crisis,” Eyas conveys. Further, the stark difference in running costs shows how e-bikes can go a long way toward reducing the nation’s need for importing fuel. Moreover, these findings show why e-bikes have become the de-facto standard for the last-mile delivery of light goods by logistics companies in developed countries.
As the e-bike is essentially a bicycle, navigating the streets of Sri Lanka also becomes relatively more straightforward. The standard rules and exceptions for traveling via a bicycle apply. For example, missed turns can be rectified by crossing the road on zebra crossings without waiting for the next available U-turn. Moreover, PickMe believes that e-bikes traversing traffic-packed streets will be easier as they are less bulky than scooters and motorbikes. “While RHODA offers the option to use manual pedaling if a driver encounters a steep incline, they can easily switch to using the motor to climb it with ease,” explains Eyas.
PickMe x RHODA: An Economic Game-changer
Along with reducing the demand for imported fuel, RHODA e-bikes are an economic game-changer for PickMe’s drivers. It allows them to drastically reduce their costs and take home a more significant portion of their daily income. Eyas announced that the company intends to release its latest version of e-bikes soon, which will be available for PickMe to use for their deliveries.
Looking forward, PickMe leveraging e-bikes through this partnership opens the door for electric transportation to be the de-facto norm for last-mile deliveries. As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. The collaboration between these two local companies has offered a solid solution to help alleviate the current crisis. Thereby preserving our valuable foreign reserves, helping small businesses in trying times, and strengthening local manufacturing. All of which ultimately contribute to strengthening Sri Lanka’s economy.