Technology company Port has today launched the world’s first ‘dark hub’ – a group of state-of-the-art electric vehicles, locked and charged in dedicated docking stations deployed in an inner-city, off-street parking site - that empowers London’s last-mile industry to switch to electric and reduce its vast CO2 footprint. The hub has been launched in partnership with Q-Park, Europe’s leading parking operator, at their Leicester Square car park which they are repurposing as a Mobility Hub.
The mobility-as-a-service dark hub concept enables individual couriers or delivery firms to rent small delivery EVs (including electric bikes, cargo e-bikes, mopeds, or scooters) from a Port urban car park location. EVs are hired on a weekly or monthly subscription through the Port app, and the vehicle, parking, charging, maintenance, and software are all provided by Port.
Once the courier has picked up the vehicle from the hub at any time, they undertake their deliveries before returning the EV to the hub at the end of their working day. The vehicle is locked, parked, and charged overnight and then ready to be rented the next day. The long-range and battery capabilities of the EV mean it can be used for an entire day of work.
The £1 trillion last-mile delivery industry (including parcel, food, and grocery couriers) is predicted to grow 10% annually, requiring new tailorable, scalable tech-based solutions that fulfill growing EV fleet needs. With regulatory requirements pressuring more last-mile delivery companies to switch to electric, the dark hubs are designed to support the industry’s move towards net zero.
The platform also removes all the courier companies’ electric fleet parking, charging, maintaining, financing, and managing burdens. Offered to both independent couriers and delivery firms, Port’s dark hubs mean courier companies can automate currently labor-intensive fleet management tasks and unlock the full potential of EVs.
At a time of courier shortages, the hubs will also empower more drivers to enter the industry. Building Port’s dark hubs in city centers activates a suburban workforce that is currently untapped by the last-mile delivery industry, as suburban workers are largely unable to cover the long distance between their homes and the city center by e-bike or moped. The dark hubs will enable them to commute into the city center and pick up their fully charged vehicle for the day.
The dark hub launch follows two years of R&D by Port, who have built every aspect of the dark hub platform – including the proprietary hardware and software – from the ground up. At the heart of the system is the world’s first, patented universal docking station that can lock and charge any small electric vehicle. As a result, Port offers a wide range of EVs to best meet the needs of industry players – including deliverers of food, parcels, and groceries.
Following successful trials in Madrid, the company is now taking its first steps to expand across Europe – with plans to enter the Barcelona market next. Visit port.app for more details.
Q-Park was an ideal partner for Port, their safe and secure facilities are located in the heart of most major centers in the UK and the Leicester Square car park was a great location for couriers to get an electric vehicle before heading out to pick up deliveries.
Q-Park has recognized the need for innovation in its industry due to the changes in how people travel into cities. Q-Park has been at the forefront of the European Parking industry in the creation of Sustainable Mobility Hubs. The aim is to develop parking facilities into vital instruments to help realize urban accessibility, sustainability, and liveability. In addition to car parking, Q-Park is also aiming to provide access to shared mobility schemes, electric vehicle charging, last-mile delivery, and retail space all within their safe and secure parking facilities. To find out more about Q-Park Mobility Hubs click here.
Kamil Suda, Founder, Port said: “We are hugely excited to be launching our first Port dark hub in the heart of London. Electrification of the last mile delivery industry is both a great challenge and opportunity; we want to bring Port’s solution to every major city to help the sector reach net zero and fully capitalize on the benefits of small EVs.”
John Denton, Head of Sales and Marketing at Q-Park UK said: “We are delighted that Port has decided to work with us to operate from our Leicester Square car park. We believe that our safe and secure facilities offer an ideal location for Port vehicles to be located and easily accessed by couriers. We are delighted to once again demonstrate why we are at the forefront of Sustainable Urban Mobility.”
Q-Park is notable for its quality approach and has a portfolio comprising over 3,300 parking facilities with more than 640,000 parking spaces in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Great Britain, France, Ireland and Denmark.