Australia Post has been forced to take its entire fleet of new electric delivery vehicles off the road due to safety concerns as it begins its busiest time of the year.
Removing the three-wheel vehicles from service comes as Australians send a record number of parcels through the post in the lead up to Christmas.
‘They’ve all been pulled from use Australia-wide,’ a source told Daily Mail Australia. ‘Three weeks out from Christmas, on a Monday. It’s created chaos obviously.’
Australia Post began trialling the electric delivery vehicles (eDVs), which have triple the carrying capacity of standard motorbikes, in 2017 and ordered 1,000 more of them this year.
The eDVs are supposed to be the future of parcel delivery for the postal service and will make Australia Post the nation’s largest electric fleet operator.
Posties have dubbed the electric trikes ‘Mr Bean’ buggies after the three-wheel Reliant Regal that Rowan Atkinson’s hapless character routinely ran off the road in the British comedy TV series.
Australia Post has been forced to take its entire fleet of new electric delivery vehicles (pictured) off the road due to safety concerns as it begins its busiest time of the year
Christmas mail volumes are already greater than they were at the same time last year. Over the peak period Australia Post expects to deliver up to 3.5 million parcels on its busiest day
Members of the union which covers postal workers, the CEPU, were informed of the withdrawal of all eDVs by text message on Saturday afternoon.
They were told the vehicles were being taken off the road ‘immediately and until further notice’ after a ‘safety incident’ late last week.
An Australia Post spokesman said the government-owned corporation had taken ‘precautionary action to temporarily withdraw’ the fleet of vehicles.
It was working with the Swiss manufacturer to address safety concerns with the front axle of the vehicles.
‘The safety of our people is paramount, importantly no one has been injured due to this issue, and we will only commence delivery with these vehicles once the manufacturer can confirm all axle issues are addressed,’ the spokesman said.
‘At this stage we don’t expect any impact to delivery services during this busy time of year.’
Australia Post’s group chief operating officer Bob Black said in February the 1,000 new eDVs would benefit posties, customers and the environment.
‘We are proud to soon be operating Australia’s largest fleet of electric vehicles, and hope this will set the standard across Australia,’ Mr Black said.
‘With parcel volumes growing – on average, close to 10 per cent each year for the last three years – and letter volumes declining, we’re always looking for ways to ensure our posties continue to play an important and sustainable role in the community.
‘These vehicles offer additional carrying capacity, so our posties can deliver more parcels than ever before directly to the customer’s door – and can perform additional functions, such as collecting mail from street posting boxes.’
Posties have called the electric trikes ‘Mr Bean buggies’ after the three-wheel Reliant Regal (pictured) Rowan Atkinson’s hapless comic TV creation routinely runs off the road with his Mini
Australia Post began trialling the eDVs (pictured) in Tasmania in and they have since been deployed in all states
Last year Australia Post delivered more than 40 million parcels in December, and twice delivered more than 3 million parcels in a day.
This year, it says volumes are already greater than they were at the same time last year. Over the peak period it expects to deliver up to 3.5 million parcels on its busiest day.
Mr Black said the electric vehicles also offered added safety and environmental protections.
‘The eDVs are safer than the traditional motorcycle,’ he said. ‘They are easier to see on the road, more stable, have increased rider protection and lower on-road speeds, all of which reduce a postie’s exposure to incidents and serious accidents.’
The three-wheel base allowed greater stability, an over-head tinted canopy protected drivers from the elements and the silent electric motor was kinder on dogs’ ears.
Australia Post has even boasted the eDVs, which can legally be used on footpaths, made posties safer from magpie attacks.
Members of the union which covers postal workers, the CEPU, were informed of the withdrawal of all eDVs by text message on Saturday afternoon
Each electric delivery vehicle can take about 1,200 letters and 100 small parcels – approximately three times more capacity than the typical postie motorbike
The carrier began trialling the eDVs in Tasmania in and they have since been deployed in all states.
‘We have worked closely with our posties to make improvements along the way,’ Mr Black said.
‘Our posties love the eDVs because they demonstrate our commitment to providing safer and more sustainable employment into the future… ‘
The vehicles are designed to carry 195kg, including the driver, and have a capacity of 450 litres.
Each can take about 1,200 letters and 100 small parcels – approximately three times more capacity than the typical postie motorbike.
Last year Australia Post delivered more than 40 million parcels in December, and twice delivered more than 3 million parcels in a day
The vehicles can reach speeds up to 45km/h and have a battery charge range of nine hours.
They are meant to complement rather than replace Australia Post’s current delivery fleet and will be used ‘where it makes sense to do so.’
Traditional motorbikes last about three and a half years in Australia Post service but the company expects each eDV to run for about seven years.
The eDVs were designed, developed and manufactured in Switzerland.
Australia Post’s latest annual report states it invested about $50 million in vehicles in the past year.