ONO: Practical, innovative and versatile mobility solutions for redesigning the urban landscape
An interview published as part of ONO’s participation to the Sustainable Mobility Forum by Hub Institute.
In terms of urban mobility, more and more solutions are appearing, although there are few major players in the sector. ONO Motion with its mobility services meets this need, in particular through the transportation of goods and people using electric vehicles adapted to city traffic. Vieran Hodko is responsible for expanding the ONO brand and its partnerships. Here are his answers to questions from the HUB Institute about his vision of the mobility market as well ONO’s role and added value in the current context.
HUB Institute: What do you feel have been the developing trends over the past few years in terms of mobility?
Vieran Hodko: Firstly in terms of bikes and cycle paths, we are noting an acceleration in the creation of new infrastructures. There is increasing amount of outside investment in micro-mobility, through scooters and cargo bikes. There is also a noticeable increase in individual mobility and a rise in collective mobility and delivery services. Lastly and most importantly, there is a definite lack of products on the market, and still no “industry champion” in commercial mobility, for the largest sizes.
HUB Institute: In what ways is ONO’s e-cargobike a new means of transport, and what are the special features of this vehicle? How does it differ from others?
VH: The concept of the cargo bike is not new. We are different in that we have come directly from the automotive sector: we co-developed our vehicles with large automotive suppliers who build and assemble chassis for well-known German car brands, and they guided us in constructing the vehicle. Our idea for the connected cargo bike came about after studies with some of the biggest operators, such as the La Poste Group, Swiss Post and Hermès. In addition to design, what companies are looking for is durability, safety and a long life: ONO’s approach is to develop industrial quality for manufacturing the vehicles.
We have designed cabins that are safe and weather-resistant for drivers. Our cargo space at the back has the largest storage capacity on the market and is highly versatile. For example, if a logistics operator wants to deliver parcels in the morning and Covid vaccines in the afternoon, this is possible as the modules can be adapted to different markets and needs.
HUB Institute: Logistical problems on the “last mile”: what are the advantages of e-cargobikes for cities?
VH: There are two main added values:
- Parking: in the majority of large European cities, finding somewhere to park is a luxury. ONO vehicles are half the width of a lorry, so much more physically suited to European cities.
- In terms of logistics, there is a noticeable and significant turnover in employees and companies have problems finding drivers. With ONO there is no need for a driving licence, so recruitment possibilities are much greater.
HUB Institute: ONO’s position is primarily on the delivery market. What are your plans for the company’s future? Would you like to cover all urban mobility sectors eventually?
VH: In terms of logistics, when we launched the co-development, we focused on delivering parcels, then delivering groceries and fresh foods and from there things took off! Our third market is in maintenance services: making mobile workshops available for small business owners, such as plumbers, decorators, etc. We are talking to IKEA in particular, about furniture delivery, and also for the transportation of fresh produce and waste management.
HUB Institute: Is it true that Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris, has expressed a strong interest in ONO? Might we see your vehicles on the streets of Paris?
VH: We were invited to Paris two years ago by ENGIE to visit their innovation workshop, and it was there that Anne Hidalgo discovered ONO. She expressed an interest in our solution which, she felt, would have a place in the future in maintenance and the temporary closure of certain streets, and also small-scale work in the capital. We see Paris and the French market as one of the most promising and enthusiastic, in terms of clientele, policy and activation and also cities. Watch this space!
HUB Institute: Is there a synergy between the various players in the mobility (or micro-mobility) sector, for a discussion on infrastructures, investment, etc.?
VH: We are aware that, with this growth in Europe, we are trying to create a more standardised consensus on new methods of mobility at European level. Traditionally we all worked independently, but in developing our solutions we were forced to work together, and this gave rise to new collaborations. We have just launched a white paper on tram logistics, in collaboration with Porsche Consulting, EIT InnoEnergy, the University of Frankfurt, Hermes International GmbH and HÖRMANN Gruppe on adapting trams for logistics delivery. The aim here is to decongest roads and optimise the existing systems in cities to create greener logistics.
At ONO, we would like to share our data with cities in order to improve infrastructures. There is a much younger and more open school of thought than in other industries and we hope that this will bear much fruit in the future.
HUB Institute: Which markets or industries do you see as being most affected or concerned in terms of delivery?
VH: We have been seeing the effects of e-commerce on traditional brands and retail sales for several years, and this has been accentuated by the Covid-19 pandemic which has revealed an increasing number of industries that failed to take steps to speed up their online sales.
In the fashion sector, many retailers stand out on account of their delivery method. Instead of opting for classic solutions, some companies will choose to cover the last mile using a more environmentally friendly method of delivery. The sector that has shown the fastest growth during the pandemic is e-groceries (supermarkets/online grocers) and mini-markets that are starting to make deliveries on request (delivery in one to two hours). “Hyper-local” deliveries simply cannot be made by lorry, as there is not enough room in cities where parking is already very limited.