More about the project

Innovative sustainable urban last mile: small vehicles and business models (i-SMILE)

Due to a rise in e-commerce and urbanization there is a rapid increase in last mile deliveries in the Nordic countries and internationally. This pace may increase due to the Corona crisis where many choose to shop on-line in order to avoid crowds. In a few years, last mile deliveries may impose a considerable problem for cities where activities are already competing for space. The last mile is often the most inefficient, costly, and emission intensive part of the transport chain. Fill rates are low, and the cost of the last mile may amount to one third of total cost. The negative effects of transport (emissions, congestion and accidents) become critical in cities where people live and work.

The project purpose is to increase sustainability in urban last mile deliveries by understanding how innovations in urban last-mile may reduce the negative effects of e-commerce and at the same time create world-class delivery services for consumers. The i-Smile develops an innovation platform for upscaling sustainable business models for urban last mile deliveries.

The project will investigate the rationale of stakeholders in last mile deliveries to identify the drivers for making sustainable choices and propose innovative business models. Primary stakeholders are consumers, shippers and logistics service providers, as well as municipalities. Further, a study of how sustainability is established through interaction in the delivery system is needed and will take place.

To meet the growing demand for logistic services due to e-commerce, the project will further investigate the use of light electric freight vehicles (LEFVs) and automatized delivery vehicles in last-mile deliveries. Presently, several logistics service providers test LEFVs in urban last-mile deliveries. They search for sustainable business models and ways of upscaling the use of these vehicles. One major, outstanding question is, however, what type of LEFV is suitable /optimal for transporting which freight flows. Further, it is also unclear how standardization of mini-containers can make seamless multimodal shipments possible. The project aims to find answers to these important questions.

The project builds a strong Nordic consortium for future projects on mobility, and aims to commit other Nordic actors to this important field for innovation and research. The consortium brings together key multidisciplinary competences including businesses and research institutes from Nordic countries.

The project is co-financed by Nordic Innovation through their Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity program


Total budget: 7.3 milj NOK

Research partners: Hanken (coordinator) (Finland), VTI (Sweden), TÖI (Norway)

CBS (Denmark)

Company partners: DHL Express (Sweden) Amedia Distribusjon (Norway)

CoReorient Oy (Finland), A to B Finland Oy (Finland) Kauppahalli 24 (Finland), PostNord (Denmark)

Schedule: 3 year projetct 1.9.2020-30.8.2023

Funded in Nordic Innovation mobility call

i-SMILE Project