Cargo cycle testing scheme: project information

Project overview

“Ich entlaste Städte” (“I relieve cities”) is a large German cargo cycle testing scheme for commercial and public-sector users. The goal is to reduce urban freight transport or service trips with vehicles with combustion engines as far as possible, in order to reduce congestion in cities.

It is an idea and project of the DLR’s (German Aerospace Center) Institute of Transport Research and is being funded within the framework of the National Climate Initiative (NKI) of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).


“Ich entlaste Städte 2” is the scheme’s second project. Real-world tests are thereby conducted to determine how well commercial internal combustion engine vehicle fleets can be converted to zero-emission alternatives. The project team selects approx. 30 companies and organisations to participate in the programme and receive support in converting their fleets to congestion-relieving mobility solutions. These companies are each being provided with a fleet of high-quality vehicles for up to 12 months, and comprehensive advice. The long test period and the scientific support will provide valuable insights which should encourage other companies to follow suit. The project team will also engage with opinion leaders from the worlds of business, administration, politics, and the media to promote the use of emission-free vehicle concepts. Companies interested in participating can apply by completing an online questionnaire.

About “Ich entlaste Städte 2”

Cargo bikes and light electric vehicles (LEVs) – this is the perfect combination for trades, services, and commerce to take the load off cities. However, there is insufficient knowledge and too few field studies to provide businesses and policymakers with sound recommendations for converting fleets to alternate mobility solutions.

“Ich entlaste Städte 2” is therefore conducting real-world tests to determine how well commercial internal combustion engine vehicle fleets can be permanently converted to zero-emission vehicle concepts such as electric cargo bikes and LEVs.

The project is currently underway, with a focus on long-term tests with larger fleets to research fleet conversions and then use the findings to disseminate them to decision-makers and businesses in order to generate fact-based enthusiasm for congestion-relieving mobility.

30 test companies create knowledge

The current second project is an ambitious programme in which a total of around 30 companies will be selected by the project team to receive intensive support in converting their vehicle fleets in order to reduce urban congestion through the use of discounted high-quality vehicles and comprehensive advice. Around 15 companies from at least six German metropolitan areas will take part in each of the years 2023 and 2024. The long test period and the scientific support will provide valuable practical insights which should encourage many other companies to follow suit. This is to be achieved, among other things, by addressing influencers and decision-makers from business, administration, politics, and the media.

Application process

Companies interested in participating are asked to complete an online questionnaire.

Receive current project results

You are interested in innovative mobility concepts and work e.g. in science, business associations, administration, politics, media, or the bicycle industry? Are you responsible for a commercial vehicle fleet and interested in real-world insights and advice?

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A perfect fit: Around 10 different vehicle models in the test.

The variety of offerings on the cargo bike and LEV market is growing steadily. As a result, ideal vehicles can be found for almost every mobility and transport need. This variety of models is tested in practical operations to find out how the vehicles perform in daily use.

Participating companies receive several brand-new vehicles for commercial use as a test fleet for 12 months. The precise selection of high-quality vehicles from a pool of around 10 different models is carried out by our consulting team.

Examples of vehicles are:

  • classic electric cargo bicycles (e.g. Long John design)
  • four-wheeled heavy-duty cargo bicycle with cabin
  • electrically assisted bicycle trailer
  • light e-utility vehicle (L2e, L7e; mostly max. 45 km/h).

The companies pay a monthly contribution of about € 50-80 per vehicle for one year’s use. Delivery, insurance, and training are included. Maintenance costs are covered by a 10% co-payment. The vehicles are fully insured and are handed over including training and introduction. A hotline is available throughout the test period, for example to clarify operational issues, maintenance appointments, repairs, or damage claims.

The project at a glance

  • Emission-free commercial transport: “Ich entlaste Städte 2” aims to demonstrate that the combined use of precisely selected single-track cargo bicycles, heavy-duty bicycles and light electric commercial vehicles (LEVs) can increase the willingness of businesses to permanently switch to emission-free vehicle concepts.
  • Targeting larger fleets: The project primarily targets companies in the trades, (logistics) services, and retail sectors, especially those with internal-combustion fleets of more than five vehicles.
  • One-year long-term test: Around 30 companies are given the opportunity to test a total of around 45 cargo bikes, heavy-duty bikes and LEVs for one year and thus drive the transformation towards a more environmentally friendly vehicle fleet.
  • Intensive fleet consultation: After the first 15 companies have been selected, they will receive consulting services to help them choose the ideal vehicle models for their intended activities.
  • Scientific support: The companies can test and improve the deployment concepts as identified during the consultation phase. The participating companies are accompanied throughout the entire 12-month test period, enabling further improvement of the deployment concepts with the aim of using the cargo bikes and LEVs in the most ecologically and economically sensible way possible.
  • Measurable success: In order to enable a data-based evaluation of parameters such as economic efficiency and emission reduction, the companies record GPS data of their current fleet of combustion vehicles before switching to the project vehicles.
  • Service & maintenance infrastructure: The provision of reliable services, such as cargo bike maintenance and repair, is essential for the wider adoption of commercial cargo bikes. This is the only way to make maintenance availability and costs a calculable factor when planning commercial fleets. The project supports the development and professionalization of successful service business models.


  • The goal is to reduce commercial journeys – business transports – with vehicles with combustion engines as far as possible. This will reduce pollution and noise emissions in cities, and the compactness of the vehicles will preserve traffic space. CO2 emissions are also reduced and documented. The data regarding greenhouse-gas savings achieved in the project are collected and calculated using a smartphone-based traffic-data collection system (DLR MovingLab).
  • The 30 companies participating in the project are assisted in replacing their conventional commercial vehicles with sustainable mobility options which lead to lower emissions.
  • The experiences and findings of the participating companies are intended to serve as a blueprint for their respective industries and motivate as many other companies as possible to follow suit, so that change in urban traffic and climate protection can be further advanced.

Everyone benefits from the findings

Thanks to the long-term fleet tests in the participating companies, comprehensive experience is gained from a full year of practical use in each case. Many target groups can benefit from this experience:

  • Disseminator: Municipal administrations, chambers of industry and commerce, chambers of crafts, business associations, politics, and the media. Based on the knowledge obtained from the pilot applications at the 30 companies, a communication toolbox that offers information and recommendations for the successful commercial use of LEVs and cargo bikes is being developed. This is to be made available to 500 disseminators. With the help of the disseminators, more companies will be encouraged to restructure their fleets of vehicles more sustainably.
  • Companies: Inform, motivate, and successfully prepare fleet redesigns – companies can access practice-relevant knowledge and information on this website, including reports on cargo bike experiences.
  • Cargo bike industry: The findings of the cargo bike test can inspire manufacturers, dealers, and bicycle repair shops to optimize business models and services. The findings will be used to create a best-practice guide to the business model “cargo bike service provider”.

A project of DLR, funded by the National Climate Protection Initiative

“Ich entlaste Städte 2” is a project of the Institute of Transport Research of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and is led by Dr. Johannes Gruber. Contact:

The project is funded within the framework of the National Climate Initiative (NKI) of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), under the funding code 67KF0154.

Findings from the previous project

“Ich entlaste Städte 2” builds on the findings of the first project “Ich entlaste Städte”, which was carried out from 2017-2020. As the largest cargo bike test in Europe, it focused on gaining insights from the widest possible range of deployment scenarios.

Scientific results have been published in English as Open Access in the journal “Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice”, volume 155, 2022: “Purchase intention and actual purchase of cargo cycles: Influencing factors and policy insights”.

German-language publications from the predecessor project can be found at