Kip and Polly hit the road ... and footpath
They are essentially super-charged mobility scooters and they are New Zealand Post's new electric weapon in the war on falling post numbers.
From Monday morning, Kip, a Kyburz three-wheel electric vehicle, and Polly, a Paxster four-wheeled version, will be taking some Hutt Valley posties on their rounds.
The two electric vehicles - costing between $15,000 to $25,000 a pop - are being trialled and if they pass muster could be rolled out around New Zealand.
But NZ Post mail and communications chief operating officer Ashley Smout said, while their introduction could lead to redundancies, they will not entirely replace traditional walking, cycling, and motorbike posties.
NZ Post had signalled there would be some job losses in two to three years.
But the reason for the trial was a dropping number of letters being sent by mail, combined with more parcels being sent because of online shopping, he said.
"We know our customers are changing the way they communicate and do business, and we need to change with them."
Both vehicles were licensed to be driven on the road and could reach speeds up to 45kmh.
For the trial, both had been given permission by Hutt City Council to run on footpaths, which is an extension of the same permission given to posties on motorbikes.
NZTA has issued temporary registration to each. They are not allowed to exceed 10kmh on footpaths.
Both are electric, effectively silent and can be charged overnight.
Battery life and power up hills would be tested during the trial period, Smout said.
The vehicles were "just a number of options we are trialling" and NZTA would make a decision within three to four months about whether they would be used more widely.
NZ Post says a postie on foot could carry a maximum load of 16kg and could range up to 20km. A postie on a bike could carry 23kg and range up to 40km, and a motorbike could carry up to 27kg and range up to 80km.
Kip could carry up to 120kg, with a trailer that could carry a further 150kg, and had a range up to 100km.
Polly could carry up to 300kg and could range up to 80km.