BRITISH Gas is take on 100 all-electric e-NV200 vans after a successful six-month trial of 28 prototype vehicles, Nissan announced on the second day of the Commercial Vehicle in Birmingham.
The trial vehicles were fitted with 30A chargers which allows their batteries to be recharged in four hours
The energy giant will initially take delivery of 50 e-NV200 vans, with the balance arriving later this year. And further orders could follow after the company has restated its intention to switch 10% of its fleet to electric power by 2017.
During the six-month trial, the 28 test vans covered around 60,000 miles. Both Nissan and the British Gas were keen to discover how the vehicle and its Sunderland-made battery pack performed during the winter months.
British Gas MD of procurement and supply chain Rob Morton told Business Vans that the e-NV200s didn’t suffer a single breakdown throughout the trial.
The battery is a 48-cell unit, similar to the unit found in the LEAF passenger car, but repackaged to fit the van’s dimensions.
The Nissan e-NV200s have a range of up to 100 miles between recharges, making them easily capable of the 40 to 45 miles the engineers using them typically covered every day.
With its engineers working from home, British Gas has set up domestic charging facilities using twin-port smart meters.
“All the trial vehicles were fitted with 30A chargers, which enables their batteries to be recharged in four hours,” Morton said.
The purchase of the e-NV200s will be funded by finance house Hitachi Capital which will also manage the new fleet on behalf of British Gas. The vans will remain in service for five years, by which time a used market for electric vans should have developed.
British Gas also runs around 600 diesel Nissan NV200s and Primastars, it is also known as an operator of Volkswagen light commercials. And while Volkswagen has built prototype electric Caddy vans, it has yet to put them into production.
But this gap in the Volkswagen line-up will not lead British Gas to transfer all its business to Nissan, stresses Morton, who said: “We have no plans to operate a single-badge fleet.”