SMALL electric LCVs are about as appropriate as it gets for ferrying packages around towns and cities in traffic, producing zero tailpipe emissions and dodging any air quality or congestion-related charges.
To date, mass market electric vans have typically comprised smaller, lighter models, which are flourishing in both urban delivery capacities and off-highway applications.
Last mile deliveries
Simon Cook, LCV leader at leasing firm Arval, said: “We’ve got an established small van electric range and manufacturers have been doing those for a while now. They suit two sectors: one, last-mile deliveries – typically urban areas where they’re delivering from their hub to the customer, with a diminishing load.
“The other industry that I’m seeing electric vans going into is the service industry – canteen or café catering facilities on site for clients. They’re providing perhaps a workshop service or, when you’ve got a client who’s got a large centre.”
To add to the success of small electric vans, manufacturers have begun introducing larger plug-in models which, according to Cook, are critical to the wider uptake of plug-in LCVs in what he describes as the “essential” delivery sector. He believes that bigger vehicles with more spacious loadbays and greater payloads have the capacity to accelerate the number of electric vehicles taken on by delivery companies, which typically favour big vans.
“We are now moving into long wheelbase, high-roof electric vans. Renault launched theirs at the CV show – the Master – the Iveco 35 panel van while Mercedes and VW have their Sprinter and Crafter electric vans, although not available in the UK yet. These are 3.5 tonnes, or in the case of the Renault, 3.1 tonnes, and literally new on the market.”
Cook said there’s a demand for plug-in hybrid panel vans from the delivery sector and elsewhere. Currently, there are no such models on sale in the UK, but Ford is trialling a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid Transit Custom in London prior to launch next year.
A potential increase in the payloads of battery-powered LCVs could also broaden the remit for manufacturers and bolster UK sales. In May, the government launched a consultation, which, among other areas, proposed to raise the payload for electric vans from the current 3.5 tonnes to 4.2 tonnes to account for the additional weight of batteries.