These first six months of 2013 have really been a rollercoaster ride for Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles, and it seems as though every time something positive happens to the company not long afterwards we hear about it struggling. At the beginning of the year it was announced that the company had been fined by the Office of Fair Trading for breaching competition laws, however since then they seem to have been faring pretty well. Continue reading
Over the past few months we have published a number of stories concerning how the government and the EU are coming up with new ways to make commercial vehicles more eco-friendly and reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. So far the EU have announced that in the future all commercial vehicles will have to have speed limiters installed and commercial vehicle manufacturers will have to reduce the average amount of emissions to around 147 grams per kilometre. Continue reading
Nissan has recently announced that FedEx will be testing their e-NV200 electric vans in Singapore before they are officially launched next year. Nissan are already known for being one of the market leaders when it comes to electric vehicles, especially after they launched the much praised Nissan Leaf. Now it seems the company is planning on entering the electric commercial vehicle market by introducing the e-NV200 which is based on the NV200 commercial van also manufactured by the company. Continue reading
More and more companies and businesses throughout the UK with commercial vehicle fleets are investing in electric vans so that they can do their bit to help the environment as well as save money on fuel costs. Each week we are seeing more stories in the press concerning electric commercial vehicles – especially small vans – that are being introduced into the market in the next few months. It seems that as the visibility of vans is increasing due to commercial fleets, which will hopefully lead to those that privately own vans coming round to the idea of having a vehicle that runs solely on electricity.
Now it has been announced that Center Parcs has recently invested in 22 new electric Renault Kangoo Maxi Van Z.E models that they will be using in the Center Parc villages across the UK. So far, the plan is that the electric vehicles will be used at Sherwood Forest, Elveden Forest, Longleat Forest and Whinfell Forest, and when the Woburn Forest opens in Spring 2014 they will also be introduced there.
The vans will be used by those that provide maintenance and technical services across all the aforementioned Center Parcs villages, as well as for the “Dining-In” service they provide where guests can order food or drinks to their cabins. The company is happy that the vans are align with their environmental care ethos, and though the vehicles may cost more in van insurance, the fact that the fuel costs are so low could make up the difference.
Discussing the introduction of the new electric vans, Center Parcs operations and development director Paul Kent said: “It is important for us to ensure that Center Parcs’ commercial vehicle fleet is the most efficient and least polluting option possible. The new Kangoo Van Z.E.s take this ethos to the next level, bringing non-polluting electric vehicles to each Center Parcs village. We’re delighted to be continuing our commitment to ensure Center Parcs reduces its impact on the environment.” Meanwhile, Andy Heiron, head of electric vehicle programme at Renault UK said: “It is wonderful to see the vans in use at such a fantastic location as Center Parcs.”
“As well as being one of the best known names in the leisure and tourism industry, Center Parcs also leads the way in ensuring that their day-to-day operations are environmentally friendly, making the Kangoo Van Z.E. a great choice for their fleet needs. The Kangoo Van Z.E. and our electric range as a whole offer a winning combination of practicality and reliability, plus they are respectful of the environment with no tailpipe emissions at all. We are delighted that Center Parcs have chosen our Z.E. range for their fleet requirments and know that their staff will appreciate the vans’ comfort and ergonomics.”
We have already seen some automotive manufacturers developing and marketing electric vehicles across the world, however these are generally for personal use, meaning that the commercial vehicle sector is far behind when it comes to adapting vehicles with the new technology. However, electric vehicles could benefit fleet managers as they are extremely cheap to run and therefore can save companies a large amount of money, and even enable them to expand their services.
This is why Tata Technologies has recently developed a compact electric commercial vehicle which is around the size of a Fiat 500 or a Chevrolet Spark, and will be of use to companies that offer delivery services especially in built-up urban areas. The new vehicle has been named the eMO-C and is largely based on the company’s previous electric vehicle called the eMo – so much so that seventy per cent of the eMO-C has been carried over from the original vehicle. When building the eMo-C, developers removed the passenger and rear seats from the eMo, and also installed a flat-load floor and a rear hatch that lifts and slides on top of the roof.
Even though the eMO-C is small, engineers claim that it will still be able to carry an eight foot ladder, meaning that the vehicle would be perfect for tradesmen, as well those in the delivery industries such as the Postal Service, Fed-Ex or pizza delivery. Research carried out by Tata Technologies has shown that currently it costs the Postal Service 22.4 cents a mile to operate each vehicle, where an eMO-C would cost just 1.6 cents per mile. Even though there are a few competitors in this market – noticeably Ford’s new vehicle the Transit Connect – none can offer the same amount of savings as the eMo-C as the company has found that even the Transit Connect costs around 15.3 cents per mile to operate.
Discussing the introduction of electric vehicles into commercial fleets, Stephanie Brinley from EMC Strategic Communications said: “It’s a feasible idea. Price is huge for commercial vehicles. A side benefit is that consumers, through their jobs, get to experience EV technology.” Fleet providers in the future may start investing heavily in electric commercial vehicles in order to save money, along with other measures such as looking for cheap van insurance providers that can offer the services needed to maintain the vehicles and keep up with new technology.
There has already been a noticeable increase in the amount of cars on the road that are now powered by electricity or natural biofuels, however it now seems that van drivers are starting to join the trend. With the increase in petrol prices and tax for traditional petrol fuelled vehicles, it is no wonder that companies are investing in more eco-friendly vans for their fleets. One company, called Green Man & Van, have not only started using biofuel to run their vehicles, but have also invested in boxes and bubblewrap that are made from recycled materials, and uniforms that are all made from organic cotton.
Stewart Arbuckle, Director of the Edinburgh branch of Green Man & Van, has said: “The vans are completely modern, clean and safe – we just don’t use normal fuel to run them. Instead, we source recycled cooking oil locally – meaning we’re sending less harmful pollutants out into Edinburgh’s beautiful streets. The old chip fat, and other waste oils are collected from Edinburgh, Glasgow and across the Central Belt, and processed at a plant in Motherwell to make them suitable for vehicle usage. At around 119p a litre for 100 per cent biodiesel it is considerably cheaper than diesel at the pumps.”
However, it is not just large companies that can invest in eco-friendly vehicles, those that run their own businesses now have the option to buy green vans due to an increase in production by mainstream manufacturing companies. Ford has recently released the Ford Fiesta Van, which is based on its best-selling vehicle of the same name, meaning that it’s not only practical but also stylish. Add to that the fact that the Econetic version only emits 87g/km of CO2 and averages 86.5mpg and you can see why it is expected to become extremely popular this year.
As the need for green vehicles is increasing it is good to see that van manufacturers are taking it upon themselves to offer a range of eco-friendly yet functional vehicles. 2013 is sure to see a variety of new green vans hit the market, so shop around to make sure you find the best one for you, and don’t forget to make sure your new purchase is covered by van insurance.
A Central European country is showing fleet managers in the UK a possible solution to getting the maximum road use out of their electric vans as it opens up its first battery swap station.
The innovative idea has been embraced by van drivers in Slovakia with the first swapping station opening in Bratislava, the capital, earlier this month. The station is run by low emission champions Greenway, and they claim that a battery on a 3.5 tonne van can be changed in just seven minutes, a massive difference to the 10 hours it could take to completely recharge it. It will immediately give food for thought to fleet managers in the UK considering changing over to an all electric fleet but concerned about the down time on vans undertaking a recharge.
The first vehicles to use the station in Slovakia are Citroen Relay vans, known as Jumper vans in central Europe. The owners will no longer have to wait six hours, the average recharge time for a Relay van, but will be able to drive away in less than 10 minutes with a fully charged battery. Greenway anticipates commercial operators setting up a monthly account rather than pay for every charge, a system that once again would work very well in the UK.
Greenway are hoping the idea will quickly catch on and they soon have a network covering all of Slovakia, but for the moment are trialing the idea with just two commercial organisations. Van insurance providers are sure to be inundated for quotes on electric vehicles if the initiative takes off and Greenway are certain their product will help provide a realistic, energy efficient alternative to combustion models for long-distance cargo carrying vehicles.
A Japanese car manufacturer has put the disappointment of lacklustre sales on their first electric car behind them and unveiled the prototype for its first electric van.
Nissan were the first major car manufacturers to unveil a mass production vehicle in the guise of the Nissan Leaf and although sales in Europe have not been what they were hoping for it has not stopped them launching their latest electric vehicle, the NV200 EV.
The new van will go through several competency tests before it goes into mass production and this week sees the first of the vans go to work for the Japan Post Office. For the next few months the van will be tested in the city of Yokohama where it will work as a routine delivery vehicle doing everything that their normal vans do. If the first test is successful Nissan will conduct similar trials in Japan and Europe and only if they are successful will UK companies be able to get a commercial vehicle insurance quote on the NV200 RV.
However, Nissan Corporate Vice President, Hideto Murakami, is confident of a successful future for electric vehicles, and said “The role that can be played by zero emission vehicles in promoting a balance between economic growth and environmental protection in the realm of logistics is large. We will certainly reflect the customer feedback gained from these proving tests in our future product development, and I expect that our commercial electric vehicles based on the NV200 will contribute to our customers’ business and to the development of a sustainable society.”
Nissan has certainly picked a winning design to base the electric van on as the NV200 is set to become the next generation New York Taxi Cab and has had rave reviews everywhere it is sold.
While the trade in the new breed of electric vehicles (EVs) continues to struggle along, fleet managers looking to find a good alternative to diesel guzzling vans can take comfort in the news that hydrogen powered vehicles will soon be a viable alternative.
Visitors to the All Energy conference in Aberdeen this week have been treated to a glimpse of the future for motoring in the UK, and it seems more likely than ever that fleet managers will be arranging commercial vehicle insurance for hydrogen powered vans before EVs get a foothold in the market.
On display at the Aberdeen show this week was a mobile hydrogen filling station launched by innovative company ITM Power. All of a sudden this sort of invention brings the possibility of hydrogen powered vehicles so much closer, and with it comes the prospect of real green energy and much cheaper motoring. Experts believe hydrogen would cost an almost unbelievably low price of around 24p per litre and as an extra bonus hydrogen powered cars are so much cleaner than EVs in emissions.
The production of hydrogen is not dependent on the use of fossil fuels in the way electricity produced for EVs are, and of course the only by-product of burning hydrogen is water. Undeniably hydrogen cars have impressive green credentials.
Hyundai have already unveiled their hydrogen powered Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell prototype and insist they will be producing 10,000 hydrogen powered vehicles by 2015. Of course the big clincher for Hydrogen powered cars may be their range and speed. There are no worries at all about running out of power with an hydrogen car; a full tank will give about 350 miles of driving very similar to a conventional motor and they are capable of travelling up to 100 mph. They have certainly been a hit at the All Energy conference, with Aberdeen Council Leader, Barney Crockett, observing “The Hyundai cars were in great demand and ITM Power’s mobile refuelling station went a long way to dispel the myth that the infrastructure required to power this type of vehicle is years away.”
Fleet managers throughout the United Kingdom will be planning for the future after Nissan announced they are going to produce a 100% electric van (the e-NV200) that will go into production at its Barcelona plant next year.
The new van will be based on their existing award-winning NV200 which is also produced at the same plant and the van will be an important addition to Nissan’s global range of light commercial vehicles. The e-NV200 will be Nissan’s second all electric vehicle (EV) following on from the launch of the multi-award winning Nissan LEAF two years ago.
Nissan feel that this news will show even more that they have a long-term commitment to zero emissions. The launch of the new model was made possible thanks to a £100 million investment by Nissan in Spain and will create around 700 new jobs at the plant.
The e-NV200 will provide businesses in the UK with a functional and roomy van, and Nissan are confident van insurance providers will be inundated with enquiries once the vehicle becomes available. The van will retain the innovative and practical features of the NV200 combined with the most advanced components of the Nissan LEAF. This will deliver a driving range similar to the LEAF together with best in class running and maintenance costs. The new van will also make a significant contribution to Nissan’s aim of becoming the world’s largest LCV manufacturer by 2016. Currently intensive evaluations are being carried out in Europe ahead of the start of production.
Andy Palmer, Nissan Executive Vice President, said “The e-NV200 represents a genuine breakthrough in commercial vehicles and further underlines Nissan’s leadership within the electric vehicle segment. The new model will offer all the spaciousness, versatility and practicality of a traditionally powered compact van, but with zero CO2 emission at the point of use and also provide an outstanding driving experience that is unique to EVs. Crucially, it will also offer class-leading running and maintenance costs, which makes it an exceptionally attractive proposition to both businesses and families.”