We all know that efficiency is fast becoming the main selling point for vans, as fuel prices escalate. As such, the last ten years have seen hybrid variants; ones using biofuels; solely electric vans; LPG ones and so on entering the market. Little of these have had much success, whilst others have never really taken off at all. The demand for electric vehicles is still low, for instance, due to their limited range.
Hybrid vehicles tend to be more expensive and their actual cost-savings are debated. As for LPG, where on earth are you supposed to find a LPG station? And with biofuels: there was a huge controversy about the fact that grain was being used to make it, grain which could otherwise have been better put towards countries suffering from famine, for instance.
Diesel still remains the best option for a fuel-efficient van, with some of the latest engines being able to get around 60-70mpg. New and efficient TDI engines are ruling the market: diesel technology is a far cry from what it once was, what with Audi demonstrating its prowess with their R10 in the 24 Hour Le Mans endurance races. This may all be about to change though, with a new vehicle announced recently.
A British made van?
The vehicle, an Emerald T-001, is made in Britain, ,by British people. Who would have thought it? It is said to use an alternative to the diesel engine – a credible alternative, that is. It’s not all together new, no. It is in fact electric, however your battery will never run out, as it’s hooked up to a diesel generator in the back. That’s one problem solved! It is therefore a type of hybrid, where the diesel motor only kicks in when battery-life is down to a quarter. It is important to note that no power from the diesel motor is transmitted to the wheels.
What does this mean?
Well, with this arrangement, tests have shown efficiencies into the 232mpg range, with carbon emissions down at 31.3g/km. Not bad! In reality, this will probably drop to about the 70mpg mark, which is still excellent. You have to bear in mind that there is still going to be a diesel fuel tank of roughly 6 gallons in volume, as well as a battery.
Over the three years it took for Revolve and IE-LEV to develop it, not only was a fuel efficient van made, but also one with a respectable payload of 1400kg and volume of 5.2 cubic metres. Whilst the panels and chassis are made by Revolve, it has components from various other vans. These include suspension, differential, brakes, steering and climate control systems from the beloved Transit, and the 1.4 litre diesel engine is sourced from the Fiesta van.The rest of the components come from other British companies.
The vehicle is going to go into production in both the UK and Germany in 2014, with 5000 vans being made in the first year. It is also expected to receive a top 5 star NCAP rating, which will please van insurance companies.