Government cash helps van plan become reality

With questions remaining over how pure electric vans will be welcomed by fleet operators, a new project, which has just received significant Government funding, could provide the stop-gap answer that fleets are looking for.

The project is one of six UK consortia-led programmes that are developing innovative low-carbon vehicles or technologies. Between them they have been awarded £24m by the Government.

The consortia are made up of some of the UK’s leading vehicle manufacturers, such as Ford, Lotus and Jaguar Land Rover, who are working alongside supply chain manufacturers and universities.

"These projects represent cutting edge technology which has the potential to transform the way we travel in a way that will stimulate a vital and growing market,” transport secretary, Philip Hammond said.

One of the successful projects will develop and launch lightweight ultra-low emissions delivery vans.

Initially, the lightweight vans will feature a diesel range extender. It is planned that the project will deliver 10,000 vans a year by 2014.

A hydrogen fuel cell version is due to be launched in 2017, which will reduce tailpipe CO2 emissions from 70g/km to zero.

Prior to this hydrogen fuel cell version coming to market, the plan is to have a lightweight electric van with a diesel engine that extends the van’s range when required.

The van will travel 60 miles at 50mph in pure electric mode and then a further 250 miles using the diesel range extender engine. This means the van, which has a payload of 1,500kg, will return a predicted 130mpg.

“We have met with fleets like the Royal Mail and DHL and it became apparent that they wanted to reduce their fleet emissions,” explains Andy Tempest spokesman for Intelligent Energy, the lead company of the consortia, which also includes Ricardo, Lotus and EVO electric motors. “However, the OEMs were not delivering what they want. Their customers were telling us they wanted something different.”

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