With the jury still very much out on the suitability of electric commercial vehicles in fleet, Citroën plans to enter the fray in 2013 with a zero emission van.
The launch of this new model is the latest chapter of a curious story which must be rather galling to the Citroën team: the French maker was, in fact, one of the first to introduce this alternative power source back in 2000.
At the time, the model was labelled Berlingo Electrique and was trialled successfully with short-haul fleets across Europe. However, with the Government of the time talking up LPG, there were few benefits for opting for electric power and the Electrique was dropped in 2005. Now, with grants of up to £8,000 available to buy electric vans, Citroën has decided to put a toe in the zero emissions water again, although Michael was quick to point out that the firm was not making an investment in 100% electric power at present to the same scale as are some other manufacturers.
He says: “We have been in the electric marketplace before with the Electrique and we have learned lessons from the early adopters of electric power. Our new electric van will be part of a collaborative venture.
“The technology hasn’t progressed dramatically since we stopped making the
Electrique and until it does we can see electric power being a niche, with people like local authorities being interested.”
At present there is a wide differentiation over pricing. The Smith Edison and electric Iveco Daily are sold outright, the Mercedes-Benz Vito Electric is for lease only and the Renault Kangoo ZE is sold but the batteries are leased separately.
Michael says: “We used to sell the Berlingo Electrique but lease the batteries so that business model is not new. But we are going to analyse the marketplace before making a decision on the way to price our new model.”