British automotive technology company Charge has revealed an electric van that it claimed can be assembled in four hours and will be capable of driving itself.
According to the company, the 3.5-tonne van is built from ultra-lightwieight materials, which, in conjunction with its custom-built hardware, could reduce operational costs by more than 50%.
Due to go on sale next year, the van is capable of travelling for up to 100 miles without emitting anything, while for longer journeys a ‘dual mode’ can be used to top up the battery and extend its range to 500 miles.
While the company hasn’t provided any more information on the powertrain, it is likely the battery will be topped up using a small engine, like in the BMW i3 range-extender.
All the vehicles – the trucks will be developed in a range of sizes from 3.5-26-tonnes - will receive over-the-air updates like with a smartphone, and the firm claimed the models are built with future driverless vehicle regulations which can be ready “at the push of a button”.
Charge is currently developing motors and electronics for the Roborace series, which is the first driverless electric motor racing series in the world, and is also the official truck partner of the Formula E electric car racing series, with its prototype truck being used for the driver parade.
“We find trucks today totally unacceptable. At Charge we are making trucks the way they should be – affordable, elegant, quiet, clean and safe,” said Denis Sverdlov, CEO of Charge. “We are removing all the barriers to entry for electric vehicles by pricing them in line with conventional trucks, giving every fleet manager, tradesman or company, no matter how big or small, the opportunity to change the way they transport goods and make our towns and cities better places to live in.”
However, Charge has not revealed any pricing information at this stage.