Electric vehicles: Getting the green light

Date: Monday, August 14, 2017   |   Author: Rachel Boagey

A continuing drive towards low-emissions vehicles and growing opposition to diesel is bringing about a powertrain mix change – and electric vans are gaining momentum, writes Rachel Boagey

While alternatively fuelled vehicles don’t come without their challenges, it is clear that a tipping point for their wider acceptance among fleets is approaching, due in part to their improved range and the availability of more charging points.

Edward Jones, EV category manager at Nissan Motor GB, believes one of the main reasons for the increased acceptance of electric vans is that a large percentage of the light commercial vehicle market has a predictable usage cycle and covers less than 106 miles a day, providing potential for the successful take-off of electric models. Nissan developed the e-NV200 to meet the needs of large fleets and owner-drivers alike.

“For these owners, drivers and fleet managers, the e-NV200 provides an appealing combination of low running costs, zero emissions and quiet, low-vibration driving,” Jones tells WhatVan? Due to the success of the e-NV200, the UK is now the brand’s leading market for electric van sales globally and it has consistently dominated the EV LCV segment here.

Nissan’s share of the UK market for the year-to-date is around 80%, with customers ranging from taxi firms and food-delivery services to larger corporates including Eon, British Gas and Portsmouth Naval Base, plus public sector bodies such as councils. Renault says it is also seeing more demand for EVs because of ‘push’ factors – such as the low-emissions zones in London and public pressure from consumers on companies to carry out their business in more sustainable ways – as well as ‘pull’ factors, where growing awareness of the performance and benefits of EVs, whether that be ultra-low running costs or the 100% write-down allowance in the first year, is leading organisations to investigate how they can take advantage of the opportunity.

The technology available today – for example, the claimed 50% increase in range on Renault’s new Kangoo Van Z.E. 33, from 106 miles to 170 miles – has also increased usability for customers and enhanced the appeal of electric vans. PSA Peugeot-Citroen is planning for its future vehicle range to include longer-range full-electric and plug-in hybrid models from 2019, and therefore it wants to refocus on its current products to ensure the network is well-equipped to sell plug-ins.

“We know that our electric vans have great potential, as the diesel versions of the Partner and Berlingo take the lion’s share of the market, but the electric van market is still small and we haven’t maximised our potential yet,” explains Helen Lees, head of electric vehicles for PSA Group UK.


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