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NewsinsightFuelpricesSales figuresRemarketing analysisManufacturer RecruitmentnewsCar reviewsNews digest2012THE YEAR THE ELECTRIC VEHICLEFleetNews publicationassociation with30 Month here 2011 Month here 2011 31an fleets have been courted by EV producers for many years, but what are the potential problems that need to be resolved before taking on electric commercial vehicles?We're told that being 'green' helps save money, and that is certainly true when it comes to conventional diesel and petrol engines. Lower CO2 emissions are a result of less fuel being burned by the engine.But for the ultra-low energy cost, the picture is far more complex.Damian James, head of transport provision at Bracknell Forest Council and a director of ACFO, has investigated fleet applications for a wide range of cutting-edge technology including electric vans.Operating a low-mileage, depot-based fleet, the local authority would, at face value, appear to be the 'perfect' electric van operator.However, James says: "Electric vans are simply not viable for the council's fleet. The financial argument just does not stack up when comparing total cost of ownership with diesel vehicles and the technology is too much of a gamble. We cannot afford to experiment. I want to see fleet data over perhaps a five-year period that tells me EVs are reliable and make both economic and environmental sense."Birmingham University transport John Charles looks at pters, what's toxxxme. xpxppxpxpppxxp pxpxVAN FLEETS PLAY THE THE WAITING GAMEAdditionally, Cane reports no issue with battery degradation - a concern among some van operators. He says: "From a performance viewpoint the electric vans on our fleet have ticked all the right boxes."George Alexander, chief editor commercial vehicles at Glass's, says: "Despite all the pessimistic comments there is enthusiasm for electric vans and Renault has put together a very creditable package. The sums just about add up versus a diesel van for the right customer."Any self-respecting transport manager would by now have looked at the technology to see if it is viable within their fleet profile. In the right operation the Renault package has many bases covered."However, with operating costs and residual values a largely unknown quantity, if fleets are to operate electric vans Alexander believes they should lease to avert taking risks with very expensive, unproven technology.When comparing vehicle operating costs, Whittam believes fleets must throw out the historic replacement cycle rule book, which typically dictates that vans must be replaced at intervals of up to five years."The monthly wholelife cost of running a diesel van versus an electric van are about the same. However, 72% of diesel van costs are in the running of the vehicle, but only 12% of electric van costs relate to running the vehicle," explains Whittam.Therefore, with the Ford Transit Electric Connect costing £39,999 to buy (it can also be leased), he says: "Businesses need to operate electric vans for as long as possible. The way fleets do business must change and replacement cycles must be adapted. Once a vehicle is paid for, run it into the ground."manager Monica Guise has seven electric MegaVans from French manufacturer Aixam on the organisation's 130-strong fleet although that number is to reduce as some are defleeted in the near future.Guise admits battery durability has been an issue with one van now on its third battery in five years and two more suffering problems at three to four years old.The university's carbon management programme means that vehicle funding is directly linked to vehicle emissions so the operation of zero emission electric vans is vital to budgetary opportunities."10% of the fleet is sustainable with vehicles running on either electric or hydrogen. As with all vehicles, wholelife costs are the key issue. Our experience tells us that electric vans do not last as long as diesel vans and are more expensive to operate," she explains. "When we have replaced the batteries they have cost £2,000 each, which is a lot of money when added to the cost of the vehicle."However, the experience has not put her off electric vans. Guise says: "Electric vans have been a step into the unknown, but I am anxious to run electric vans from other manufacturers. "Unfortunately, there are no wholelife cost figures for electric vehicles to compare with diesel or petrol vans."The key challenge facing van manufacturers, according to Phil Cane, Sainsbury's delivery operations manager for the 1,300-strong online fleet, is to increase electric vehicle range without reducing payload.The supermarket giant operates a central London-based home delivery fleet of 50 Edison electric vans, which are based on the Ford Transit and have been converted by Smith Electric Vehicles.With a near one-tonne payload, Sainsbury's has been operating electric vans since 2005 so has plenty of experience of day-to-day use.Cane says: "The range is 60 miles and that works for the company in central London. Sainsbury's requires a 3.5-tonne vehicle to get the required payload and we have worked closely with Smith Electric Vehicle because every kilogramme is vital."Energy density versus van payload is a big issue for the industry. The opportunity is available to us to introduce more electric vans in other areas and our practical experience of the Edison is very good, but payload cannot be compromised by larger batteries to extend range."one, which could take the industry some time to react to, says Dave Freeman, manager commercial vehicle specialist division at ING Car Lease, which has 12,000 vans on its 50,000-strong fleet.To help customers focus on electric vans, the company has bought a Transit Connect Electric and a diesel equivalent and is equipping both with telematics technology.Freeman says: "We will be loaning the vans to customers and the telemetry feedback we receive will provide valuable comparison data in terms of operational performance."Leasing companies, including ING Car Lease, are typically reluctant to lease a van beyond five years mainly because of fears of major component failure with the cost of repair sometimes more than the value of the vehicle."Our average van replacement cycle is presently 42 months and to operate a vehicle beyond five years will take client education," says Freeman.He remains surprised that vehicle manufacturers have not introduced hybrid vans, saying: "Fleets are asking questions about hybrid vans because hybrids are prevalent among passenger cars and seem to be reasonably successful. With electric vans there are a number of hurdles to overcome and fleet operators need reassurances in a number of areas."Nevertheless, concludes Lewis: "The business potential for electric vans is greater than that for cars because the technology fits in with a significant portion of the LCV market that relies on low mileage, low payload, back-to-base use, for example utility and delivery companies. "There is a lot of interest, but that has not manifested itself in many orders yet. Electric vans are still seen as a high-risk purchase and a lot of operators have been waiting for mainstream vehicle manufacturers to enter the market with their own dedicated electric vans, warranties and aftermarket support rather than relying on converted models."According to Azure Dynamics, fleets buying an electric van for use in an urban environment would start saving money at between four and four-and-a-half years. It claims that the Transit Connect Electric requires less than 50% of the service time and cost of a diesel versionElectric vehicle depreciation is a step into the dark for fleets with virtually no historical vehicle and price performance data available. Tim Cattlin, editor, CAP Commercial Vehicle Monitor, says: "Because the wealth of evidence available for other vehicles is not yet in existence for battery life, for example, CAP forecasts mirror the expected caution exercised by potential trade purchasers."It is possible that if batteries prove to have sufficient longevity, then this position will change and residual values could potentially be very strong. Until that evidence has been gathered over time, however, the forecast residual value position will inevitably reflect caution over battery life in particular."However, he adds: "It is clear that financial viability of electric vans improves over longer operating cycles, from seven years onward."The call for more Government support to encourage businesses to introduce electric vehicles on to their fleets was supported by Whittam, who says: "Customers that adopt 'green' technology for the right reasons should not be punished in terms of either vehicle price or unladen weight penalty. However, we think that the Government is receptive to the view that vans should be included in grant schemes."But the concept of 'buying your fuel upfront' for an electric vehicle is an alien V24 Month here 2011 Month here 2011 25Chevrolet Volt (deliveries from March 2012)Power: 111kW/150hpTop speed: 100mphRange: 50 miles in all-electric mode; 370 miles in total using range-extender engineCharging: Three hours from a 230v outletPrice: £28,545 (including £5,000 grant from OLEV)Lease: tbcWarranty: Five years/100,000 miles; eight years/100,000 miles for powertrainCosts: Combined fuel economy is said to be 235mpg - petrol refuelling only needed for longer journeys; around 45mpg expected when running on engine power. Otherwise, electricity as per an all-electric EV; no pence-per-mile figures as yet Citroen C-ZeroPower: 49kW/67hpTop speed: 80mphRange: 93 milesCharging: Seven hours or 80% on a 30-minute quick-chargePrice: Citroën doesn't quote; £5,000 grant from OLEV Lease: £415 per month (excl. VAT) over four years/40,000 miles, including battery pack and all servicing and routine maintenanceWarranty: Two years manufacturer warranty, six years dealer warranty (to 80,000 miles); five years drivetrain cover, 3 years from dealer (to 80,000 miles)Costs: As little as £1.50 for 93 miles for electricity (depending on tariff used); typically about 2p a mileFisker KarmaPower: 300kW/403hpTop speed: 125mph (95mph in all-electric mode)Range: 32 miles in all-electric mode, 300 miles using range-extender engineCharging: six to eight hours from domestic socketPrice: tba, but thought to be around £87,000Lease: tbcWarranty: 50 months/100,000 miles, servicing includedCosts: Electricity as per EV, plus a return of around 67mpg with engine running; 82g/km CO2; no pence per mile figures yetLease: PCP - £399.55 a month over 36 months (£5775 deposit), including servicingWarranty: 3 years/60,000 miles, 5 years/60,000 miles for electric drivetrain componentsCosts: Full charge from £1.30 (average £2); "2p per mile"Peugeot iONPower: 49kW/67hpTop speed: 81mphRange: 93 milesCharging: Around nine hours from a domestic supply; 50% in 15 minutes and 80% in 30 minutes at a quick-charge point. Price: £27,032.50 + VAT = £33,155, minus £5,000 OLEV grantLease: From £415 a month over 48 months, including servicing and batteryWarranty: Two years' manufacturer warranty + six years' dealer cover (to 80,000 miles); drivetrain cover five years from manufacturer + three years from dealer (to 80,000 miles)Costs: £1.93 for 93 milesRenault Fluence (deliveries from autumn 2012)Power: 70kw/95hpTop speed: 84mphRange: 115 milesCharging: Six to eight hours for a full charge, depending on power supplyPrice: £17,850 inc VAT (after £5,000 OLEV grant)Lease: tbcWarranty: Three years (up to 100,000 miles); powertrain up to five years (100,000 miles); extended warranties available wit Z.E Box maintenance packageCosts: “Less than £3 for a full recharge; battery lease £69.60 a month inc VAT (36 months, 6,000 miles a year); £81 a month for 9,000 miles a year; variable options via ZE Box packageTata Indica Vista EVPower: 50kW/68hpTop speed: 65mphRange: 100 milesCharging: Eight hours from a domestic outletPrice: n/a; full consumer launch 2012 after initial trials with fleetsLease: £190 a month for one year (initial trial period), including insurance, servicing, maintenance, breakdown coverWarranty: Included in initial trial lease (see above)Costs: Less than £1.50 for a full charge“; 1.5p a mile Mitsubishi i-MiEVPower: 49kW/67hpTop speed: 80mphRange: 93 milesCharging: Seven hours or 80% on a 30-minute quick-chargePrice: £28,990 minus £5,000 OLEV grant (incl. VAT - TBC?)Lease: After three months initial payment, £399 + VAT a month over 47 months (10,000 miles a year)Warranty: Five years battery warranty, three years vehicle warrantyCosts: Three years servicing, £300. Full charge from £1.05, average £2.05 (depending on electricity tariff); "£270 for 12,000 miles" (2.25p a mile) overallNissan LeafPower: 80kW/109hpTop speed: 90mphRange: 109 milesCharging: Eight hours using the British Gas-supplied charger or 12 hours on standard domestic charger; 80% in 30 minutes quick-chargePrice: £30,990 minus £5,000 OLEV grantPLUG-IN CARS: WHICH ONES ARE AVAILABLE NOW?Farah Alkhalisi looks at the early adopters, and what's to come.Farah Alkhalisi looks at the early adopters, and what's to come CONTINUES ON PAGE 26