Commercial vehicles: are vans finally on their way to electrification?
They have landed. While the electric van models have taken some time to venture into manufacturers’ catalogues – ten years ago professionals had a choice among two models, the Iveco Daily Electric and the Gruau Electron. Today the models available have finally multiplied in numbers: in spring 2018 Renault launched the zero-emission version of its Master model. Its competitor the Volkswagen e-Crafter, should follow before the end of 2018, similar to the Maxus EV developed and manufactured in China. The Mercedes e-Vito should arrive in early 2019.
Time is running out. Of course, Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs), including vans, have lighter CO2 emission restrictions: by 2020 they will not be able to exceed a threshold of 147 g of CO2 / km, compared to 95 g for private owned vehicles. They’re on the right track to achieve this objective. Even if delayed by one year (September 2019), transition to the WTLP cycle for all LCVs is fast approaching, and the CO2 emissions of all vehicles could be revised upward. This is currently taking place as the fight against pollution intensifies – London’s ultra-low emission zones are already expanding, and the idea is gaining ground in France with the upcoming Mobility bill project.
Will this catalogue entry translate into an surge in sales? Probably not in the very short term. Although the performance of electric vans has improved, prices are still high. Therefore they target specific customers, i.e. the fleets of large delivery companies that have chosen the Renault Master ZE. The load time especially (often several hours) could put off many professionals.
Be as it may. The foundations for take-off are in place. Seeing how the production platforms have been developed, it is easy to reduce the loading and range constraints associated with battery powered vehicles. You only need to add a hydrogen fuel system, of which Symbio is a recognised supplier (link to the Kangoo project). Minister Nicolas Hulot recognised the interest of hydrogen mobility in June 2018, when he announced a plan to develop the sector. The zero-emission LCVs have arrived and this is just the beginning.