The electrification of delivery vehicles

8 October 2019
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Is the electrification of delivery vehicles the future of the transport industry? How will electromobility impact the automotive market?

It is no secret that many automotive brands became interested in the electrification of delivery vans. According to the “Transport-sharing in Poland” report prepared by DataArt, the forecasts for 2019 are promising. As many as 86 % of suppliers are planning to expand their transport fleet, and as many as 46% wants to change the current cars to their newer equivalents and 85% wants to expand their fleet with a new type of vehicle.

10 thousand orders for electric Nissan supply vans

Nissan is one of the brands that have decided to use electrification in business. The Japanese manufacturer has already acquired 10 thousand ordered delivery vans of the e-NV200 model since they have been launched in 2014, and 25 thousand vans went to customers all over the world. 

The newest Nissan e-NV200 generation is equipped with 40 kWh batteries. It is produced in two versions: with a load bed, called a wagon and seats in the Evalia version. The maximum load capacity is 742 kg. Last year, the same model has placed high in the sales rankings of delivery vans up to 3.5 tons in many countries: Great Britain, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, and even in Poland! 

A year ago, the SAIC Maxus EV80 electric delivery car was presented courtesy of the Hitachi Capital company – the only official Tesla partner in Poland. The price of the van is approx. 47.5 thousand Euros net, but the company wants to offer long-term rental to the customers. This is the competition for two of the above-mentioned delivery vans – Nissan e-NV200 and Renault Kangoo ZE. Compared to the VW Crafter, it has a similar size, but a much smaller load capacity starting at 860 – 950 kg,  depending on the specific version. The company assures that they have as many as 200 cars at their disposal. 

The Man eTGE and Renault Kangoo delivery van tests handled by Innogy Go

The next company which tests electric delivery vans is Innogy Go. Two new cars have appeared in March this year: the Man eTGE, which very closely resembles the Volkswagen e-Crafter, and the Renault Kangoo ZE in two color versions: a white one and a blue one. The cars were found next to Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie in Warsaw, next to an energy charging point, even though these cars were previously unavailable in the official application. 

They cover a distance of even up to 200 kilometers on a single charge and they are distinguished by a large load bed: 10.7 cubic meters and 3 cubic meters! Taking into consideration the success of the zero-emission passenger cars introduced into the offer, it is very likely that electric delivery vans will also be included in the offer in the future.

The premiere of the Volkswagen Multivan T6.1 in the fall of 2019

This fall, the electric Volkswagen Multivan T6.1 in an electric version with an ABT drive, which was announced last year, is to be made available for sale. The range promised by the manufacturer is as large as 400 kilometers NED, which will realistically enable a 270 kilometer journey! Volkswagen ID. Buzz Cargo was presented during the Motor Show in Poznan along with a special modular MEB platform. The installation of various size and capacity batteries will be an innovative engineering solution. 

What are the advantages of the electrification of delivery vehicles? It might seem that this would mean a zero risk of ignition. However, are these vehicles really safe? The fire department has recorded as many as 9 thousand reports of electric car fires last year. They are particularly vulnerable due to overheating and mechanical damage. The new generation car bodies also have to be taken into consideration, as these are often made of flammable plastics. All you need is one small defect in the modern batteries and the excess of energy immediately gets into the atmosphere in the form of heat. 

The construction of the individual cells is also a problem. In Tesla brand cars, a battery consists of 7104 lithium-ion batteries. Even if only a few of them are damaged, that is enough to start a fire. What is more, this type of a battery is often impossible to extinguish, since the extinguishing agent will not reach the corners of the power system which are the most difficult to get access to. A fire can spread seconds after a failure is detected, or even again within a few days. An example of such a situation is the explosion of a BMW i8, which burned down in September 2019 on national road no. 91 in Zajączkowo near Tczew. The firefighters have been extinguishing the fire for several hours and then cooled the wreck of the vehicle. 

The second positive aspect in the investment in electric cars is the ecological driving which improves how we care for the environment and the quality of the air which is felt, especially in large cities. Batteries from electric cars can even power homes, which translates into additional energy savings. However, the disposal of such batteries can be very harmful to the ecological environment. Will the electric vehicle trend continue in the automotive industry? We do not know that, but many automotive companies undoubtedly sees potential, profit and concern for the ecology in this. 

Electric vehicles – a good investment for short distances and not in every industry 

Electric vehicles are a promising investment, but it will only work on short distances in courier, carsharing and passenger transport industries. In the just in time industry, where every minute counts, cars of this type will not be the right solution. Due to the need to spend time on loading a vehicle and looking for the right station to get electrical energy from during the journey, this may result in a longer supply time.