Category Archives: Alternative Fuels

Renault Kangoo Z.E. electric van

New Renault Kangoo Z.E. gets 50% longer range

It was inevitable: mainstream electric vehicles are starting to get longer battery ranges between recharging.

The latest version of the all-electric Renault Kangoo Z.E. will boast a new motor and battery package which Renault says will increase its range to 168 miles. That’s 50% more than the current model’s 106-mile range.

Renault Kangoo Z.E. electric van

Renault Kangoo Z.E. electric van

This announcement to increase the range on Kangoo Z.E. follows on from Renault recently launching at the 2016 Paris Motor Show the New Renault ZOE available with a new Z.E.40 battery that increases its NEDC driving range to 250 miles (186 miles in real world driving conditions) – the longest of any mainstream electric car.

I suspect there are further increases to come. A lot of firepower is now being put into electric drivetrains — in my view, it’s inevitable that such young technology will improved steadily for some time yet.

Jersey Post Nissan e-NV200 van

Jersey Post’s e-NV200 vans should deliver electric conversion for islanders

Given that the island of Jersey is only about 12 miles long, you’d have to wonder why local businesses are not all using electric vehicles already. Range anxiety is unlikely to be a problem and the winters are mild, reducing the chances of cold weather performance problems.

It seems that Jersey Post — at least — is getting the message. The Channel Island’s postal service recently bought 15 Nissan e-NV200 electric vans to use for mail delivery across Jersey.

Jersey Post Nissan e-NV200 van

Jersey Post Nissan e-NV200 van

The electric vans are the first electric vehicles to be added to the company’s fleet of more than 100 vehicles and their purchase follows an 18-month trial.

Andy Jehan, Director of Operations at Jersey Post, now seems to have the bit between his teeth. Mr Jehan sounds like an enthusiastic convert to electric vehicles:

“The Nissan e-NV200 was the right vehicle for us on every level. The vans are going to make a very significant contribution in our ambition to lower the environmental impact of our fleet and help preserve the beauty of our island – both in terms of carbon emissions and noise – and they’re also ideal for the short distance, stop/start driving that the job involves.

“The value is exceptional too, our decision to switch being ultimately based on the financial projections we have made on whole life costs. If our projections prove accurate, then there’s no reason why many more of our vehicles shouldn’t be electric.”

The addition of the advanced all-electric vans will reduce Jersey Post’s carbon footprint by 35 tonnes a year. Nissan’s 100,000 miles, five-year warranty means that Jersey Post shouldn’t have any worrise about reliability issues — the vans were supplied and will be maintained by the island’s own Nissan dealer.

Nissan claims that low running costs mean that the e-NV200 will cost £1,200 less to run than a conventional diesel van over four years. Given the low mileage, stop-start conditions for driving on the Channel Islands, you’d have to imagine that if the e-NV200 vans are trouble free, local sales of electric cars and vans could rocket.

Tevva Motors 7.5t truck

UK-built Tevva electric trucks clock up 30,000 miles in six months

I first wrote about UK firm Tevva Motors back in January. Since then, the firm’s three test trucks have been in daily use and have now clocked up almost 30,000 miles between them.

Tevva Motors 7.5t truck

One of Tevva Motors’ 7.5t test trucks, featuring the firm’s range extender electric powertrain.

Tevva’s powertrain is fitted to two converted JAC N-series trucks (JAC is a large Chinese manufacturer) and has also been retrofitted to a Mercedes-Benz Vario. All three vehicles are in daily use with parcel giant UPS, which is using and managing the trucks in the same way as the rest of its fleet.

Each vehicle has Tevva’s next-generation electric range extender powertrain, which Tevva says is capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80%, compared to an average 7.5 tonne diesel engine truck.

Range extenders work but combining an electric powertrain with a petrol or diesel-powered generator, which can be run to provide electrical power to keep the battery topped up on longer journeys. One of the key advantages is that the engine required is much smaller than it would be if it was used to power the vehicle directly. Tevva’s 7.5 tonne trucks have a 1.6-litre diesel engine fitted in place of the standard model’s 3.8-litre diesel engine.

Tevva’s powertrain uses the firm’s patented Predictive Range Extender Management System (PREMS) to work out the optimum time to run the batteries during a pre-planned route. For example, PREMS would ensure the batteries were charged to allow electric operation in urban areas before running the engine to top up the batteries during out-of-town driving. This offers significant benefits in terms of emissions and fuel consumption.

According to a recent review, the PREMS system has three modes, which provide varying levels of charge, depending on the state of the batteries and expected power requirements.

Tevva’s does not expect to start producing its own new trucks for another couple of years. However, the firm’s powertrain is now available as a retrofit package for customers who would like to fit it to existing trucks.

Range extender systems have always seemed to me a good medium-term solution to address range limitations of all-electric vehicles. As I’ve mentioned many times before, delivery vans and trucks are ideal candidates for electrification because they tend to do limited mileages on set routes each day, before returning to base each night where they can be charged.

Back to base trucks doing urban deliveries are Tevva’s target market. The potential benefits seem clear, so it will be interesting to see whether any of the big fleet operators — most notably trial partner UPS — can be persuaded to take up this system.

Tevva 7.5t electric range extender truck

Don’t Tevva give up on electric power: UK firm develops new low emission system

Only a few days ago, I questioned why mainstream van manufacturers were not producing hybrids, given the proven fuel savings and emission reductions of such systems. I cited the 7.5t Fuso Canter Eco Hybrid as an example of what’s possible.

Just a few days later, news has reached me of a British company that’s taken a different approach to hybrid technology. Tevva Motors is developing an electric range extender powertrain that can be fitted to new or existing 7.5t trucks.

Tevva 7.5t electric range extender truck

One of Tevva’s prototype 7.5t trucks with electric range-extending powertrain

What’s a range extender? The idea behind a range extender is that the vehicle is driven by its electric powertrain at all times. However, range extender vehicles also have a small petrol or diesel engine which is used as a generator to provide electric power when the batteries are unable to cope or need charging. This effectively means that the range of the vehicle is unlimited, subject to refuelling stops. It doesn’t need recharging during longer journeys.

The best-known example of this approach is probably the Vauxhall Ampera car (also sold as the Chevrolet Volt). This has been in production for a few years now, but failed to sell well in Europe and was withdrawn from General Motor’s European ranges last year (it’s still available in the USA).

How’s it different to a hybrid? In a hybrid, the vehicle is directly powered by both its internal combustion engine and its electric motor. At times it may run on electric power alone, or on the internal combustion engine alone, but both have direct drive to the wheels and operate semi-independently.

What’s Tevva doing? Tevva has developed an electric range extended truck and currently has three vehicles in operation, including one with logistics giant UPS. The firm is developing models for full-scale production in the next three years, and is also developing its range-extending electric powertrain as an aftermarket solution which can be retrofitted into older trucks.

A feature of the Tevva solution is the firm’s predictive software, which maximises use of electric-only power in urban environments and other situations where air and noise pollution is a particular issue. The system has real-time access to NOx and air quality data and combines this with GPS navigation to optimise use of the range extender.

For example, on a journey incorporating urban roads and motorway, the Tevva system might decide to use the diesel engine on the motorway in order to ensure that there is enough battery power left to complete the urban sections of the journey under electric power.

Asher Bennett, Tevva Motors CEO, commented: “Our technology and design offers all of the benefits of an electric vehicle, meeting the environmental needs of modern legislation and social acceptance, without the drawbacks of limited range.

As Mr Bennett comments, the key benefit of range extenders is that they make electric vehicles much more widely usable.

Technical details: The Tevva truck can manage 100 miles on electric power, although this will vary with driving conditions, load and driving style. The range extender extends this range to 250 miles with a 40l fuel tank or 370 miles with a larger 75l fuel tank — although of course you can refuel can carry on driving as long as you need, using the range extender engine.

The powertrain is made up of a 120kW (161hp) electric motor with a 350V/66kWh battery pack that’s expected to last 7-10 years, or 2,000 charging cycles. A 1.6-litre diesel range extender engine is recommended and a regenerative braking system is also fitted to maximise battery life. Charging requires a 3-phase, 32A supply and takes up to three hours.

Tevva says that greenhouse gas emissions from the range extender with predictive technology are typically 80% lower than from an average diesel-engined 7.5t truck.

Pollution from NOx emissions, a common cause of respiratory problems, is 50% lower than with a Euro 6 approved 7.5t truck, according to Tevva.

Our view: Tevva’s goal is to gain a foothold in the low emission truck market by supplying their own trucks, which are based on an existing model from Chinese firm JAC. Tevva also plans to make the range extender system available as a kit which can be retrofitted to existing trucks.

UPS’s willingness to put the Tevva system into daily use suggests the product is credible and usable, so it will be interesting to see where this leads. I can’t believe it will be too much longer before more major van and truck manufacturers start producing hybrid models. When so many CVs are used for limited mileage and in urban environments, it is surely hard to ignore the environmental benefits of such technology.

Nissan e-NV200 electric van being used by florist

How many electric vans are really being sold?

Is the noise and hype surrounding electric vans being translated into sales? I’ve long been a supporter of the business case for electric vans, but new figures from Renault suggest that the electric revolution still has a long way to go before it starts to affect the wider LCV market.

Nissan e-NV200 electric van being used by florist

Many vans do less than 60 miles a day and never venture outside the city — the ideal usage scenario for electric vehicles.

According to Renault, the Kangoo Z.E. is Europe’s best selling electric van, accounting for 42.6% of the all-electric European LCV market in 2015. Renault says that it sold 4,325 Kangoo Z.E. vans last year, implying that total electric LCV sales in Europe were 10,152 units.

That may seem a reasonable number — and it is certainly much higher than a few years ago. But in the UK alone in 2015, 423,894 new LCVs were registered. Looked at in this light, electric van sales need to rise by around a factor of ten before they might start to have a significant impact on pollution levels and business buying habits.

I remain bullish about the potential for electric vans, however, simply because they are so obviously well suited to many types of operation. Electric vans are gradually making inroads across Europe too. Examples include the Norwegian and French postal services, British Gas and a growing mixture of public sector organisations and SME businesses.

Big potential cost savings are on offer: a report last year from the government and industry-backed Go Ultra Low campaign found that British businesses could save up to £2.6bn per year by switching to electric.

Posten Renault Kangoo Z.E.

Norwegian posties make the switch to electric vans with Renault

Cold weather performance is often cited as a concern by people considering electric vehicles, but it doesn’t seem to be a big problem for Posten, which is Norway’s postal service.

Posten already has a fleet of 900 electric vehicles and has just ordered a further 240 Renault Kangoo Maxi Z.E. electric vans, which will be used to deliver the post in urban areas.

Posten Renault Kangoo Z.E.

Posten provided an interesting statistic I’ve never seen before, revealing that it is currently responsible for 1% of Norway’s total CO2 emissions. I’d like to see how that compares to Royal Mail’s footprint within the UK’s total emissions. Posten is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020, hence the drive to use more electric vehicles.

Renault estimates that the Kangoo Maxi Z.E. has a real-world range of between 52 and 84 miles, depending on ambient temperatures and driving conditions. This is enough for many urban delivery routes, as it would be in the UK.

Electric vehicles provide other benefits for Posten, too. In Norway, electric cars are exempt from VAT and road tax. They pay no parking fees, road tolls or ferry charges, and they are entitled to use bus lanes. All these costs add up and being able to drive in bus lanes is certainly a time saver.

Posten’s decision to go electric is not unusual in Norway. The government provides a range of incentives for electric vehicle owners and electric vehicles currently account for 20% of all new vehicle sales in Norway. By 2020, 10% (200,000) of all vehicles are expected to be electric.

Alongside this, UK electric vehicle sales look pretty feeble. During the first ten months of this year, Renault sold 1,475 electric vehicles in the UK. We’ve still got a way to go to match the Norwegians.

Merseytravel Nissan e-NV200 Combi

Merseytravel goes underground with electric power

It’s hard to imagine a more suitable place to use an emission-free electric van than in a busy tunnel.

So it makes perfect sense that Merseytravel, which operates the Kingsway and Queensway tunnels under the river Mersey, has started to make the switch to electric power.

Merseytravel Nissan e-NV200 Combi

One of Merseytravel’s e-NV200’s in action in Liverpool’s Kingsway Tunnel

In addition to the two tunnels, which handle 90,000 vehicles a day, Merseytravel operates seven tunnel ventilation stations, three ferry terminals and various bus stations. The firm bought its first electric vehicle, a Nissan LEAF, last year and has recently added three Nissan e-NV200 Combis to its 40-strong maintenance fleet.

The electric Combi vans will be used to transport work crews and their tools around the Merseytravel estate. The company is also backing the wider adoption of electric power in Liverpool by operating the government-funded Recharge initiative. This aims to provide a network of charging points at key locations throughout Liverpool City and West Cheshire.

So far, 30 chargers have been installed at locations including ​Seacombe  Ferry Terminal, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Broad Green Hospital, and Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

For further information on the Recharge network and electric vehicles –

New Iveco Daily will launch June 2014

Iveco unveils New Daily Electric van

New Iveco Daily will launch June 2014

The standard version of the new Daily.

Weighing in at up to 5.6 tonnes and with a load space of up to 19.6 cubic metres, the new Iveco Daily Electric is probably the biggest electric van on the market.

The improved Daily Electric, which is based on last year’s New Daily model, offers up to 20% longer battery life than the outgoing model. That translates to range of up to 280km, using a three battery configuration.

Drivers can choose between Eco and Power modes, depending on whether they want to limit torque in order to maximise battery life or not. As you’d expect, the Daily Electric also uses regenerative braking in order to eke out battery charge a little longer.

The vehicle is naturally almost silent in operation, making it ideal for urban use and night time deliveries. Iveco does fit a pedestrian acoustic alert system, however, which comes into play automatically at speeds of less than 30km/h.

Inside, the New Daily Electric is equipped with a 7’’ detachable tablet and an electronic dashboard for vehicle data management, while best-in-class navigation technology comes courtesy of TomTom® Bridge for Iveco.

This system for Iveco New Daily Electric is the unique result of TomTom® and Iveco teaming up to offer professional drivers a tailor-made navigation solution. A semi-integrated dashboard dock delivers the comfort of a built-in system and the flexibility of a detachable device.

Solihull Council powers up Nissan electric van for 2p per mile

Solihull Council Nissan e-NV200 CombiFancy running a van for 2p per mile and saving an average of £300 per year on running costs?

That’s what Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council is expecting to do as a result of swapping a standard diesel van for a new Nissan e-NV200 Combi electric van.

According to Nissan, total cost of ownership is expected to be £1,200 lower than a comparable diesel vehicle over a four year ownership period.

The Combi model was chosen to balance seating capacity with load capacity, and Solihull Council’s first electric vehicle will be used by its Neighbourhood Services team to co-ordinate community projects such as park improvements and sport facilities such as skate parks.

As with so many vans, this e-NV200 won’t stray that far from its base — ever — so the official 106 mile range should be more than adequate.

The council is happy so far and will consider more electric vehicles, according to Councillor Tony Dicicco, who is Cabinet Member for Environment, Housing and Regeneration:

“The e-NV200 has shown us just how electric vehicles can work for us.

“From our perspective, the technology has come so far that every time a department has a need for a new vehicle or a lease comes up for renewal we’ll be looking to see if there’s a viable electric option.”

Launched last year, the Nissan e-NV200 combines the NV200 – a former International Van of the Year – with the proven technology of the record breaking Nissan LEAF – the world’s bestselling electric car.

The e-NV200 is available in panel van form with a 700kg payload, or as a five or seven-seat Combi crew cab model. Prices start from £13,568 in panel van form (including the government plug-in grant).

Van operators could save £2.6bn per year by switching to electric, says manufacturers

Nissan e-NV200 electric van at CV ShowThe cost of running almost half (48%) of the vans of the UK’s roads could be reduced if the vans’ owners were willing to switch to ultra-low emission electric and hybrid models, according to a new campaign backed by leading vehicle manufacturers*, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and the SMMT.

Go Ultra Low has been setup to demonstrate the money-saving benefits of choosing low emission vehicles to the UK’s business owners. According to the group, UK commercial vehicle operators are currently missing out on up to £2.6bn per year in fuel savings alone.

The survey’s findings are an uncanny echo of a 2013 Nissan campaign, which also suggested that, er, 48% of operators could save by making the switch to electric. Nissan’s e-NV200 electric van is one of the most successful electric models to date and the firm is, of course, a member of the Go Ultra Low campaign. I do wonder just how new these calculations on potential savings are, however — not least because diesel prices are significantly lower than in 2013…

Anyway, according to Go Ultra Low, millions of operators running small and medium-sized vans as back-to-base or short-haul vehicles (a very common scenario with vans) could profit by switching to pure-electric vans (e.g. the Nissan e-NV200 and Renault Kangoo Van Z.E.) and plug-in hybrids (e.g. the Mitsubishi Outlander 4Work).

This is a song I’ve sung on these pages many times before, and I remain convinced that the numbers add up despite the fall in diesel prices we’ve seen over the last six months. If you’re still not convinced, it’s worth noting that the typical fuel saving from switching to an electric van is £1,459 per vehicle, per year, based on an annual average mileage of 20,000. That’s not small change and equates to nearly half the annual fuel bill for a van doing 20,000 per year, based on my calculations.

On top of this, ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs), with CO2 emissions of less than 75g/km, all exempt from road tax. and pay no congestion charges in London. There’s also a growing national network of free recharging points and a government grant of up to £8,000 towards the initial purchase price, which effectively makes electric vans as cheap to buy as diesel models.

If you’re still on the fence, visit for more information.

*Audi, BMW, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault, Toyota and Volkswagen.