Friday, November 25, 2011

New Electric Mercedes May Impact Urban Freight Market

Low Running Costs and Emissions May Win Over Logistics Operators
Shipping News Feature

UK– Despite some serious sales resistance, electrically powered vehicles, including freight delivery vans, are set to become the standard in the small to medium vehicle range. Currently (pardon the pun) this reluctance is due to an initially high investment cost coupled with a reticence to trust the continuing mileage range of the vehicles between charges.

For certain businesses however, particularly those involved in works which consist of reasonably short urban cycles, electrically powered vans often look like an obvious choice and this week Mercedes sold their first ground-breaking Vito E-Cell, the world’s first battery-powered van to be built on line at a mainstream production facility. Development was partially funded by the EU with input from the German and Basque authorities. An 82hp (60kW) electric motor drives the front wheels, which means that the space beneath the load floor can be used to store the lithium-ion batteries without impinging on the cargo area, an essential consideration for logistics operators.

The Vito E-Cell also employs a regenerative system which captures the energy that would otherwise be lost in braking. This is used to power the heating and ventilation system and heated seats (available as standard), making the vehicle suitable for use on the coldest of days. The van is of course whisper-quiet and offers an average range between recharges of 80 miles, while its volume and 775kg payload capacities are in line with those of standard models. It will accelerate from 0-31mph in 6.5 seconds while, to maximise operating range, it has an electronically limited top speed of 56mph.

The model bought this week, a long bodied version (again no pun intended) was bought by the Warwick-based Midcounties Co-operative Funeral Group which already operates several of the standard production models but which aimed to further improve the company’s green credentials following the award of their Carbon Trust Standard for excellence in managing, reporting and reducing carbon emissions.

The electric Vito takes a maximum of six hours to charge a completely empty battery from a 380/400 volt input. Charging the vehicle is quick and entirely safe, as the smart cable cannot be removed during charging, or the vehicle driven off while it is attached. It comes fitted with the latest Adaptive ESP® anti-skid system and dual airbags both standard. The batteries are protected by a shock element and should a collision occur the high-tech voltage network is switched off when the airbag control unit activates.

The Mercedes-Benz Vito E-Cell was unveiled to UK buyers at the 2011 Commercial Vehicle Show and the vehicle in question was purchased from Blackburn dealer Ciceley Commercials, having undergone conversion to private ambulance specification by Wilcox Limousines, of Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire and is free from Congestion Charge and VED fees.