Why electrifying Light Commercial Vehicles is key towards mass spread of EVs?
Global electric vehicle sales is rapidly increasing. It has taken nearly 20 years to sell the first million electric cars on the road. Since then the pace has accelerated significantly. It took only 18 months to sell the next million electric vehicles. 2017 was the first year that has seen over one million electric vehicles sold. From 2018 we can expect significant growth of the electric Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) due to the growing number of available models with improved ranges, such as Mercedes eVito, Mercedes eSprinter, Nissan e-NV200 2018 or Renault Master ZE.
Role of LCVs in fleet electrification
Light Commercial vehicles are important for the electric vehicle adoption for businesses as those vehicles have the operational usage patterns where the electrification ROI is high. In Europe alone, over 2 million units are sold each year, of which 13 000 were fully electric in 2017 (+38% YoY growth).
These vehicles drive limited and predictable distances each day and have a high utilization rate. According to a recent Fraunhofer study 87% of the analysed vehicles could technically be operated as battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the light commercial vehicle segment. The routes driven by these vehicles, particularly the return-to-base factor, supports the charging cycle.
Important factors for fleet managers considering whether to include eLCVs in their fleet are the TCO, vehicle range and the electric charging infrastructure.
A Light Commercial Vehicle is a ‘business tool’, where the utilisation rate is key. eLCV should support organisational profitability but it will waste valuable time if it has to stand still to charge during business hours.
Main charachteristics of the future eLCV fleet
- Business continuity is mission critical for LCV fleets, therefore sufficient planning is necessary,
- Driving range of eLCVs is improving but still limited
- LCVs charge primary at company location or home (mainly overnight), and topping up during business hours when the vehicle is parked at the company premises or location
- Lack of access to charging infrastructure at employees home (potential solution: installing home charger or using so called “charging hubs” nearby)
Fleets will progressively switch to eLCVs, first in cities with regulated access. LCVs are a key component of city logistics. Using eLCV-s within the cities, by freight companies/last-mile-delivery service providers for instance, is particularly relevant:
- They are driven at a low average speed.
- Driving conditions impose numerous slowdowns and stops. In these conditions, electric vehicles may take better advantage of regenerative breaking.
- Some delivery companies drive the same route every day.
- The driven distances can be relatively short.
- The frequent use of the vehicle allows a better return on investment.
- Vehicles may return to company’s garage at the end of operation.
- Companies may benefit from an environmental conscious positive image.