• Jun 23rd 2010 at 6:01PM
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Ford Transit Connect Electric – Click above for high-res image gallery

A recent study conducted by Frost & Sullivan assesses the impact of electric vehicles (EVs) on the commercial industry. In particular, the study focused on light-duty commercial vehicles along the lines of small delivery vans, pickup trucks and buses. Frost & Sullivan notes that commercial vehicles regularly remain in service for far longer than your typical passenger vehicles and, when coupled with the fact that many of the miles on these vehicles are racked up in stop-and-go use, you've got a vehicle that is costly to maintain, operate and fuel up. Seeking a way to reduce high operating costs, the study predicts that the commercial industry will increasingly turn to electric vehicles.

The study suggests that Europe's demand for light-duty commercial electrics will far outweigh other continents. European companies and municipalities are expected to purchase 165,000 battery-electric vans, buses and trucks by 2016 with the North American market only requiring a fraction of that number (26,000 units). The vast majority of the light-duty commercial EVs that we will see tooling around by 2016 will include electric versions of the Ford Transit Connect and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. These two vehicles are expected to capture one third of the European light-duty commercial EV market. As we've said before, commercial fleets are ideally suited for electrification and these high-volume predictions further affirm that belief.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 13 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Fleet vehicles should rightly make up a large percentage of EV purchases in the first few years. After all, companies can write off the entire cost of the vehicle anyway. "W" put in the $100,000 tax deduction for companies to buy a Hummer which catapulted that POS into a status symbol. In terms of maintenance and fuel costs, fleets bear much more of the burden from these than families as a percentage of total household expenses so it makes sense for companies to "go EV."

      UPS recently instituted new route planning software that greatly reduces the number of left turns the delivery vehicles have to make. This will save them millions of dollars a year. So if left turns can make that much of a difference to the bottom line just think how a business would benefit from cutting their vehicle maintenance budget down to the bare minimum.

      As to the US only getting 26,000 electric trucks and vans by 2016, I doubt that the number will be this low. The initial purchase costs are higher but as I said that is a write off. I don't see businesses going 100% EV until costs come down but large to medium fleets should definitely start to transition.
      • 5 Years Ago
      In addition the the Renault Kangoo ZE, (which is positioned to be the #1 light commercial EV in Europe, particularly due to French government commitments), there is also the Nissan NV200 EV, which is to be introduced in the US in the next few years.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am a converted petrol head and have ordered a Tesla Model S, but I have to disagree on the diesel bashing. Modern diesel engines are as clean as petrol fueled engines and much more fuel efficient as well.

      Yet electric is the way to go, so my diesel fueled car will be off to the museum in 2012
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder what will happen with commercial vehicles manufacture by Fiat Professional. I read on a report that the vehicle registration for Fiat in June 2010 was higher by 10%. Do they have an electric version for their vans?
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Renault Kangoo EV should sell well too - they are a popular choice in their ICE guise.
      It is estimated that air pollution kills around 50,000 people a year in the UK alone.
      Part of this is from coastal shipping burning the dregs of oil, and coal plants, but a very substantial contribution is made by vans, taxis, lorries and cars.

      I can see many cities in Europe moving to ban delivery vehicles which are not ZEVs as soon as they are practical, with a few years notice.
      Under those circumstances it would not surprise me if the market for light vans is effectively 100% electric in the cities by 2015 or so, as there is no point buying that which is due to be ruled out.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wow, 50.000. Will there be any people left to eat fish & chips?

        OT: this is probably where EV's already make sense. High fixed cost, low variable, so mileage is essential.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Probably all the diesels.. time to tax the heck out of diesel fuel.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Makes sense. Reduced maintenance. Reduced fuel costs. Regular drive patterns. Etc.

      All postal services should start using electric vehicles.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I was under the impression that Europe already taxed the hell out of diesel fuels (still hasn't dented their popularity).

      The light commercial market is a good place to start with diesels... as teething problems can be sorted out rather quickly with the high mileages and heavy use these vehicles will see.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Does that mean that electrical commercial vehicles will be more environmental friendly? Fiat Professional has a range of vans that are eco friendly and I think this is a great contribution to help with the problem of Global warming.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I suspect that in the US rather longer routes, in many areas extreme climate and the ready availability of natural gas make this a likely choice for what would be electric in Europe or Japan, who are also launching a major electrification of their postal service.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, the quarter million or so US Postal service vehicles work very well for conversion to EV and the USPS been using them here in New York for almost a decade. Most postal routes require very little driving and there are a lot of post offices. Some of the very rural routes are done by contractors anyway. The "Letter Carriers" union's vehicles could easily operate completely electric and much of the smaller "Rural Letter Carriers" could also... There is already a plan in place to electrify USPS, and private companies like FedEx are also pushing heavily for this (look at congressional testimony)

        http://www.usps.com/green/vehicles.htm

        The bigger barrier to commercial EV penetration is not the US government - it is private commercial contractors that are convinced that they need HD V8 pickups to do the same light-duty jobs that people use 4 cylinder minivans for throughout the rest of the world. Some of the more rational fleet operators may push for EV's, just like many are moving to smaller vehicles like the Transit Connect. However, many people have an emotional bond to their unnessarily large vehicles (supported by tax breaks) that will be hard to break.
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