Does this purpose-built electric delivery van mark a turning point for the EV industry?
With a ground-up design that uses wheel motors to eliminate the energy losses encountered when fitting an electric drive to a conventional drivetrain, the launch of the Chanje V8070 van in the US could prove to be a milestone in the resurgence of electric commercial vehicles.
Electriccommercial vehicles have been around since the 1890s and have beenabandoned and revived on a few occasions, with recent interest perhapsheralding a more permanent presence. With persistent battery weightand range limitations, pure electric commercial vehicles since theturn of the twenty-first century have mostly been small vans, evenadaptations of electric golf carts, but apart from the quiet andlong-term success of a few such as Renault's Kangoo Z.E., salesvolumes have remained marginal. A few heavy-duty electric trucks havealso been developed but again, battery size and weight, and theresultant range limitations, have restricted success to short-rangeapplications such as port tractors where confined use makes pollutingemissions from diesel engines a significant concern.
Alongsidethose, the medium-duty van and truck segment has seen quite a fewofferings come and go during the last decade, most of which have beenadaptations of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles on which anelectric drive motor has been fitted to the existing drivetrain.Daimler, for example, produced the Mercedes-Benz Vito E-CELL and anelectric version of the Freightliner MT-45 Walk-In Van. Ivecodeveloped electric versions of the Daily, and LDV an electric Maxus.Specialist converters also adapted ICE vans including theFreightliner MT-45 (Electric Vehicles International), the FordTransit (Smith Electric Vehicles), the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and theRenault Master (ZEV). One notable exception was the purpose-built,UK-based Modec, which even featured a battery swap system. Althoughsales never took off in the UK, Navistar International bought therights to produce it in the US but Navistar's own troubles and lackof consumer interest saw both operations close in 2011.
But with battery technology at a tipping point and interest in electriccars flourishing, the future for electric commercial vehicles couldfinally be secure, right through to the heavy-duty segment where Tesla is set to become a player. It's into this increasingly confident marketplace that Chanje Energy is moving. A manufacturer of vehicles and batteries in China where its products carry the Chang Jiang brand, the company has a history stretching back toSmith Electric Vehicles in the 1920s and is 49 percent owned by Hong Kong-basedFGG. Chanje has established a base inCalifornia led by former Tesla executive, Bryan Hansel and its firstoffering in the US is the V8070, a purpose-built electric deliveryvan for "last mile" distribution applications. It has payloadcapacity of up to 580 cu ft (16.4 cu m) and up to 6,000 lb (2,720kg).
Foroptimal drivetrain efficiency, the V8070 is equipped withliquid-cooled wheel motors on the rear axle that produce a combined maximumoutput of 198 hp (148 kW) and peak torque of 564 lb.ft (764 Nm). Thelithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery capacity is 70 kWh andhas an advertised range per charge of 100 miles (161 km) with apayload of 1,000 lb (454 kg). Battery current and voltage, andestimated remaining range are displayed on the center console. Withthe average US medium-duty commercial vehicle daily route standing at65 miles (105 km), most users will be able to operate using onlyovernight charging, although it carries an onboard 7.2 kW SAEJ1772-standard charger.
Ryder,a major US commercial fleet and supply chain management company, hasplaced an initial order for V8070 vans that will be available forlease customers. The price has not been disclosed but Hansel saysthat lease payments will be "at parity" with equivalentdiesel-powered vans.
Chanje says it plans to introduce a full range of electric commercial vehiclesincluding trucks, vans and shuttle buses in a range of lengths andcapacities.
Source: Chanje Energy