New high performance, zero emission commercial vehicle

New high performance, zero emission commercial vehicle
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April 24, 2006 The soon-to-debut UK-built Modec van is the first zero emission van that is comparable in economy and performance to diesel equivalents, making it a real and viable urban delivery vehicle. Emmission-free, it covers up to 120 miles on a single charge and reaches a top speed of 50 mph carrying a load of up to two tonnes. And with only three moving parts in the electric motor instead of more than 300 in a typical diesel van engine, there’s less to go wrong. The battery can be recharged overnight at the fleet depot, allowing efficient and effective city delivery without the noise, smell or pollution traditionally associated with transit vans. The Modec van has been designed with large fleets in mind.

Jamie Borwick, Chairman of Modec, said: The Modec van is the first of its kind. It compares well with other vans currently on the market but goes one better because it produces no CO2 emissions.

It is 100% clean in terms of local air quality and is virtually silent, spelling the end to noisy night deliveries in urban areas. It is also exempt from road tax and the London Congestion Charge.

Carbon emissions and climate change are causing growing concern and were confident that the Modec will soon be the van of choice for large fleet operators who are conscious of the cost savings as well as the environmental benefits that using it will deliver.

Cost advantages of running Modec vans include zero road tax, zero operator license and zero congestion charge. Currently 50,000 vans of a similar size enter the congestion charge zone every day and travel approximately 260,000 miles in total within the zone. Using a Modec van would represent considerable savings for fleets that operate within the area as well as positively impacting on the local air quality. In addition, by producing no emissions, the Modec van will meet the criteria for the Low Emission Zone due to be operational in London in 2008.

The core team behind the Modec van was also responsible for developing the iconic TX1 London taxi, which was launched in 1997 and changed the look of the traditional black cab. Modec is now an independent, private equity funded company employing 32 people. It expects to have a workforce of over 100 at its factory in Binley, Coventry, when production gets underway later this year.

The Team

The Modec van started life as the LTI Electric Mercury. Jamie Borwick, former Chairman of Manganese Bronze, purchased the e-Mercury project from LTI (part of Manganese Bronze) during 2004.

Many of the Modec team, including Jamie (Chairman and owner), Jevon Thorpe (CEO), Colin Smith (Engineering Director), David Godfrey (Technical Director), Trevor Power (Business Development Director) and Bill Gillespie (Non Exec Director) were part of the team at LTI who were responsible for developing the iconic TX1 taxi.


Department for Transport statistics show that transit vans do on average 30mph in 30mph zones and 36mph in 40mph zones across all urban areas in the country. Within more congested areas, such as London, average traffic speeds vary from 10 to 15mph through the day.

The top speed of the Modec van is therefore limited to 50mph, a safe and appropriate speed for driving in urban environments competitive with any comparable LGV. The Modec has a 76Kw motor (102 Horse Power) that delivers 300Nm of torque and the Modec van therefore has no difficulty accelerating from stationary.

Range and distance

Department for Transport statistics show that vans travel an average of 25,000 km per year (15,535 miles). Given an average of 250 working days per year, this equates to 100Km (62 miles) per day.

The Modec van is able to deliver a typical driving range in excess of 100 miles, driven like a conventional LGV (Light Goods Vehicle), with a partial load. Driven gently unladen it is capable of a greater range. In direct contrast to conventional vehicles, Modec vans actually deliver better fuel economy on stop start urban duties than when cruising at higher speeds.


Modec vans are designed to use modern Sodium Nickel Chloride and Lithium Ion battery technologies and will be able to run on fuel cells when these become commercially available.The first vehicles released will have a mid-sized Sodium Nickel Chloride battery, with both larger and smaller Lithium Ion packs becoming available next year. Each battery pack has an average life span of around four years of heavy duty use (1000 full charging cycles).No conventional electric vehicle comes close to the speed or distance achievable in the Modec van.


The Modec van produces no Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions if the electricity used to charge the van is obtained from renewable sources.

There are at least 8 suppliers of renewable electricity in the UK. Connecting to one of these is both quick and simple, and will have a minimal impact on running costs.

The Modec van emits none of the local air pollutants traditional road vehicles produce. These are primarily Nitrous Oxides (NOx) and Particulate Matter (PM10) which cause effects such as premature deaths and the exacerbation of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases including asthma, along with other toxins such as carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons (HC - Benzene and other volatile organic compounds).


The Modec van costs from 23,000, depending on model. On a whole life or pence per mile basis the Modec van is cheaper to run than a conventional diesel equivalent.


The Modec van is more than 90% recyclable.

Comparison with hybrid and conventional diesel vehicles

While there are currently no hybrid LCVs of equivalent capacity operating in the UK on a commercial basis, this type of vehicle has been proposed as the way forward in some quarters.

Although hybrid vehicles generate electricity, this is within the closed system of the vehicle and they typically have very limited battery (and hence zero emission) ranges up to a mile, if at all. Thus, while hybrids have a role to play in improving fuel economy, fundamentally they rely on burning the fuel pumped into their fuel tanks, which in turn generates CO2 and other local air pollutants.

Other manufacturers have claimed that their new clean diesels use less fuel and generate fewer emissions than hybrids. In contrast to either of these approaches, Modec vans genuinely create no local emissions whatsoever. Jamie Borwick, Modecs Chairman, has volunteered to drive one of his vans on a rolling road within a sealed box for an hour to illustrate the point. He is happy to extend a challenge to the Chairmen of any manufacturers of hybrid or clean diesel vehicles to do likewise.

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