6 Jun 18

Arval launches new guide to electric vans

The international leasing and fleet management specialist has published a guide to help fleet operators take their first steps towards zero emission light commercial vehicles.

A new guide to running electric vans (EVs) aims to help fleet operators meet the very real challenges of urban air quality and avoid the risk of their light commercial vehicles being banned from city streets.

Fears over dangerous levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions have prompted a growing number of city councils to explore dramatic solutions in order to protect the health of residents. European Union estimates suggest that as many as 70,000 deaths per year across the union are due in part to excessive levels of NOx, a primary cause of respiratory disease.

Hamburg became the first city to ban older (Euro 5, 4 or lower) diesel vehicles at the end of May, but others are expected to follow suit, including Stuttgart, Munich, Frankfurt, while plans are in place for future bans or charges in several major cities, including Brussels, London, Paris and Rome.

Simon Cook, LCV leader at Arval UK, said, “Fleets are starting to really think hard about introducing and operating these vehicles. Our thinking, in putting this new guide together, was that there is a gap in the information being provided to fleets when it comes to their everyday operation.”

The guide, called ‘Delivering the future’ addresses the principal practicalities of operating EVs, as more manufacturers bring zero emission vehicles to the market.

Payload problems

It addresses critical issues such as payload, because the battery packs in EVs are heavier than their diesel equivalents; as well as the impact of heavy loads and equipment on the range of EVs. 

“Arval has undertaken tests that show when loaded to 75% of the maximum permissible payload, an electric van’s available range can be reduced by more than 70%,” said the guide.

Recharging infrastructure

It also alerts fleet operators to the infrastructure checks required if they are to run EVs, whether this is the capacity of the grid at a depot where several vans might recharge simultaneously overnight, or the availability of off-street charging points for drivers who take their vehicles home in the evening.

Drivers play a critical role in the success or failure of an EV strategy, which demands a different style of driving and prompts fears about both range and recharging opportunities.

Driver approval

“Gaining driver acceptance of electric vans is a crucial operational challenge,” said Arval. It advocates creating ‘EV champions’ who will persuade colleagies of the advantages of the new technology, and said that over time drivers will come to accept EVs, “as long as the suituation is proactively managed.”

Service, maintenance and repair

The day-to-day operation of EVs also requires careful management, from simple safety measures – silent vehicles can present a danger in car parks and compounds – to the procedures to follow in the event of an accident, especially if the integrity of the battery pack has been compromised. Service, maintenance and repair is also a potential risk, given the presence of a high voltage battery system, and Arval warns that even the most minor work should only be carried out by appropriately trained technicians.

But finding trained mechanics may be difficult in the early days, with dealerships only now beginning to give staff the specialist training required to service, maintain and repair electric power train technology. 

As Arval acknowledges, “almost no one in the commercial vehicle sector knows very much about EVs actual operation; we are all beginners. So this guide is designed to provide a basic introduction in four key areas: compliance, day-to-day operation, safety and servicing.”

Download ‘Delivering the future – A guide to operating electric vans’ from the Arval UK website.

Authored by: Jonathan Manning