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'Given the choice, many companies opt for eco-friendly solutions'

With electric vehicles (EVs) now commonplace on city streets, electric light commercial vehicles (eLCVs) are coming to light as the next frontier in emobility. We sat down with Twan van den Elsen, Manager Product and Channel Development at Alphabet International, to learn about what needs to happen for eLCVs to gain traction in company fleets.

Welcome, Twan. Thank you for speaking with us today. Why are eLCVs so promising for the mobility industry – especially in cities?

In a nutshell, eLCVs fulfil all the requirements for driving in urban areas today. They are quiet, so there’s little to no noise pollution. The stop-and-go style of urban driving is a big air pollutant and eLCVs can help keep the air in our cities cleaner. Also, drivers don’t need much range in cities, a fact that also speaks for eLCVs. Certainly, mounting concern over diesel vehicles makes electric-fuelled LCVs more attractive. Especially for companies that prioritise sustainability.

Is that reason enough for companies to switch to eLCVs?

For some it is. But others need additional motivation. Local programmes that offer free or reduced-price parking for electric vehicles or allow eLCVs to drive in areas off-limits to combustion cars can be very effective. Convenience and cost-savings are great tools. Last but not least, some markets sweeten the deal with government grants.

Sounds like a lot speaks for eLCVs. So what’s standing in the way of them becoming as everyday as EVs?

There’s always a threshold new technologies must overcome before a critical mass adopts them. In the case of eLCVs, costs and charging infrastructure are roadblocks for many companies. Also, the number and variety of models is still limited. A new player like StreetScooter who we’ve partnered with in the Netherlands, recently filled this market gap by providing types of eLCVs that were previously unavailable. So you could say things are moving in the right direction.

Even with many advantages eLCVs offer, the fact remains that their upfront cost is higher than combustion-engine LCVs. And fleet managers, of course, must consider their budgets. Government subsidies can play an essential role here in promoting eLCVs. Companies also want to be certain that eLCVs really fit their driving needs. At Alphabet, part of our consulting service includes advising clients on cost-optimised ways to integrate eLCVs into their fleets. More and more, we are finding eLCVs help companies meet their targets.

Whenever we speak about fully-electric vehicles, charging infrastructure crops up. Thankfully, in this day and age most drivers in urban areas can rest assured that their eLCV’s range is sufficient. Worst case scenario: they have to visit a charging point nearby. Many companies that drive electric have charging points on the company premises anyway. The real challenge we face is helping companies understand that the technology and infrastructure for eLCVs is available and ready to go! The take-away message: if your route is less than 100 km and your load is light, eLCVs are a great option.

Let’s move here from theory to practice. Tell us about one company that successfully uses eLCVs.

The Deutsche Post made headlines by using eLCV solutions from our partner StreetScooter and by showing an overall commitment to emobility. This is great publicity for eLCVs because the logistic company’s vehicles are omnipresent countrywide. Ultimately, when given a choice, many companies do opt for eco-friendly solutions.

A company’s decisions are often driven by the numbers. Can you share some hard facts with us about eLCVs’ positive impact?

The Electrification Potential Analysis (EPA), which included a MCT analysis, of our client forServices in Italy revealed measurable ways to reduce their environmental impact while allowing them to grow their business. Within 26 days, the company introduced 13 eLCVs to their new location in Rome and increased their number of electric vans in Milan, Florence and Torino. This resulted in a 61% drop in C02 emissions! The figures really speak for themselves.

Any parting words you’d like to share with readers?

Whether LCV or eLCV, I always remind companies and drivers to practice safe LCV driving habits!

Thanks, Twan, for sharing your insights with us. We are certain we’ll hear more about eLCVs in the future!