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Restricted access: Are eLCVs soon a must for fleets?

eMobility is a frequent topic of conversation here on the blog. Today, we’re speaking once again about the new technology – with a little twist. I sat down with my colleague Nina Pichler, Product Manager at Alphabet International to talk about what could potentially be the next big thing and useful businesses solution in eMobility: electric light commercial vehicles, or eLVCs.

Hello, Nina, nice to speak to you. Before diving deeper into the topic, I have a few general eMobility questions. What do you think are some of today’s biggest advantages and disadvantages of driving electric?

Anytime we speak about electric vehicles the range is among the first questions to pop up. It’s true that in the past an electric vehicle’s (EV) range was a real concern for some customers. People could drive a maximum of 100 to 120 kilometres on one charge and needed to closely consider their route and driving profile, and possibly identify charging stations along the way before taking off. But a lot has happened in the past 2-3 years to advance and improve battery life. Today, we’re seeing some EV models boasting a range of 400 kilometres. This huge improvement in a short amount of time makes driving electric markedly more attractive to a wider part of the population. In fact, we anticipate the range, considered the main disadvantage today, to no longer be an issue.

In terms of advantages, many of eMobility’s biggest ones are highly market-specific. In countries with generous financial incentives to purchase electric vehicles, such as government grants, buying an EV is more financially advantageous than in markets with limited or no incentive programmes. It’s true that the upfront cost of an EV is higher than a combustion vehicle, so these government-sponsored bonuses help offset the difference and push people or companies to go for it. Last but certainly not least, EVs help reduce emissions, especially when they are charged with green energy.

Are there any other specific advantages that businesses using EVs or eLCVs stand to profit from?

We’re seeing a number of countries favouring electric vehicles in new parking and traffic policies, for instance, by offering them free parking in pay to park zones. Another new trend that’s cropped up recently in pioneering cities like Milan is charging combustion vehicles a fee to enter the historic city centre. Essentially the rule here is no EV, no free access. If you’re a business with an eLCV, you have a huge advantage over the competition in areas like these. The same goes for cities with noise ordinances that forbid deliveries at night in neighbourhoods that are a mix of residences and businesses.

eLCVs can often get around this because they are so quiet, which means, in theory, they can deliver goods earlier without disturbing residents. However, it’s important to remember that eLCVs, just like their traditional counterparts, are a special breed of vehicle to drive and have specific safety requirements!

Do any of our clients currently use eLCVs?

Yes, our client Deloitte Italy does, for instance. Actually, they are located in Milan at the heart of what could become an eLCV revolution in Europe. It’s exciting to see places adopting these kind of policies and we’re curious to see which cities follow suit.

LCVs require more power than cars. How can a company determine if an electric version, an eLCV, would come into question or not?

It is absolutely correct to assume that eLCVs are not suitable for all loads, in particular really heavy components or materials. That’s why florists or caterers, for instance, are well served by eLCVs. For companies concerned about the range, by performing an Electrification Potential Analysis (EPA) we are able to analyse the route and help identify the required charging infrastructure.The lay of the road – hilly or flat – can also influence the total range of an eLCV. We are happy to show clients a few tricks to help them optimally use eLCVs. Our clients really appreciate the insight into eMobility our consulting services provide.

What are the latest alternative-power trends for LCVs?

Cars were certainly the pioneers in the electric vehicle movement. Now that they have gained traction (pun intended!), more and more manufacturers are coming out with electric LCVs. Overall, the desire for sustainable mobility is at the foreground of the EV/eLCV movement, though government incentives and other policies that favour alternatively-powered vehicles are effective in grabbing people’s attention and pushing them to convert. This is proven by the fact that countries with tax incentives for EVs have a larger EV market.

Describe to us an ideal situation for using an eLCV.

First and foremost, the route should be around 50-60 km one-way to ensure you can return to home base. This is reasonable for many businesses since 90% of their trips are less than 100 km. Second, your load should be light. Third, you want the option of charging somewhere, just in case. Generally speaking, businesses that operate in cities and haul lightweight goods should look into eLCVs.

Thanks so much, Nina, for sharing your expertise on eLCVs and for insight on innovative mobility solutions for businesses.