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British Gas invests in e-NV200 after successful trial

30 April 2014 #CV Show #Features & Interviews #News #Other #Sales #Van

Nissan has announced at the CV Show that British Gas will invest in 100 pure electric e-NV200 vans, following a successful six-month trial of 28 prototype vehicles.

Initially, 50 vans will be delivered over the coming weeks, with the remainder arriving later in the year. Further orders could follow as the energy giant has re-iterated plans to switch 10% of its 13,000-strong fleet to electric power by 2017.

Over the six-month trial period, a total of 60,000 miles were covered by the 28 vans. Both the vehicle manufacturer and the energy company were interested to find out how the vehicle and its Sunderland-made battery pack performed over the winter months.

Rob Morton, Managing Director of Procurement and Supply Chain at British Gas, adding that they didn’t suffer a single breakdown throughout the trial.

The battery itself is a 48-cell unit, broadly similar to the unit found in the LEAF passenger car, although slightly repackaged to fit around the van’s dimensions.

The e-NV200s have a range of up to 100 miles between recharges, which means they are more than capable of coping with the 40 to 45 miles a day the engineers using them typically cover.

The engineers work from home, so British Gas has set up domestic charging facilities using twin-port smart meters. “All the trial vehicles were fitted with 30A chargers, which enables their batteries to be recharged in four hours,” says Morton.

Finance house Hitachi Capital will fund the purchase of the vans as well as managing the new fleet on behalf of British Gas. They will remain in service for five years, by which time a used market for electric vans should have developed says Hitachi Capital Managing Director, John Lawes.

“There isn’t one at present but we think there will be a strong demand in the future,” he says.

Jasdeep Sawhney, Nissan’s Product Manager for the e-NV200 says, “In our trials we found that a single overnight charge gave the majority of the vans enough power to run for the entire day. The use included frequent stop and starts as well as being fully laden.”

Lawes adds, “We have been closely monitoring and analysing the trial throughout the six months it has been running and have been delighted with the way the e-NV200 has performed. We fully expect to see a continued increase in the adoption of electric vehicles for commercial fleet operations, and the success of the British Gas trial provides compelling evidence to support business use of electric vehicles.”

Although British Gas also runs around 600 diesel NV200s and Primastars, it is best-known as an operator of Volkswagen light commercials; and while VW has built prototype electric Caddy vans, it has yet to put them into production.

This gap in the VW line-up will not prompt British Gas to switch all of its business to Nissan however Morton stresses. “We have no plans to operate a single-badge fleet,” he states.


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