With diesel proclaimed as dead by so many voices, partly fuelled (ahem) by ever-increasing concerns over public health linked to emissions, van manufacturers the world over are busy beavering away at developing commercial vehicles with mild and conventional hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell powertrains, but fully electric vans didn’t seem to be within reach – until now.

If you reckon you’ve heard the name Maxus before, it was indeed the name of an LDV van many moons ago, and has been kept alive by China’s mighty SAIC Motor Corporation, which also includes another British badge, MG, in its family.

The 67th IAA Commercial Vehicles show that took place in Hannover recently saw SAIC announce a partnership with LeasePlan, one of the key contract hire funders Vehicle Consulting works with. It’s a big deal both numerically and in terms of importance and will see LeasePlan act as the exclusive European leasing solutions partner for SAIC’s Maxus EV80 van.

Totally electric, unlike any other vans currently in the light commercial vehicle sector, the Maxus EV80 is backed by technology proven in China and other Asian markets. The latest restyled iteration of the EV80 will be offered in four variants, namely as a standard panel van, a high panel van, a chassis-cab or in wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) guise, marking true versatility for fleet managers.

As a benchmark, the Maxus EV80 in standard panel van format has a maximum payload capacity of 950kg, a total volume of 10.2 m3, and dimensions of 3300mm x 1770mm x 1710mm (height).

Van conversion specialists, AMF-Bruns, will also be facilitating customisation of the completely electric Maxus EV80 into an eight-seater passenger crew bus complete with wheelchair accessibility by means of a bespoke lift system with a 56kW motor.

Bundled packages are becoming the norm’ in the leasing and mobility industry, and the long-term rental arrangement set to be offered for the Maxus EV80 WAV includes insurance, damage management, routine maintenance and servicing.

Payload and dimensions - Fully totally completely electric panel van Maxus EV80 LeasePlan leasing contract hire UK fleetsLeasePlan, acting as the white label lease managers behind the EV80 in Europe, will also take care of remarketing, fleet management, finance and RMT, and support will be provided to leasing customers when it comes to electric charging point network infrastructure, serviced by Allegro.

“Today, there are hardly any LCVs on the market that can meet the increasing demand for last-mile delivery in a sustainable way. Our new partnership with SAIC will enable us to serve the growing need for zero emission LCVs – and at a competitive total cost of ownership compared to ICE vans. Making the transition to an electric fleet is one of the easiest ways for businesses to lower their emissions and to help tackle climate change. LeasePlan is fully committed to making it as easy as possible for all our customers to start electric.” – Tex Gunning, LeasePlan’s CEO

The 100% electric Maxus EV80 van is actually already helping many businesses across Europe to reduce their carbon footprints and motoring expenses, from IKEA furniture stores in various German cities serviced by Hertz-branded EV80 vans, to national postal and courier operators in the Netherlands and Slovenia having embraced zero-emissions vans for deliveries.

While it may not boast an iconic badge like Ford or be synonymous with reliability like Volkswagen, we’re immensely excited by the reality of the market’s first up-and-running electric van in the form of the Maxus EV80. SAIC has tipped 2019 to be the year in which it takes Europe by storm and although details are patchy, we really hope the EV80 will be accessible by UK fleets and the door won’t become shut by the small matter of Brexit.

In the meantime, our contract hire account managers are here to assist with any LCV leasing requirements, from traditional diesel vans to those incorporating alternative fuels.