Profitability and dominance are all very well but aren’t necessarily linked to fine taste. Just take Donald Trump as an example. Chinese automotive giant, Geely, has been busy playing real-life Monopoly in recent years and after snapping up Volvo, Lotus and just shy of a 10% stake in Mercedes manufacturers, Daimler, they also bought the firm that makes most of the UK’s iconic black taxi cabs. With ultra-cool Swedish minimalism, German posh and a couple of historically great British brands in its portfolio, Geely’s electric taxi badged the TX eCity launched earlier this year under the new LEVC brand it created, and hopes to save traditional cabbies from the some-say-skanky ‘gig economy’
Of huge interest to Vehicle Consulting as a car and van leasing company, though, is the latest news hot off of LEVC’s press that they’re introducing a plug-in hybrid electric van. On our blog we’ve previously covered leading CV manufacturer Ford’s foray into green vans with the Transit Custom plug-in hybrid and reckon it’s only going to be a good thing if more and more alternatives enter the electric/hybrid van market at a time when congestion/emissions zones and government legislation seem to be pushing diesel firmly off the cliff.
Production of LEVC’s as yet unnamed PHEV van is set to kick off in the last quarter of 2019, which will be here before we know it, with the aim of initially manufacturing around 5,000 vehicles before at least doubling output within twelve months. The one-tonne van will offer a similar payload to the Ford Transit and is expected to be underpinned by the same technology as the TX eCity taxi, namely a 31kWh lithium ion battery paired with a 1.5-litre petrol engine, combining for a zero-emissions EV range of around 70-80 miles and a range-extender distance of roughly 370-400 miles. Battery recharging times are also tipped to be impressive at circa 20 minutes from empty via a rapid charger. Some of the mechanical and electrical gubbins will come from Volvo, providing added reassurance to fleet managers contemplating shortlisting LEVC’s van for their drivers.
Dousing any preconceptions that an electric range-extender van like this won’t be able to offer the same payload capabilities as a similarly-sized diesel model, LEVC will be using lightweight aluminium wherever possible, providing strength but not at the expense of weight. The van will be pitched at ferrying goods between out-of-town distribution centres and inner-city destinations.
LEVC’s TX eCity taxi sells for around £59,000, which we admit is far from cheap, but Chinese automotive titans are very keen indeed to kick-start the revolution in environmentally-friendly vehicles and new mobility solutions like car-sharing, so we’re hopeful that some tasty business contract hire packages might be on the table when these vans start hitting UK roads.
Chris Gubbey, LEVC’s CEO, has been eager to extol to the media that the forthcoming van will attract lower total cost of ownership despite its steeper purchase price and that it’ll be exempt from the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEV) coming to London in April 2019 thanks to its range of over 30 miles on electricity, along with similar zero-emissions schemes being rolled out by various councils around the capital.
With most of the attention poured on cars, we’re always chuffed to learn of positive new developments in the light commercial vehicle market and LEVC’s van sounds like an interesting prospect even if we see Ford et al continuing to dominate in the end. What’s more, the Geely-backed electric van will be built in Coventry, which is good news for the UK what with the small issue of Brexit still hanging over us. In the meantime, our contract hire and van leasing consultants are pleased to assist any sole traders, SMEs and larger organisations’ fleets secure the right vans for their requirements whether through outright purchase, finance lease or contract hire.