Electric van trials

Fleets offer vital feedback on EV vans during Reflex vehicle trials

Vehicle manufacturers are receiving expert feedback on electric van development during a series of fleet customer trials organised by Reflex Vehicle Hire

Fleet road testers are working with Reflex Vehicle Hire to provide valuable feedback on the future development of electric vans.

The series of tests are designed to provide fleets with a chance to understand more about the potential of electric vehicles and how they would suit their operations, while also helping manufacturers to understand more about what customers want.

The insights offered by fleets will deliver valuable advice on key areas for development following their real-world tests.

Range, recharging and payload are three of the most pressing issues that need to be addressed, according to Shaun Atton, the award-winning fleet manager of Auto Windscreens, who carried out a recent EV assessment. 

The company currently operates a fleet of 359 vehicles, of which 310 are diesel vans.

With vehicles replaced every four years for vans and three years for cars, the proposed government ban on internal combustion-engined vehicles, except hybrids, is just over two replacement cycles away.

For Shaun, diesel delivers when it comes to the flexibility and reliability needed to serve customers who want Auto Windscreens to come to them, rather than visit one of its network of nearly 70 locations.

His fleet vehicles cover several miles a day, carrying significant payloads, so range and space will be critical to any switch to zero-emission vehicles, which will further support the company’s carbon neutral status.

Infrastructure will also be key, as drivers take vans home at the end of the day; company analysis has shown only two-thirds of drivers can recharge on a driveway.

Vehicles must also offer significant space and payload for screens and equipment, including a canopy to protect cars during windscreen replacement work.

Shaun said:

“As it stands, there is nothing available with the features we would require, especially in terms of real-world performance.

“We have to consider that vans won’t achieve their officially stated range, particularly in winter, and recharging will normally take place before the battery is completely empty.

“They’d also need increased range when loaded, to be suitable for our operations.”

Auto Windscreens has been working with the Energy Saving Trust to keep a close eye on market developments as it makes early preparations for a future without internal combustion engines.

Shaun has worked with Reflex Vehicle Hire on assessing a Mercedes-Benz eSprinter; assessments include checking its load bay is large enough to take Auto Windscreens’ standard equipment.

Its official WLTP range of 83 miles (96 miles if a 50mph speed limiter is installed) was also part of the review.

He said:

“The currently available models from manufacturers wouldn’t be suitable for our requirements. However, all the signs are that, with the speed of development, by 2030 we should be able to have fully electric vehicles on the fleet.”

Auto Windscreens has made significant changes to its fleet operation in the past few years to improve compliance and safety standards, reduce maintenance costs and review suppliers.

Electric vehicle charging points have been installed within the Auto Windscreens network and hybrid cars are being introduced to the fleet as part of a wide-ranging fleet review that saw Shaun secure the Most Improved Fleet of the Year Award at the 2020 Fleet News Awards.

To discuss your journey to a zero-emission future, and to arrange a trial of an electric vehicle, contact the specialist team at Reflex Vehicle Hire.

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