Nissan, maker of the popular LEAF all-electric sedan, is on track to offer a 100 percent electric delivery van next year. That’s good news for urban delivery fleet managers looking to reduce their carbon emissions, and it’s also good timing on Nissan’s part. Called the e-NV200, the new vehicle will slip into a market that is quickly becoming saturated with public and workplace charging stations, giving route planners far more flexibility than they would have had just a few years ago.
Nissan’s new e-NV200 electric delivery van
The flexibility aspect could become quite interesting in the future, as Nissan makes the point that like all EVs, its e-NV200 runs quietly compared to conventional delivery vans. That opens up the possibility for late-night deliveries without running afoul of local noise ordinances.
Nissan has put the van through two years of on-road testing with several commercial fleet partners prior to setting the 2014 launch date, so although the company anticipates some future minor tweaks it looks like the e-NV200 has met its performance goals.
The e-NV200 incorporates the LEAF’s electric powertrain, and the vehicle itself is based on Nissan’s familiar multipurpose NV200 van. Compared to the conventional van, e-NV200 drivers will experience smoother acceleration from the electric powertrain, an important advantage on urban stop-and-go delivery routes.
Nissan is also working on a light truck based on LEAF technology. Called the e-NT400, the truck would have a range of about 87 miles on its lithium-ion battery pack. With a one hour quick-charge option, the e-NT400 could be recharged during a driver’s lunch break.
Good timing for Nissan electric delivery vans
Though the e-NT400 truck apparently won’t be available for several years, the e-NV200 is hitting the market at a good time.
In addition to the skyrocketing availability of public charging stations, evidence is mounting that electric fleets save money over time. A recent MIT study of electric truck fleets, for example, demonstrated that the payback period can be much shorter than anticipated.
That’s partly because, in addition to fuel savings, electric vehicles typically involve less maintenance and repair costs.
Another part of the equation involves the potential for integrating an EV fleet into the local grid, using the vehicles’ battery packs to help smooth out local demand spikes. By arranging a “V2G” (vehicle-to-grid) partnership with local utilities, companies can squeeze some extra value out of their fleets, over and above their use on the road.
Federal support for EV fleets
Nissan’s timing is also good with respect to the Obama Administration’s strong support for companies to transition their fleets to EVs.
The Administration’s Clean Cities public-private partnership is well under way, a major component of which is the Clean Fleets program. In addition to EVs, Clean Fleets includes a number of alternative fuel and fuel efficiency initiatives.
Clean Fleets launched in 2011 under the U.S. Department of Energy. It currently boasts a list of two dozen U.S. fleet operators, including some of the top companies in the nation. For a look at the initiatives of each company, you can click on the following links to their Clean Fleets page:
Advanced Disposal Services, AMP Americas, ARAMARK, AT&T, Best Buy, Coca-Cola, Enterprise Holdings, FedEx, Frito-Lay, GE, Johnson Controls, Inc., Kwik Trip, OSRAM SYLVANIA, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, PepsiCo, Ryder, Schwan’s Home Service, Staples, ThyssenKrupp Elevator, UPS, Veolia Environmental Services, Verizon, and Waste Management.
[Image: e-NV200 compact all-electric van courtesy of Nissan]