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Fleets are crucial to the decarbonisation of the country as they present an enormous opportunity to scale the progress of electrification. It is widely acknowledged that the electric car market is experiencing profound growth with an estimated 400,000 all-electric cars on the road in the UK; however, we are not seeing the same figures translating in the sales of electric vans. Although van ownership continues to rise to 4.6 million, only 0.3% (or 13,800) are running on electric.

There are many obstacles facing van users and fleets, which are hindering the growth in electric van sales, which are still far behind the electric car market. A prominent issue van fleets are facing is the lack of infrastructure to support electric vans.  For example, even charge point operators have admitted that public charging facilities are tailored to car usage rather than vans which means impracticalities like the spacing and positioning of chargers can make it impossible for a van to manoeuvre in and out of. It is therefore essential that roadside assistance companies take action to support the challenges facing van fleets both through this transitional period and for when the mass adoption of electric vans takes place.

Despite the challenges the charging infrastructure poses to electric van drivers, some companies have invested heavily in electrifying their fleet. For example, Sunbelt Rentals – the UK’s largest rental equipment provider has recently signed a £1.1 million electric van deal with the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) which will see 22 new VN5 electric vans introduced to their fleet. As part of Sunbelt Rentals’ strategy for positive change, the ‘Our Planet’ action plan is the company’s blueprint for a greener future and has pledged a commitment to reduce the carbon intensity of its operations by 35% by 2030. By adopting the VN5’s into their fleet, the company are clearly making this vision a reality.

Making the switch to an electric van fleet from a diesel driven one, is not a seamless transition. Sunbelt Rentals have already experienced the problem of having an electric van being run flat before it was able to reach a static charging station. Luckily, the RAC have anticipated this problem and have invested in the pioneering Original ADS Charge Pod system which was able to provide an emergency power boost to the flat electric van from a standard patrol vehicle, so that it could be driven to the nearest van-suitable static charging station.

By implementing the Charge Pod system into the RAC’s fleet, the RAC are alleviating the concerns the charging infrastructure poses and are providing electric van fleets with the crucial reassurance they need that they are fully equipped to deal with any problems electric van drivers may be faced with, wherever they are.

Because there are more challenges with providing an ‘out-of-charge’ service to electric vans than cars, it means all other solutions to the problem of out of charge electric vans are not fit for purpose.

Portable batteries are one alternative. However, portable batteries only have a limited amount of power available before they need to be recharged. Due to the size of the battery on an electric van, it means that the portable battery is at a higher risk of running out of power before the electric van has enough charge to reach a charging station. The roadside assistance company will then be left with the same problem they were sent out to deal with. Additionally, because of the size and weight of the battery pack, there is not enough room in existing patrol vehicles to implement this solution. Roadside assistance companies would therefore need to purchase a separate vehicle to provide this single service to EV drivers, which would increase costs considerably.

Although some EVs have a ‘tow mode’, the majority of EVs carry the risk of being damaged if they are towed. Therefore, one alternative solution for an electric van which has run out of charge, is to be recovered with all wheels lifted and driven to a static charging station. However, flatbed recovery trucks cannot be used in certain locations. For instance, some narrow streets and multi-storey car parks are extremely restricted on space. Therefore, accessing a customer in certain locations is not possible. Furthermore, it is in the interest of all companies to reduce their environmental impact where possible. The CO2 emissions of deploying a flatbed recovery truck are up to 30 times higher than when a standard patrol vehicle equipped with Charge Pod is sent to assist. Then, to transport the van to a static charging station once it has been recovered will lead to an even greater carbon footprint.

In contrast, Charge Pod is a lightweight and compact charging system which offers 100% duty cycle, so it can be fitted onto patrol vehicles which are already in service and as it never runs out of power, thanks to the purpose-built vehicle mounted generator, it is always ready for use and can provide any electric vehicle on the roads today with as much charge as is needed to get an EV to a static charging station. It is for these reasons Charge Pod is the best emergency charging solution for EVs on the global marketplace.


Further information:

To read more about our pioneering Charge Pod system, click here: Charge Pod: The Lightweight and Compact Mobile EV Charger (originalads.co.uk)

For more information about Sunbelt Rentals ‘Our Planet’ plan, check out there website here:  Our Planet | Our Plan For A Positive Change | Sunbelt Rentals

To find out more about RAC EV breakdown cover, click here: Electric Car Breakdown Cover | #1 For EV Breakdown | RAC

For more real-life scenarios where EVs have run out of charge before they have been able to reach a static charging station, click here: Running out of charge stories – Original ADS