LEVC Taxi-based van will be everywhere soon

We don’t normally do vans at Only Motors, but this one is so significant we thought it was worth a look. It’s built by LEVC, maker of the iconic London taxi, and it could prove to be a big piece in the puzzle of reducing urban pollution.

The van is based on the same platform as the hybrid TX taxi, of which around 2,000 have been built since production began two years ago. It uses a huge battery pack backed up by a small petrol engine that acts as a generator.

According to LEVC, the van will have an electric range of around 80 miles, with a total range of 377 miles – pretty much the same numbers are quoted for the taxi.

The explosion in on-line shopping has necessitated a massive increase in the number of vans on the road. According to LEVC, around 65,000 “unique” van journeys are made every day in London alone. Currently, the vast majority of vans doing those journeys are diesel-powered, producing a massive amount of London’s pollution.

LEVC is targeting its van at the companies that do those journeys, covering around 100 miles a day. Most other electric vans have such a small range that they are really only suitable for so-called ‘last mile’ deliveries. LEVC’s van has a long enough range that it can reach the out-of-town distribution centres that are currently only accessible to diesel vans.

London is the initial target area as it has already introduced an Ultra-Low Emissions Zone. But most other cities across the UK and the world will be implementing similar clean air zones over the course of the next decade. While most van makers have concentrated on cleaning up their diesel engines – very successfully – few are currently offering viable alternatives.

The LEVC van borrows much else besides its platform and powertrain from the TX. The front-end styling is pretty much the same as is the interior, much of which is shared with Volvo – the two companies are both owned by Chinese giant Geely.

And, like the TX, the van will feature a full suite of passive and active driver safety aids, again from the Volvo parts bin. Indeed, LEVC is promising class-leading safety and comfort.

It won’t be cheap, though. LEVC has yet to announce details, but the van is likely to priced in the same £50,000 ballpark as the TX. However, LEVC offers very competitive monthly leasing deals on the TX, which will no doubt to extended to the van. London also has a scrappage scheme for non-Euro 6 vans and governments grants are available, as well. So the sting is taken out of the initial hit.

LEVC’s CEO Joerg Hofmann, said: ​“Future urban transport is already changing rapidly and we have a golden opportunity to bring something new and disruptive to this market. The light commercial vehicle sector is the only growing vehicle traffic segment in London. But mobility must not come at the expense of air quality. London’s ULEZ is a blueprint and all major UK cities will introduce a Clean Air Zone by 2020. There is huge demand for a medium-sized zero emissions capable light van and the solution we offer will be more than capable of meeting the requirements of a rapidly evolving green logistics market.”

Sales don’t start until the second half of 2020. In the meantime, LEVC is working on a wider range of zero emissions commercial vehicles.

We think they can’t come soon enough. Then the authorities might start to ease the pressure on private car owners.

A vain hope perhaps, but we can dream.

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By Graham King

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