Production is scheduled to start at Binley, Coventry, by the end of this year with 500 vans due to be built in 2007. The target is an annual 2,000 by 2010.
Trevor Power, Modec business development director, says: “We are determined to get the product exactly right before we start production, and then to build sales gradually.
“Initially, we will sell directly to companies operating a fleet of delivery vans within an urban area. Later, we will look at the advantages of selling through a retail network.”
Power and other Modec directors were part of the team that developed the TX1 taxi for LTI, part of Manganese Bronze. Modec chairman and owner is Jamie Borwick, a former chairman of Manganese Bronze, who purchased the LTI Electric Mercury project which has developed into Modec.
Power says the Modec range will comprise a box van, a chassis cab and a tipper vehicle. A rival to a £20,000 Ford Transit diesel will cost around £23,000, but without the battery.
It is understood that the batteries cost almost as much as the vehicles and Modec is likely to offer to rent them to vehicle owners, with monthly costs broadly equivalent to a typical urban-delivery bill for diesel.
Ocado, which has a contract to make home deliveries for the Waitrose supermarket group, is tipped to buy one of the first production vans for evaluation.
Modec claims its vans, with a top speed of 50mph, will cover up to 120 miles a day before the batteries are recharged overnight.
“Department for Transport figures suggest that delivery vans cover an average of 62 miles a day, well within the range of our vehicles,” says Power.
“We believe the Modec range will appeal to fleets that want to show their green credentials. The vans are virtually silent, emit no pollutants and require less maintenance than diesels. The electric motor has three moving parts, compared with more than 300 in a typical diesel engine.” GE Capital will provide finance to companies buying Modec vans.