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3.5-tonne electric truck set for UK

The UK’s light commercial vehicle market will be joined by its first 3.5-tonne electric light truck by the end of this year.
It will be distributed by Eco City Vehicles, the AIM-listed company that is headed by chief executive Peter DaCosta. 

DaCosta expects to sell the truck in a flagship store in east London on the same site as its KPM-UK subsidiary, which already sells low-emission Mercedes-Benz Vito taxis that are approved London taxis by the Public Carriage Office.

“We want to open up a dealership which specialises in environmentally-friendly vehicles. It would not only be about selling but also offer advice for companies wanting to go green.”

The truck is a Mitsubishi Fuso Canter, supplied by Daimler, which is converted to run on electric propulsion backed up by an onboard LPG-powered generator. 

ECV claims it will have a typical range of around 120 miles with a one tonne payload.

“We believe we have developed a real commercial solution to help the environment and an alternative to pure electric. Our vehicle has been designed to eliminate the fear that an electric vehicle will run out of power and not be able to get back to base. It gives a range sufficient to enable companies to do a day’s work and return home.”

Rival Modec offers an electric-driven light truck with a range of 100 miles. DaCosta said it was impossible to suggest a price for the Canter yet, as he hopes to move manufacturing of the truck to ECV’s UK plant to cut costs dramatically.

He hopes that Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle dealers, which distribute Mitsubishi Fuso in the UK, might also sell the hybrid Canter, but he is yet to have discussions.

“It has to be right for both parties,” he said. Network growth will be driven by where demand for the vehicle lies. After London, DaCosta said, cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow are likely to be involved.

ECV, whose chairman is former Tory minister Tim Yeo, has signed terms with the truck’s maker, Veicolo Ecologici Metropolitani (VEM) in Italy, for exclusive distribution in the UK and Ireland.

The vehicle is currently produced in Portugal but DaCosta said there is space at ECV’s Coventry factory, which already completes the Vito taxi conversions, to accommodate manufacturing the truck.

“I’m hoping to do conversion in the UK. It will bring jobs here and cut the cost of the truck”, he added.

In 2007 Daimler placed ten Mitsubishi Fuso Canter diesel-electric hybrid trucks on a trial with UK companies such as Tesco, TNT and Royal Mail.

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