DPD to test LEVC range-extended electric van ahead of launch


Delivery firm DPD will be trialling van conversions of the LEVC range extender taxi - ahead of the VN5 van launch later this year - to see how they work on some routes where a fully electric van is not viable.

LEVC, the brand behind the London black taxicabs, created the first electric taxi, the TX in 2017. Its VN5 Electric Van - a 2.5 tonne low emissions vehicle will be available in the UK in quarter four, 2020. The Range Extending Vehicle will offer a fully electric powertrain with a Pure EV range of 63 miles, and a total flexible range of over 300 miles.

Due to the similarities between TX and VN5, LEVC is deploying a fleet of converted TX-based prototypes with a full interior van conversion for trials.

DPD will be testing the technology using a specially adapted LEVC vehicle. The team will be looking at how the vehicle operates in different driving conditions, and with different loads and on different types of routes, using the full capability of the range extending technology.  

While DPD has successfully rolled out EVs and charging technology to all its UK depots, the company has challenges on the road to zero emissions, including the supply of enough electric vehicles. Range is another issue, especially in less urban areas, where DPD vehicles often have to travel a significant distance to get to the start of the delivery route.

Dwain McDonald, DPD's CEO commented, "We are committed to having the greenest fleet in the UK, as soon as possible. While EVs remain our priority, we are keen to look at a wide range of technologies to help solve different challenges. We've developed a great model for large urban centres and EVs are working well out of our regional depots on many routes. But, inevitably, we have a number of routes where we have to drive a significant number of stem miles from the depot just to get to the first delivery address. At the moment, the limited range on pure EVs, means we can't move away from diesel vans for these routes.

"It is great to work with LEVC.  It is such an iconic British brand and another great Midlands-based business. We are keen to see how the technology works for us. It is a very flexible solution and it could well help solve a few challenges.  It is very smart, and we like that. For example, we could use geo-fencing so that it switches automatically to electric-only on entering urban areas, including low emissions zones.  We will certainly give it a good test and we'll see how it works out.  In the meantime, we are taking delivery of more EVs every week, right across our depot network and the feedback from our drivers and customers has been excellent."

Joerg Hofmann, LEVC CEO, commented: "We are delighted that DPD is the first company to begin testing of our VN5 taxi-van prototypes. These real-world tests mark a milestone occasion in the history of LEVC, as the company continues its transformation from an iconic British taxi brand to a leading electric vehicle manufacturer.

"VN5 is set to revolutionise green logistics and we are looking forward to working with DPD as it puts the vehicle through its paces. Feedback from major business operators will be crucial to the further development of the van as we rapidly move to its launch in Q4 this year."