THE Electric Vehicle Association recently joined forces with the South
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Western Electricity Board to present an exhibition aimed at highlighting the claimed operational advantages of the electricpowered commercial. The event was held in Plymouth and attracted all the major electric vehicle manufacturers including • Leyland, Dodge, Bedford and W &E Vehicles.
One of the problems which the electric vehicle industry has had to face is that of the "milk float image". To many people the electric vehicle is associated with the milk float as a 15mph mobile traffic jam. This is unfair both to the milk float (which does the job for which it was designed) and to the electric vehicle concept in general.
One way of surmounting this prejudice was to develop an electric-powered vehicle which could try to compete with the internal combustion-engined variety on performance, range and economy, as well as providing acceptable ergonomic standards for the driver. Hence the current breed of electric vehicles built around conventional chassis or panel vans.
The Bedford CF is typical of the latter and is scheduled to go into production (albeit limited) in January 1984. The electric CF will be built on the same production line as the normal CF variants with 175 panel vans being scheduled between January and May. Although this initial run will consist entirely of panel vans, Bedford is looking at introducing chassis-cab and chassiscowl variants in due course.
According to Bedford's Bob Calder, government and fleet sales manager, the price of the electric CF is likely to be in the region of £10,000 on a fleet sales basis, with this price including the battery pack and the charger. He claims that this high initial cost will be offset by significant savings in fuel and maintenance costs over an anticipated life of eight years.
The capital cost can also be reduced by around £3,000 if the batteries are leased through the Lucas Chloride scheme.
The provisional performance figures claimed for the CF include an urban range of 80 to 100km (50 to 60 miles), a top speed of 80km/h (50mph) and a 0 to 50km/h (0 to 30mph) time of 11 seconds. Some milk float,..
As with most of the current breed of electric vehicles, the CF features regenerative braking. For normal driving, most of the braking in fact comes from the regenerative mode with the conventional servo-assisted hydraulic system being intended really for emergency use only — or as Bedford expresses it, for "high deceleration situations".
Listed on the debit side along with the high initial price is the payload capability which is just under one tonne for a gross vehicle weight of 3.5 tonnes.
Moving up the weight scale we come to the electric-powered version of the Dodge 50-Series which is based upon the 6.6tonne gross vehicle weight 566 model to give a payload of around two tonnes. Although the internal combustion engined 566 is available in a variety of wheelbases, the choice is restricted to the two longest for the electric variant — for the simple reason that the length is required to accommodate the battery packs.
The effective range claimed for the electric Dodge is about 88 kilometres (55 miles) on an eight-hour charge. The list price for the Dodge is £14,625 which again seems high, but remember that this price includes at least part of a bulk fuel supply. The chassis price is around E8,000 with various "deals" be ing available — extended purchase or leasing — to spread out the battery costs.
David Brain of Karrier claims t`iat the electric vehicle could save nearly £1,000 per year in operating costs over its diesel Equivalent. His figures are based on 80km (50 miles) per day for 250 working days in the year and also take into account the pack of vehicle excise duty for the electric version. It will be interesting to see just what effect tle Chancellor's changes to dery duty and VED have on these Dodge calculations...
The heaviest vehicle available which is powered by electricity
ks' the Leyland Terrier — really a int effort between LV and & E Vehicles of Shrewsbury. LV provides a Bathgate-built chassis for W & E to install the electric drive. Whereas most manufacturers have settled for cne power system (usually from Chloride), the Terrier is offered with the choice of drive-lines lased on Oldham or Chloride t atteries.
Within its 7.5-tonne gvw, the Terrier has a body and payload capability of three tonnes. The present range is 80km (50 miles) and it has a top speed of 65km/h (40mph).
As a change from Electricity Eoards, the first electric Terrier went into service in February with the surveyor's department of the West Midlands County Council. Fitted with a Linktip tipping body, it will be used for sign erection and litter collection.
The West Midlands Terrier is one of three to be built as part of a Department of Industry-sponsored programme with the other two scheduled for Southern Electricity and North Western Electricity. Because of the lack of a conventional internal combustion engine, an auxiliary power pack is required on the Terrier to provide the braking effort. An air compressor is driven by the motor as is the power-steering pump via pulleys and a toothed belt.
At the Plymouth exhibition the relatively low noise level of the auxiliary power pack emphasised just how quiet the 7.5tonne Terrier was in operation.
Comparing operating costs of both electric an internal combustion-powered vehicles has always been difficult because of the lack of an equivalent "fuel consumption". It is not practical to compare tonnes of coal cornsumed at the power station with gallons of dery consumed on the road.., Ronald Whitey, of the South Western Electricity Board, outlined the system _whereby all the Boards in England and Wales buy their electricity from the Central Electricity Generating Board on what is called the bulk supply tariff. Although it is an extremely complex system overall, it does allow for two special battery charging tariffs. The SWEB system gives 101/2 hours of use between 2100 and 0730 hours at 2.95p per unit or 121/2 hours between 1900 and 0730 at the rate of 3.38p per unit.
Mr Whiley claims that having a fixed unit rate and a fixed time period allows the charger to be selected to suit the charging period available with a subsequent accurate prediction of the costs. He emphasises that another factor should be taken into account when considering the charging period and its related tariff and that is the early morning starts required by certain industries. Our old friend the milk float is the classic example.
, Comparative costing on a practical and not just a theoretical basis is extremely difficult to come by with the electric vehicle with the dairy industry coming closer than most. Peter Jordan, regional transport director of Express Dairies (Western) Ltd, produced some interesting figures when he compared a W & E electric vehicle with a Ford Transit 175 diesel, both vehicles being fitted with purpose-built dairy bodywork. The total running cost per annum is £3,996 for electric power compared with £4,451 for the diesel. The duty cycle consisted of some 250 stop/starts per day on a six/seven-day delivery week for 52 weeks of the year.
It was interesting to compare the initial cost of £11,960 (including batteries and charger) for the W & E with the £8,680 for the Transit. Also that the effective life of the Ford is considered to be six years against the 15 of the W & E.
The Shrewsbury-based company of W & E tends to crop up frequently when talking about electric vehicles, and with every justification. At Plymouth the company exhibited a Quartermaster complete with Linktip demountable base frame which can be raised and lowered by twin hydraulic rams. Although that particular example featured detachable support legs, hinged or telescopic types are also available.
One of the main advantages claimed for the electric vehicle is its lower maintenance requirement compared with an internal combustion vehicle. In effect, the engine, clutch, gearbox and cooling system .are replaced by an electric motor and its controller. Again it is a moot point whether the battery pack is part of the vehicle or the fuel.
Lucas Chloride EV Systems claims that motor maintenance is limited to brush changes at around 80,000km (50,000-mile) intervals with the only significant routine maintenance being the topping up of the battery pack at approximately fortnightly intervals.
The battery pack has always been considered as the major factor against greater acceptance of the electric vehicle on the grounds of cost and weight. These comments apply to the lead/acid battery with the sodium/sulphur battery being seen as the development of the future.
However, Don Gribble director of the EVA, does not see a sodi u m/su lphur battery being commercially available "during the 1980s". But Mr Gribble did suggest that within two years the "second generation" lead/acid high-energy density battery would give a range exceeding 115km (70 miles), which would represent an effective doubling of the range over a five-year period. So all is not lost