As the EV expands across the various vehicle segments, one of the larger holes yet to be filled is that of the electric light commercial vehicle (eLCV).
Thankfully, that situation is starting to change – to the point that 2023 is looking like becoming Australia’s ‘year of the eLCV’! Certainly, with the arrival of the LDV eT60 the saving of the tradies’ ute has begun. (If perhaps only for cashed-up ones at present: but competition is coming).
Vans are also starting to arrive: The 1.5 to 2 tonne segment now has the Mercedes eVito van, LDV eDeliver 9 and Skywell EC11. Soon there will also be the Ford e-Transit and the even bigger Renault Master e-Tech.
And, although we only have the aging Renault Kangoo as the sole the three quarter tonne segment offering, 2023 will see the arrival of the all-new Kangoo e-Tech and the Peugeot e-Partner vans.
However, to date what has been missing is perhaps the biggest part of that segment: the 1t van and cab-chassis. Popular with small businesses and local councils, even in ICE (internal combustion engine) versions the ranks of more budget oriented options have thinned somewhat in recent years. Signs of a change are coming though.
A new set of eLCVs in this segment are being shown for the first time at the Fully Charged Live event in Sydney this weekend.
The initial range will include a 1t light van and single cab light truck (with perhaps the later addition of a dual-cab light truck as well), with demonstration left-hand driver versions of the van and single-cab tray brought to Australia by fledgling EV importer EV Automotive.
Having runs now on the board with its Skywell EC11 1.7t van and 12 seat bus, it is now planning to expand into the 1t segment with offerings from Chinese manufacturer Victory.
The units on display are left-hand drive and purely for evaluation and initial Australian homologation purposes – however they are a good indication of what to expect when they arrive as ADR approved, right-hand drive versions.
As to when that will happen: Peter Benardos from EV Automotive says he can’t put an exact date on that due to the vagaries of ADR compliance processes, but it will be ‘sometime in 2024’.
The examples on display have been brought in to solicit feedback on what features and changes potential buyers would like to see in the final versions.
Specifications for the EC2 van and EC1 light truck include a 1000 kg payload for the tray and 965 kg for the van, a 41kWh battery with ‘around 250 km range’ (the models have yet to be formally rated on the WLTP cycle) and a central touch-screen for controlling the basic vehicle functions.
The interior is simple with seating for two, although the cabin is surprisingly roomy enough for most.
The steering column is non-adjustable, but the driver’s seat has all the basic adjustments to allow for a good range of driver sizes and seating positions.
The van has a 4.8 cubic metre load volume, whilst the single cab tray is long enough to take up to 2.8 m lengths within the confines of the tray. Drive is done via the rear wheels with the motor and reduction gear unit bolted directly to the diff.
Initially only the van and single cab will be offered, although the dual-cab may be included at a later date, depending on interest.
According to EV Automotive, pricing at this stage is very tentative but should be in the region of $50,000 inclusive of GST, but not including on-roads or EV rebates.
As this segment hots up through 2023 and into 2024, we will also see the much-anticipated Ford e-Transit custom 1t van arrive early next year.
Whilst that van will offer a longer driving range and more upmarket features that the business-basic Victory, it also won’t be within spitting distance of the Victory’s prices.
For budget conscious small businesses such as cafés and florists or local builders, plasterers and the like where ‘local’ is their mantra: the Victory is a potential contender for Australia’s 2024 ‘Budget eLCV Award’.
Now, as per usual for intending Australian EV customers: we’ll just have to wait a bit longer. (Something we are all too used to here after a decade of federal inaction on the climate in general and cleaner vehicles in particular).
Note: The Driven has a stand at Fully Charged. Please drop by and say hello, we even have some merchandise on offer!
Bryce Gaton is an expert on electric vehicles and contributor for The Driven and Renew Economy. He has been working in the EV sector since 2008 and is currently working as EV electrical safety trainer/supervisor for the University of Melbourne. He also provides support for the EV Transition to business, government and the public through his EV Transition consultancy EVchoice.