ecoInnovation Award 2013 Emerald Automotive Fuel consumption and tail-pipe CO2 emissions are pretty much top of the agenda these days and when it comes to innovation and the development of alternative drive systems the big bucks are being spent on passenger cars. Light commercials and what they are used for is much more diverse and therefore more complicated. For the time-being diesel is the king, certainly for inter-urban work, and there is a case for small, pure electric delivery vans on set, stop/start duty cycles.
There is a new company, however, which is developing a diesel range-extended electric 3.5 tonne panel van. The 2013 ecoInnovation Award goes to Emerald Automotive for the t-001 prototype. Due to go into series production in 2014 it’s being targeted initially at large fleets to establish the required economy of scale for the project to move forwards.
Based on a bespoke aluminium chassis and floorpan t-001 is rear-wheel drive and uses the suspension, rear axle and brakes from the current Ford Transit. The 70hp 1.4-litre diesel range-extender engine is also sourced from Ford and a battery pack is housed under the load floor between the chassis rails.
Fully charged the batteries can power the van for up to 60 miles, but once empty the diesel kicks into life, driving a generator strapped directly to it. This in turn is used to recharge the batteries and provide current to the electric motor, extending the potential range to in excess of 400 miles. At no time are the rear wheels powered directly by the diesel engine so fuel consumption should easily exceed 100mpg, equating to very low tailpipe CO2 emissions.
Having driven the prototype (a report will be published shortly) we are very impressed. We like the approach and see it being viable in real-world operations; we look forward to driving the finished product.