The Times They Are A Chanjing

In terms of local delivery, the times they are a chanjing. One of those elements of change is a company called Chanje, which has just launched an all-new electric delivery van in the US.

They are not alone, there are electric trucks and vans popping up everywhere. Transport and delivery operations are looking for an electric solution, especially for their last-mile delivery work. The economics of electric power are starting to change and the companies can see an economic and an environmental advantage.

What has changed? It’s all about the technology. There have been excellent light and efficient electric motors around for a long time, but a couple of other technologies needed to catch up. One was batteries and the other was control systems.

The ongoing interest in electric powered vehicles in the last ten years has seen a lot of expensive research going into battery technology. The explosion in the use of smartphones and handheld devices has also been instrumental in battery technology moving in leaps and bounds in recent years.

The basic battery still tends to rely on old dependables like lithium ion, but with the amount of research taking place around the globe right now, another leap forward can’t be too far away. When this happens the current limiting factor, battery weight versus storage capacity, is likely to disappear and electric vehicles will go from luxury item to everyday normality.

Better computer control of vehicle systems is making recharging of the batteries from regenerative braking much more efficient, increasing efficiency and vehicle range considerably.

These new vehicles tend to live their lives in environments with a lot of people in the vicinity. They are also very quiet when in motion. This is an advantage when transport companies want to deliver in residential areas at night, but will be problematic when pedestrians can’t hear a truck coming.

The solution? It’s probably going to be something like the bell which a tram sounds when moving off and heads through crowded areas. We just need some distinctive sound, which is not intrusive, but ensures pedestrians realise there is an electric vehicle in the vicinity.