Bedeo Research Highlights the Urgent Call for Government Backing in Driving the Surge in Electric Retrofit for Commercial Vans

One fifth (20%) of fleet managers would choose to retrofit their existing commercial vehicles in the immediate term to decarbonise, without having to bear the full cost of replacement while their vans still have plenty of miles on the clock.

And if all 20% of the UK’s large van fleet (approximately 150,000 vehicles) were to be retrofitted rather than replaced, British businesses could save billions by 2035 according to new research.

They would also, importantly, retain their existing fleet with significant operational upsides as well as addressing the wider sustainability challenge of disposing of vehicles and expensive fit-outs before the end of their useful working lives.

The research for BEDEO, the electric vehicle supplier and manufacturer, sought the views of 200 named operators of major fleets in the UK and France to uncover what strategies they were pursuing towards electrification and their awareness levels of particular options open to them.

Of fleet operators who were considering new vehicles, more than half (51%) were concerned that the lack of available range with new electric vans would negatively impact operations, and two out of five (40%) said that electric vans were simply too expensive. A similar number (35%) said that even if they were inclined to buy new, the product range was currently too limited.

A number [40%] said that the deadline ‘was still a long way off’, causing concern that some would understandably use this as a reason to kick the decision down the road: “This is precisely where retrofitting can fit in,” says BEDEO’s Founder Osman Boyner, “in giving businesses a cost-effective solution that accelerates their journey towards decarbonisation without having to bear all of the cost.”

A new retrofit solution, widely popular and financially supported by public authorities in France but not in the UK, adds an electric powertrain to the existing diesel without replacing it, adding a further 70+ miles of electric driving to its range (anything up to 600 miles+) and without compromising load space.

In terms of the numbers, replacing an existing large diesel van with a new electric would cost the fleet manager an average of £55,000 per vehicle. This rises to £62,500 per vehicle, when the average amount spent (£7,500 according to the research) on each vehicle fit-out (refrigeration units, racking etc) is taken into account.

Replacing 150,000 vehicles with new electric ones (out of a total large van vehicle parc of 750,000 units) would therefore cost businesses £9.38 billion. By comparison, converting each vehicle at a cost of £25,000 would require a total investment of £3.75 billion – saving businesses £5.5 billion.

Even if a residual value of £15,000 for each vehicle sold on was taken into account (£47,500 x 150,000 = c£7.13 bilion), businesses would still be saving c50% of the total cost of ownership by converting rather than buying new.

Osman Boyner says that adding electric to an existing diesel van by way of an in-wheel motor and battery system would not only save significant money, but also overcome fleet managers’ current concerns regarding range, affordability and sustainability. To that end he is calling for Government action:

“Our research shows that more fleet managers (i.e the remaining 80%) might be more inclined to consider a retrofit solution if there was greater awareness and that’s where Government can play its part through incentives: more than half (54%) had little or even no knowledge of retrofitting, despite the huge benefits it can bring in helping businesses transition to an electric future and accelerate their decarbonization strategies.

“Awareness levels were much higher in France (65%),” he continues, “where the French Government offers a €9,000 retrofit subsidy; no such subsidy is available in the UK, and that is something we are looking to change.”

BEDEO recently launched its RE-100 Range Extender – an advanced retrofit solution which fits to existing diesel vans to make them both electric (first) and/or diesel at the touch of a button. It gives vans 117km of electric range to add the existing c600km diesel range, solving range anxiety issues and low-emission concerns in city centres in one solution.

SMMT data to end 2021 had the UK total van fleet at c4.6 million vehicles. This comprises an estimated 750,000 large vans (i.e greater than 3.5t).

The average cost of a new large electric van in the UK is £55,000 (market comparison); the average cost per fit out is £7,500 (BEDEO research).

Notes to editors:
BEDEO (formerly known as BD Auto) is an electric vehicle supplier and manufacturer of drivetrain solutions based in Farnham. Founded by Osman Boyner in Turkey in 2009, BEDEO has been focused on the production of pure electric light commercial vehicle models. Vehicles manufactured by BEDEO have driven more than 50 million kilometres across Europe including UK, FranceDenmarkThe Netherlands and Italy. BEDEO began offering its range of electric vans in the UK in 2017, and began working with UK supermarket Ocado the following year.  In 2019 Groupe PSA (now Stellantis – the third largest automotive manufacturer in the world comprising Peugeot, Citroen, Opel, Vauxhall and Fiat Chrysler) announced it would be supplying and installing BEDEO electric drivetrain solutions to a selection of its light commercial vehicles.

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Adrienn Sarkany
Adrienn Sarkany
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