Van, Truck, Trailer, Bus and Coach Aftermarket News in Ireland

Towing reduces electric vehicle real-world ranges

New scientific research coming out of the UK has revealed towing will reduce an electric vehicle’s range by 23-31 per cent against the real-world figure.

The revealing data comes from sustainable mobility specialist Arval UK, with the electric van research carried out at UATC’s Millbrook Proving Ground in England.

Testing was identical and carried out on a dynamometer to accurately and consistently replicate real use driving with differing states of load and while towing a 500kg trailer. Mimicking what happens in the real world, but in repeatable laboratory conditions provides a real-world figure for range and efficiency.

Data published in the latest ‘Electric Vehicles Revealed’ report empowers fleets and businesses with the accurate information they need to make informed decision about the most suitable roles / tasks for electric vans and cars.

Alongside the towing data, the report also provides up-to-date insight into the impact of payload on electric Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs).

For mid-size electric vans, a half load resulted in a dip of seven per cent against the real-world range and an 11 per cent dip with a full load. Add in towing and the range was 24 per cent lower than the unladen real-world maximum. These drops represent a 14 per cent decrease between fully loaded and fully loaded plus towing.

For large electric vans, the half-load figure recorded was an 11 per cent drop, for a full load 14 per cent and when towing the range was 31 per cent lower than the real-world maximum. Moving from full loaded to fully loaded plus towing equates to a 20 per cent drop in range.

In addition, Arval UK’s testing the car also saw a 23 per cent fall in electric range when towing. By comparison, for diesel vans, Arval’s experts use a degradation in fuel efficiency of 15 per cent when towing, against a van that’s at 100 per cent payload.

Report contributor and Arval UK’s LCV consultant, Simon Cook, explained: “For commercial vehicles, which typically tow while also carrying a full load, the research found range was reduced by between a quarter and a third over the real-use figure.

“What does this mean in reality? If your fully-charged van range is typically 120 miles (that’s about 193 kilometres) unladen, then you’re looking at a 83-91 miles (134-146 kms) maximum while towing.

“If you’re already operating on the basis of a range while at 100 per cent payload and a range of 105 miles (169 kms), then the impact of towing will be a 14-22 miles (22.5-35 kms) decrease.”

The Irish Government’s strategy to have 945,000 electric vehicles (cars, vans, trucks, buses etc.) on the road by 2030 does not remotely look achievable. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) says electric cars currently number about 60,000, which is only circa 2.7 per cent of the total car fleet in Ireland.

With the financial incentive for electric cars reduced by €1,500 at the beginning of this month (1st July) coupled with supply issues and car dealer pricing difficulties on electric car trade-ins, the momentum is not where it could be right now.

The British Government’s initial target for new electric vehicles sales is set at 22 per cent for cars and vans in 2024, so knowing which roles electric vans are suitable for is vital. While company cars in the UK are incentivised through attractive benefit-in-kind rates, electric company vans have relatively little government support.

“Electric vehicles are very good for the act of towing. Their smooth and instant power delivery really helps. However, the range and charging infrastructure mean electric vans won’t work for all businesses’ needs at this point in time,” Cook added.

“Arval’s data empowers fleet managers and corporations to work out which jobs electric vans can do now. It also shows that when upcoming new longer-range electric vans are available, how these could be used by businesses.

“Solving the BEV adoption hurdles in the wider LCV market may need some significant work, but in all but a couple of areas progress is being made.

“Van ranges in the small and medium sectors are improving rapidly. Charging infrastructure is seeing significant investment (but not at as much pace here in Ireland). There are however still difficulties surrounding larger eLCVs that cover higher mileages.”

The second in the ‘Electric Vehicles Revealed’ report series highlights that the biggest nettle to grasp is by businesses that operate larger LCVs over higher mileages.

The report points out these fleets may need to look at their entire transport and logistics business model. Disruption in this area could provide a solution perhaps through more vehicles and more localised operations. However, the immediate impact of such a move is currently a significant increase in costs.

In the UK, the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) has said that fleets there feel misled over the claimed range of electric vans, after finding that they are falling short of official figures by up to 50 per cent in some cases.