Electrification – a growth industry
David Cole visited Excel for the London EV Show and discovered a whole industry supporting the transition to zero-emission mobility. Primarily focused on the car and light commercial market, much of the infrastructure coverage was equally applicable to larger vehicles
While cars provided much of the London EV Show’s headline glamour, there were light commercial vehicles from several manufacturers including DAF, Ford and Saic Maxus (supplied by Heathrow LDV Ltd) whose products can also form the basis of minibus conversions.
The sole representation of the bus manufacturing industry was a shell stand occupied by Karsan from Turkey, further emphasising their intention to launch into the UK market in 2024. The launch product will be the e-Jest, a 5.8m electric midibus with a maximum capacity of 22 passengers and a maximum range of 210km. Based on electric technology from BMW, this product is attracting a following in the USA and the first right-hand-drive example is already bound for Japan.
Relieving range anxiety without lengthy downtime is a key challenge in driving the acceptance of EVs and there was a wide range of charging service and charger providers showing off their wares. A noticeable trend is the ever-increasing charging rates being offered, demanding significant instantaneous power requirements from the National Grid and also close consideration of the impact of high charging rates on battery life.
Eko Energetyka chose the event to launch their new Axon Easy 400 charger, suitable for all electric vehicles and delivering up to 400kW, subject to a peak current of 500amps (600 amps with liquid cooled cables). The company has been involved with charging electric buses since 2011 and its first charger, developed alongside Solaris’ electric bus product, is still in operation at a depot in Krakow.
The Lithuania based Elinta group is known in the UK as the supplier of electric components for many of the electric minibus conversions of Mercedes-Benz and Iveco light commercials. Within the group, Elinta Charge offer a selection of compatible charging options from their range that spans home chargers up to the 44kW CityCharge V2 Plus. At the other end of the power range, Portugal based Hellonext were promoting their Hello H2 480 DC charger unit designed to simultaneously charge four vehicles. It is available in 40kW increments up to 480kW.
Maintenance requirements for electric drive-trains may be less compared with conventional fuels but operators will need to prepare to work on high voltage systems. Even if the manufacturer is contracted in to undertake work initially, second life is likely to require re-equipping workshops with specialist tools and equipment, a challenge also to be posed by the large numbers of hybrid vehicles that will likely come on the market in the next few years.
Suppliers present at LEVS included Megger, a long-established supplier of measuring equipment to the electricity industry which now offers a testing unit specifically for use with EVs, the EVT100 and Cementex, a US company offering a wide range of insulated hand tools and personal protective equipment. It also provides the required routine retesting services for these products.