Small Cargo EVs For Cities Could Be A Game Changer

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I recently ordered some groceries online from a local supermarket in Harare and when the delivery arrived I was surprised to see a very big lorry outside the gate to drop off the groceries. When the delivery guy opened the back of the lorry, I was even more surprised to see that only my groceries were in the back of that huge lorry. I then wondered, had they consolidated a lot of orders that day and I happened to be at the end of the line? Or was the lorry ever full that day? That delivery service needed a more right-sized solution, I thought. It’s really such a waste to burn all that diesel when a right-sized EV could do the job if they were available in the local market.

I have also noticed that a lot of young people doing deliveries for fast food, chocolate, flowers, and other things are using their personal cars which in most cases are in the range of a Honda Fit, Toyota Corolla, or a VW Polo. In most cases in this part of the world, this is the only job they have, and maximizing profit for the day’s shift is the main goal and therefore reducing the main driver of their operational costs (the high cost of petrol) would go a long way in improving their income.

We have seen Renault introduce a van version of its popular Zoe. The Zoe van has a 245-mile range and is available in two well-equipped specifications — Business and Business+. It has a 52 kWh battery, an 80 kW R110 electric motor, and has 50kW DC charging. But it starts from about £25,000. Another French automaker has just announced the cargo version of the Citroen Ami. It has a 5.5 kWh battery, a 6 kW motor, a top speed of 45 km/h, and can carry goods of about 140 kilograms, but most importantly, you can get one for about €6,000. Another good thing is the Ami is produced here in Africa, in Morocco, helping create employment on the continent.

Could we start seeing more firms introduce these types of small city cargo vans in this price range? Immediately one starts to think about the Wuling MINI EV. The Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV has been breaking records in China, selling over 30,000 vehicles per month in recent times.

The $4,200 MINI EV has two battery options and some decent specs for that price:

  • 120 km of range using 9.2 kWh battery (NEDC I suppose) for just $4,112
  • 170 km of range using 13.8 kWh battery (NEDC I suppose) for $5,540
  • A top speed of 100 km/h
  • A 13 kW and 85 Nm electric motor
  • Can seat up to 4 people
  • Very decent boot space of 741 liters of space when the rear seats are folded down
  • 2,917 millimeters long, 1,493 millimeters wide, and 1,621 millimeters high, with a 1,940-millimeter wheelbase

The General Motors, SAIC, and Wuling alliance have shown that they really want to sell this little car by adding the trendy Macaron Edition as well as the convertible version known as the Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV Cabrio in a major marketing drive. A cargo version of the Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV would be very welcome. The Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV is helping create a new market for city EVs, and several other firms such as Levdeo and Changan are adding these small city EVs to their portfolio. Adding cargo options of these would be awesome at those prices and could be a game changer in the delivery and logistics industry. These EVs, if they were available in this part of the world, would be in the same price range as a used Honda Fit but much cheaper to run on locally generated electricity, making them affordable for young people doing deliveries or building their own fleet for their small business.

Featured image credit: Citroen


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