It seems that in the face of the approaching climate change a widespread transition to electric powered vehicles is only a matter of time. Operating without a fleet of delivery vehicles would prove impossible in logistics, so this industry is no stranger to this process.

Rohlig Suus Logistics have tested one of the most popular electric powered vans used in cargo transport – the Volkswagen e-Crafter. The company looked at the available data in addition to running their own comparative analysis to assess the financial viability of operating the van in a logistics business. The analysis took into account vehicle running costs excluding sales income. Among the things they looked at were the average fuel and power consumption, the costs of insurance, check-ups and repairs.

Load Space and Range

Rohlig Suus data shows that range proves to be the greatest barrier to the growth of the electric vehicle market. Manufacturer specs indicate that the e-Crafter can travel for up to 174 km on a full charge. The company’s test showed the van’s range to be on average 130 km. For comparison’s sake, a diesel distribution van’s range can be as high as 230 km per day. The difference in van load space is also worth pointing out: whilst an electric van has a little under 1000 kg payload capacity, a combustion engine Crafter’s payload is 1300 kg. This is a meaningful difference for logistics businesses who often move pallets.

Electricity Cost

The cost of electricity is every electric van’s strong point. In the case of the e-Crafter it costs PLN 15.00 to travel 100 km – compare this to PLN 34.00 in a diesel powered van. To a business, this means annual fuel savings of almost PLN 10 000, assuming the average mileage will be 45 000 km. However, when we factor in the electric van’s initial purchase price, the premium will be fully paid off only after 9 years. Nevertheless it needs to be said that e-Crafter’s plain design can significantly cut the risk of major breakdowns post-guarantee since it’s most common for combustion engines to need major overhauls.

When analyzing the purchase prices and the maximum mileage of electric vehicles I can’t see a mass switch from a combustion engine to an electric fleet among logistics businesses in Poland. Nonetheless, the share of electric vans in logistics companies’ fleets may grow, particularly in light of the potential subsidies and the evolution of battery technologies which may end up directly translating into lower purchase costs - said Ilya Klyha, Junior Project Manager at Rohlig Suus Logistics.

E-Crafter Is Good For the Environment

One argument that’s frequently used in the context of electric vehicles is that they’re good for the environment. As evidenced in the „Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM)” 2018 report, electric powered cars cause less environmental pollution than combustion engine cars, particularly when we look at the entire lifecycle. This of course depends on how the electricity needed to power these cars is produced and this is one area where these cars don’t fair all that well in Poland.

The Polish economy continues to mainly rely on coal which is used to generate close to 80% of the country’s electricity. This means that on average, in the process of producing the electricity needed to charge electric cars, large amounts of carbon dioxide continue to be released into the atmosphere. If our goal is to reduce the Transport, Forwarding and Logistics industry’s carbon footprint, we must first and foremost change how we source the energy we will use to power our potentially more eco-friendly electric vehicles – said Ilya Klyha, Junior Project Manager at Rohlig Suus Logistics.

Electricity Is the Future of Automotive

Changes in law combined with the growing consumer awareness and expectations may mean that the use of electric cars will become more commonplace among logistics businesses. This will be additionally fueled by technological advancements and the subsequent decrease in purchase prices. The current e-Crafter maintenance costs are forcing logistics businesses to quote different rates.

The present cost of transportation services is a function of running, purchase and maintenance costs. These constituents are significantly higher with the e-Crafter meaning the rates for these kinds of services must also be higher. That’s why new legal regulations favoring the switch from combustion engine to electric will prove key for popularizing electric transportation. One example of this might be Germany’s lifting of the road tax charged on environmentally-friendly cars. This sort of a tax allowance, if implemented in our country, would make purchasing electric cars more cost-effective and would lead to a decline in the cost of services provided to the end customer – says Dariusz Gołębiowski, Fleet Director at Rohlig Suus Logistics.

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