CoolKit is responding to rapidly growing demand for refrigerated, or temperature-controlled pure electric vans for their customers who are looking to realise the exciting and potentially lucrative benefits of operating this type of vehicle. Commensurately, they have invested heavily into understanding these vehicles and how best to convert them into reliable and durable refrigerated vehicles.
TCS&D spoke to Managing Director Rupert Gatty to learn more about their findings so far.
Electrification is universally recognised as a rapidly growing alternative source of vehicle power. Indeed, the government has set a clear long-term ambition for all new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2040, and for nearly every car and van to be zero emission by 2050. In addition to those factors, electric vehicles are proving especially popular with low mileage users – not because of driving range limitations, but because diesel fuelled vehicles are prone to expensive DPF failures if they aren’t driven for long enough to facilitate proper regeneration.
Our earliest findings applicable to electrically powered temperature-controlled vehicles were that they were popular with campus-based institutions such as colleges and universities – but it is now clear that there is rapidly growing demand from all sectors of industry.
Since 2005, CoolKit has converted numerous electric vehicles for temperature controlled use, including close collaborations with Renault UK which was showcased on their Kangoo ZE exhibited at this year’s UK Commercial Vehicle Show. By working closely with technology providers that can provide the right solutions to our customers individual needs, we have substantially increased our knowledge with each conversion and are now recognised as true sector specialists.
Typical specifications will include an additional array of powerful, low fatigue lithium ion batteries for the purpose of powering an isolated on-board refrigerating system, often arranged with other high technology equipment such as battery protection, data-logging and telemetry systems. The use of independent batteries ensures that our conversion draws no power from the vehicles own battery and therefore crucially has no impact on the real-world driving range promised by the vehicle manufacturer, which is a critical aspect of electric vehicle ownership in overcoming range anxiety. It is also vital that the vehicles own re-charging period is not prolonged by any ancillary equipment and therefore it is an important consideration that any such batteries can be re-charged in a shorter period.
EMISSIONS AND CONGESTION CHARGING
Taking London in particular, one of the major attractions of electric vehicles is their immunity to the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) regulations which are scheduled to go live in London from 8th April 2019. With London being one of CoolKit’s largest customer areas, it was critical that we investigated suitable products for that market, so that we could continue to satisfy the needs of our customers operating in the region, as well as enabling us to appeal to other fleet operators.
Elsewhere in the UK, from 2020, the most polluting commercial vehicles will be discouraged from driving in designated Clean Air Zones or CAZ’s. The first five of these Zones will include areas of Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton – where air quality problems are seen to be most serious, and councils will be able to set their own charges for entry into the Zones at levels designed to reduce pollution. It is widely anticipated that pure electric vehicles will be exempt from charges and there is little doubt that there will be more CAZ’s in the years to come.
Many of our customers enquire about the practicality of using vehicles of this type not only in terms of upholding the driving range, but in terms of the productivity of the vehicle based on how much usable payload can be expected. It’s true that electric vans obviously carry additional battery weight, but it should also be remembered that this is in lieu of other equipment including a combustion engine, a refrigerant compressor with mounting brackets and piping to and from that engine, so the impact on usable payload is less than might otherwise be anticipated.
Perhaps the most important question of many potential customers is whether such vehicles work properly and as expected in the real world. The answer to that is that there are an infinite number of different operating scenarios and crucial to getting a specification right for the customer is first understanding their scenario thoroughly.
A further essential aspect of optimising the efficiency and longevity of the cooling system is to specify efficient insulation. At CoolKit we have gone to great lengths to optimise the effectiveness of our insulated hygienic lining and won a number of Type Approvals to the ATP Class A and C Standards to reassure our customers of that.
Our collaborations with Stage One vehicle manufacturers continues. Building on our earlier collaboration with Renault, we will soon be taking delivery of our first all-new Renault Master ZE –one of the first full-size pure electric vans to market. Converting this for effective temperature controlled operation will present new challenges, but overcoming them will be a major step towards our goal of being able to produce a full range of electrically powered conversions to suit vehicles in all segments of the LCV market and especially that eternally dominant segment.