Schenker Åkeri, one of the largest haulage companies in Sweden, is making a decisive shift toward electric vehicles. As the initial phase of this green transition, the company is focusing on converting 150 of its light transport vehicles, commonly known as vans, into electric powerhouses.
To kickstart its transition to electrified last-mile deliveries, Schenker Åkeri has recently introduced 32 Mercedes eSprinter vehicles into its extensive fleet.
With a fleet of over 1,000 vehicles and around 1,100 employees, the head of innovation and purchasing at Schenker Åkeri, Daniel Vahlberg, expresses Schenker Åkeri’s commitment to this electrification endeavour.
“We have, in all probability, bought our last diesel-powered van. We are investing heavily in fully electrifying city distribution,” Vahlberg said.
One remarkable aspect of this transition is the simplicity of the company’s drivers. The electric eSprinters maintain the same dimensions. All buttons and controls are positioned in familiar locations, mirroring their diesel counterparts.
To further optimise the transition, the staff has been trained to drive more efficiently, utilising brake force recovery techniques.
“It is so quiet and peaceful to drive. You slide forward, and you can drive extremely slowly when needed. In addition, all exhaust and diesel smells are gone,” said Carina Bard, an employee at Schenker Åkeri in Stockholm.
The first-generation eSprinter, which Schenker Åkeri has recently incorporated into its operations, offers a range of approximately 15 miles. This range aligns perfectly with the company’s delivery routes, where urban deliveries typically cover less than 10 miles per day.
“We have analysed all our traffic with parcel vans, and none of these need a longer range than that. We expect to be fully electrified within a few years,” said Vahlberg.
Battery Replacement Programme for Efficient Delivery Vans
In order to reduce downtime caused by charging and improve the efficiency of its delivery vans, automobile manufacturer Honda is teaming up with Japan’s top courier company, Yamato Transport, to kickstart a battery replacement testing programme next month.
This initiative centres around Honda’s innovative MEV-Van concept, which is purpose-built to accommodate easily replaceable battery modules. These battery modules are strategically positioned beneath the cabin floor and are easily accessible through hatches.
This design is said to be particularly advantageous for urban-based courier companies, as many struggle with limited access to charging infrastructure and can’t afford to park their vehicles for extended charging periods.
One of the key benefits, according to Honda, is that changing batteries and recharging during off-peak hours can help reduce the load on the electricity grid, resulting in a significant reduction in overall operating costs due to more affordable electricity tariffs.
As of now, it remains uncertain whether the MEV-Van matches the 210 km range of the standard N-Van e or if the replaceable batteries have any impact on the range. However, Honda’s engineers believe real-world testing with Yamato Transport will provide crucial insights into the durability, range, performance, and charging times of the replaceable batteries.
Honda has already experimented with similar battery-swapping tech in its motorcycle business and recently launched the Honda EN1 scooter in Indonesia, featuring replaceable battery packs.
While Honda hasn’t yet committed to using battery swapping for passenger cars, the Chinese automaker NIO has already conducted large-scale tests with production vehicles. Earlier this year, NIO reported 906,056 battery swaps at its 13,629 charging stations over a 17-day period, with the entire process taking just three minutes.
Unlike Honda, NIO believes that battery replacements are better suited for those travelling longer distances, with their Swap Stations primarily located near highways rather than in city centres.
Stellantis Introduces 12 Upgraded Electric Van Models
In October, multinational automotive manufacturer Stellantis introduced a significant upgrade to its electric transport vehicle lineup, featuring 12 models from Citroën, Fiat, Opel, and Peugeot.
The updated van models include the Citroën Berlingo Van, Citroën Jumpy, Citroën Jumper, Fiat Ducato, Fiat Doblo, Fiat Scudo, Opel Combo, Opel Vivaro, Opel Movano, as well as Peugeot E-Partner, Peugeot E-Expert, and Peugeot E-Boxer.
This new lineup boasts improved powertrains, enhanced safety features, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and connected services.
Luca Marengo, global head of product for Stellantis commercial vehicles, underscores the customer-centric approach to the renewal of their van range, saying that there is no compromise in terms of range, capacity, safety, and connectivity.
Among the new features, these second-generation electric vans offer impressive ranges, with the smaller class capable of covering up to 330 kilometres on a single charge. In the mid-sized class, Stellantis offers battery options of either 50 or 75 kWh, delivering ranges of up to 350 kilometres.
For greater range, Stellantis offers a 110 kWh battery for the largest vans, granting them a substantial 420-kilometre range. These vehicles can also be rapidly charged at rates of up to 150 kW, enabling an 80 percent charge in less than an hour.
The manufacturer also introduces a regenerative braking system that is adjustable through paddle shifters, taking into account the vehicle’s weight and load to maximise energy recovery. In addition, a heat pump is now available to enhance efficiency during the winter months.
Expanding Access to Fast Charging Stations in Sweden
In the charging sector, Sweden continues to advance its efforts in creating a faster and more accessible network of electric charging stations. However, there are still areas with limited access to these vital resources.
“In recent years, public charging has become increasingly frequent across the country,” said Hanna Eklöf, head of climate issues investigation at the Swedish Transport Administration.
“Despite that, there are still “white stretches” along the major roads that lack fast chargers. A network of fast charging stations makes it possible for more people to drive on electricity throughout the country.”
Addressing this issue, the Swedish Transport Administration is taking a proactive step by offering support for the construction of 30 new fast charging stations at designated locations, primarily in the northernmost counties.
This initiative comes with an approximate total support of SEK 100 million, where each charging station will receive substantial investment support for its construction. To further facilitate the process and reduce operational costs, the Swedish Transport Administration has relaxed its previous requirements.
Initially, charging stations had to deliver a consistent 150 kW of power around the clock. However, this requirement has been modified to 150 kW for three hours and the option to include a battery storage system that also qualifies for the subsidy.
“The battery storage can be built into the charging station or stand next to it. They are charged with low power, and thanks to the battery storage, the owner can connect the charging station to the mains with lower power and thus lower his operating costs,” said Eklöf.
“We believe that reduced operating costs will lead to greater interest in setting up charging stations on the routes that remain to be covered.”
The Swedish Transport Administration’s investment support programme for charging stations has been in effect for several years, resulting in 51 supported stations currently in operation. An additional 30 stations are slated to begin operation this year or the next.