Little electric numbers make their mark on tight and congested streets
DRIVE in Europe and you quickly gain an appreciation of driving on narrow roads in tight situations. After all, they built their cities to suit the horse and cart.
With access to city centres difficult at the best of times, companies are looking at alternatives to traditional trucks.
The issue is starting to have an impact in Australia, too, particularly in capital cities with congestion added into the mix.
Victorian outfit Vehicle Ecology is looking to capitalise on this demand by importing a range of electric delivery and service trucks from Italian manufacturer Alke.
The trucks come in numerous configurations for tasks such as street cleaning, garbage collection and goods deliveries.
Owner Chris McIntyre says he saw a growing need for a small electric utility vehicle and took the plunge.
“They are proving very popular and demand is gaining momentum as word spreads,’’ he says. “With city speed limits now pretty much at 40km/h, low speed, cheap to run and reliable utility vehicles such as these come into their own.’’
Four models are available in varying load configurations (even a tipper) starting from about $45,000. A cab chassis version starts at $38,000.
They are plug-in electric vehicles with regenerative braking to extend the driving range. They use either lead acid or lithium ion batteries, depending on buyer choice. Solar recharging is also available.
The company will customise trucks for large fleets.
Operational range depends on use but they will generally cover 150km or run for eight to 10 hours before recharging is needed.
The Alke XT series has two wheelbase options with cargo floors of 220mm and 270mm. Flat-bed load capacity is up to 1300kg with a towing capacity up to 4000kg.
There are rear-drive and 4WD (permanent) options, the latter featuring three differentials and double diff locks for tough off-road terrain.
Two variants, fitted with a larger capacity 26 kWh battery, can reach 140km/h and the other two will do 58kmh. The recharge cycle is eight to 12 hours.
Power goes to the wheels through direct drive, forward and reverse. Peak torque is 250Nm, equivalent to a 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine.
The steel backbone chassis supports a composite body. Comfort and convenience features include aircon, electric power steering, remote central locking, electric windows and a seven-inch digital display screen. Adjustable air suspension is standard and there are numerous options.
McIntyre claims the Alkes need virtually no maintenance and have proven reliable in service.
To simplify servicing requirements, Vehicle Ecology’s data logging tech beams operational information direct to the company.