LEVC (London Electric Vehicle Company) has started production of its new electric van, VN5. The new model is designed, engineered and manufactured at LEVC’s award-winning production plant in Ansty, Coventry, which the company describes as the UK’s only dedicated electric vehicle factory.
The VN5 is the company’s first electric van model. This is an milestone for LEVC, as the company expands its model range with the launch of a second product. As with ‘TX’ for taxi, the same technical and functional nomenclature strategy has been followed. VN is chosen for van and ‘5’ to represent the volume of the cargo area, 5m³. The VN5 also shares the LEVC’s flexible production line with TX.
VN5 targets the growing ‘one-tonne’ van sector and LEVC expects its new electric van to account for around 70 per cent of production volume by 2022. First vehicles will be delivered to UK customers before the end of the year and a LHD variant will join production in March 2021.
Joerg Hofmann, CEO of LEVC, commented: “Today is an historic moment for our iconic company as we launch a second product line and continue our growth strategy to become a leading commercial vehicle manufacturer. VN5 sets new green mobility standards in the industry and establishes a new and highly desirable electric van segment.”
The VN5 project also benefited from government funding through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) which has supported LEVC in the design, development and testing of the new VN5 electric van, including a robust 32-month prototype testing programme.
Business and Industry Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said: “In recent years, the London Electric Vehicle Company has proven itself to be a pioneer in developing electrified transport in the UK. Now, with government support, the company is further cementing its reputation with the production of new electric vans in the UK’s only factory dedicated entirely to electric vehicle production.
“This is a real boost for manufacturing in the West Midlands and for delivery companies looking to improve their green footprint, driving us towards a future of greener travel both at home and abroad.”
The Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, during a recent visit to LEVC’s Ansty headquarters commented: “Electrification of the automotive industry will be critical to the West Midlands’ economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and I am delighted that LEVC is pressing ahead with its exciting plans for the VN5 and continuing to commit to Coventry and the West Midlands.”
LEVC says its manufacturing facility is a fully digitalised smart 4.0 factory which means all business systems and processes are interlinked and provide live, cloud-based data. The facility also boasts impressive green credentials thanks to built-in rainwater harvesting and solar panel systems designed to further reduce LEVC’s carbon footprint.
Both TX and VN5 start their journey in the bodystructure area of the factory as over 400 individual pieces of aluminium. This ‘clean air’ environment houses 5 hot cure robots that apply bonding adhesive to the aluminium and 4 hot cure ovens that bake the body structures for 185 degrees for 55-60 minutes. This technology creates a body which is 3-4 times stiffer than a welded body.
TX and VN5 share a range-extended electric powertrain. The marriage of the powertrain to the body is one of the most crucial elements of production and is performed by 4 operatives, all trained to handle the 31kWh High Voltage (HV) battery and other HV architecture.
Once VN5 has completed production, the vehicle undergoes a series of quality checks and tests to ensure that it is fit for the end user. During the course of production, a single VN5 will undergo 350 quality checks and 1 in every 10 vehicles undergoes a full audit and inspection by a team of experts. Each audit can take up to two and a half hours and includes a full road test, squeak and rattle track assessment, monsoon (water) test and repeated static cosmetic inspections.
New VN5 electric van
Based on the same architecture and proven eCity technology as LEVC’s TX electric taxi, VN5 can achieve a pure EV range of over 60 miles (98 km) and a total flexible range of over 300 miles (489 km). In addition, VN5 utilises the same strong, lightweight bonded aluminium monocoque & SMC construction – which LEVC says is designed to last twice as long as the competition – and has a class-leading turning circle of just 10.1m for unrivalled mobility in busy city environments.
With up to 5.5m3 cargo capacity, VN5 easily accommodates two Euro sized pallets, and offers a gross payload of up to 830kg. It has been built with a large side-loading door (enabling a pallet to be side-loaded) and a 60/40 split door at the rear to make loading and unloading easy for the driver.
VN5 is sold through LEVC’s international dealer network, with more than 50 locations in the UK alone by the end of this year, ensuring that customers are never further than a 45-minute drive time to an authorised LEVC service point. Across Continental Europe, more than 30 sales and service partners will be in place by the end of this year.