26 March 2020
When it comes to launching a viable electric or alternative fuel commercial vehicle, having the technology to deliver power, range and reliability is only part of the story.
As every operator knows, any truck or van is only as good as the body that’s on the back.
And it’s with this very issue in mind that the long-established and fast-growing Bevan Group has launched a new division – En-Veco (it’s name’s a contraction of ‘electric vehicle conversions’).
The aim of the new division is simple – bring Bevan Group’s huge experience of bodybuilding and conversions to bear on the emerging electric, hybrid and gas-powered commercial vehicle sector.
It’s obvious when you think about it. Electric vehicle manufacturers, particularly start-ups, may be experts in their own technology, but may need advice on how to optimise vehicles for operators. As En-Veco Sales Director, Roy Shelton, explains, this is where new players in the market can to turn to more experienced partners.
He said, ““Some of the newer EV manufacturers are incredibly knowledgeable about what they’re doing but may require additional support in how to best integrate their equipment with a body and its various ancillaries.
“We’re working with them, drawing on our knowledge and experience, to say if you put this here it’s a lot easier for us to build and if you put it here, it’s not going to get damaged.
“We are the interface between what the manufacturers want to do with their vehicles and what the operator actually needs it to do.”
A sure sign of how much potential Bevan Group sees in this new area, in the level of investment it’s making. En-Veco has just opened a dedicated factory facility in Wednesbury in the West Midlands.
Initially, this plant will focus on the manufacture of a fully electric Nissan e-NV200 van with high-volume Voltia body, built under license from the Slovakian company for the UK and Ireland. En-Veco expects big things of this model – a zero-emission 2.2-tonner with twice the load volume of a standard Nissan e-NV200.
But it’s looking beyond the short-term sales volumes to the even greater potential for EV conversions it believes lie ahead.
Roy explained, “We see enormous potential in this new venture and that’s why we’ve invested in this new facility. At the moment our base product is the Voltia and that’s what we’re going into mass production with, but there will be vans that come out in the next year to two years against that so we’re already looking for the next market and the next products that we can bring out. “
He added, “We hope to be getting very quickly up to around 20-25 employees and we have the capacity to go far above that. Those numbers are based just on the Voltia but as we find more products, that will increase.
“It’s difficult to say what sales volumes will be like at this stage. We’re talking to people who only want one and we’re talking to people who want us to be able to commit to putting a thousand in by the end of the year. You only need one big order to come through and it skyrockets very quickly.”
And again, Roy sees the company’s future success being based on its long, proven track record and in-depth knowledge of what operators need from a vehicle, and its understanding of electric, gas and alternative fuel technology.
He said, “With a conventional commercial vehicle, you can pretty much go to any old bodybuilder. But If it’s an electric vehicle, it needs to go to someone who knows what they’re doing.
“If you were to approach an electric vehicle conversion the way you would approach a normal bodybuild you can make very expensive mistakes. Also, when the vehicles go into build, you could have quite a few different issues with them when you start to wire them up.
“With some of the vehicles that aren’t OE there’s not really a bodybuilders’ manual either so you are kind of writing that as you go along. That’s why you need a specialist.”