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Tanfield Lands First Contracts for Edison Electric Van

The Edison.

Tanfield has officially launched its Edison electric van and has secured its first contracts for initial orders of the Edison with Sainsbury’s, TNT, CEVA Logistics and Scottish & Southern Energy.

J Sainsbury Plc, a leading UK retailer, has ordered an initial eight Edison electric vans for its Sainsbury’s Online home shopping delivery fleet. Sainsbury’s aims to switch 20% of its urban delivery fleet to electric vehicles by September 2008 and its entire urban home shopping fleet by 2010.

The order follows a year-long trial by Sainsbury’s of the Faraday zero emission electric vehicle, a larger van based on a different chassis and also produced by Tanfield’s trading division, Smith Electric Vehicles. Sainsbury’s Online deployed the Faraday in home shopping delivery applications in Central London.

The Edison electric van utilizes a Ford Transit Body shell, housing Tanfield’s electric vehicle technology and an Enova 90 kW electric drive. (Earlier post.) The Edison has a restricted top speed of 50 mph and a range of up to 150 miles on one battery charge, while still providing up to 1,500kg of payload. It is the only zero emission vehicle with a GVW of under 3.5t to offer these performance capabilities.

Tanfield has signed a supply agreement with Ford that will see Smith Electric Vehicles convert an initial 100 Ford Transit Body shells to battery-powered Edison vans.

Tanfield has received further confirmed orders for Edison from parcel and logistics companies TNT Express and CEVA Logistics (formerly TNT Logistics), who have both already deployed Tanfield’s Newton 7.5t electric vehicle.

Scottish & Southern Energy, one of the UK’s largest energy companies, has also ordered the Edison for use in its fleet of 6,000 commercial vehicles.



does make you wonder why Ford themselves are not manufacturing
a similar product .
Although it does not mention it in the post , these vans are
being fitted with the Zebra battery , which it seems to be fast becoming
the way to go for EV manufacturers here in europe .


God news. Perhaps even of historical importance. Tanfield/Smith is probably the first company ever to sell a 100% electric van that is approved for highway driving and is not some sort of prototype. This is real and it sells without a subsidy.

It is also very interesting that they use a Sodium Nickel Chloride (Zebra) battery rather than a lithium battery. Such a battery is also used in the Think minicar (also highway capable) that will go on sale later this year in Norway. I never thought these batteries would be used because of their high operating temperature. The key advantage again appears to be the low price of these batteries.


there are also highway capable Fiat based BEV,s being manufactured
here in italy using the Zebra cell , but Fiat don´t like to talk about them
in fact they will not let the companies who are screwing them together
advertise at all , not even a website !

John Latusek

I see that Sainsbury's (the UK supermarket group), as well as taking their first few Edison vans, have committed to replacing their entire urban home delivery fleet with battery powered vehicles within less than 3 years. The majority of trials prior to now, by Sainsbury's and others, have been within London, where special cost benefits apply (eg, free parking for zero-emission vehicles, and exemption from congestion charges). Sainsbury's have presumably concluded that electric vehicles are commercially viable nationwide - even in areas where no concessions apply. I know they have been trialling the (bigger) Smith Faraday electric vehicle since July last year - and their apparently favourable conclusion will surely prompt some serious attention from other fleet owners.

I believe DHL are at the Smith stand at the CV Show tomorrow - so maybe there is further news to come.

John Latusek

"..does make you wonder why Ford themselves are not manufacturing a similar product.."
(andrichchrose, above)

My guess is that the big makers (be it Ford, Nissan, whoever) will indeed step into the market, once the likes of Smith EV have proven it has real appeal, and when there is clearly sufficient demand for big makers to participate on a scale that gives them some pricing advantage. For the moment I would guess they are happy to maintain a watching brief while these niche makers carry the burden of product development. My guess is that SmithEV probably have the field more or less to themselves for maybe 18 months or so. At present their only direct competitor is UK-based Modec EV, who have one vehicle range at present, which competes with Smith's mid-size faraday model. The Smith range now covers everything from below 3.5 tons, to 12 tons.

This is looking like a real breakthrough year for the all-electric van/truck market, with fleet purchases just starting to take over from the various single-vehicle trials.


OK so Fiat manufactures and sells one. Maybe the secrecy is an effort to avoid any bad publicity should they decide to pull the car from the market (like the EV1 for GM). Still seems strange. The Think is no secret: See www.think.no The site is in Norwegen though.


Fiat just sells the enginless bodies to the two or three companies
that are putting it all together , Fiat plays no part in the sales and
marketing of these vehicles, other than to make sure they are not
marketed . The three companies are Ecolori spa , ATEA spa and
Mes dea in switzerland , try find a website , its all very wierd!

Harvey D.

What are the main reasons why major car manufacturers spend $ billions to increase the performance of ICE vehicles by 10% and not a dollar to produce pure Electric or PHEVs.

Something is not right somewhere.....

If more cities would advantage clean vehicles like London, more electric city delivery vehicles, electric/PHEV taxis, mini-buses, private electric cars etc would hit the the streets.

One could even go further and progressively tax and/or ban (over a 10-15 year period) high pollution vehicles from city streets. This would help polluted cities like LA, Mexico, Tokyo, Calcutta, New Delhi, Beijing, Shanghai, Paris, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, etc.


Harvey, my guess is dealerships and regularly scheduled maintenance. EVs do away with probably 95% of dealership income through reliability and vastly reduced scheduled maintenance.

Harvey D.


If that's the case, let WalMart, CostCo, SamClub, Sears, Canadian Tires, etc sell EVs + replacement (or rented) batteries and progressively do away with current ICE car dealership-maintenance setup.

Rented standardized (plug-in) battery packs could become a good business proposition. People could rent the pack they require or can best afford and progress with time and/or their fortune. Battery packs from $2K to $20K could suit most requirement and pocket-book, specially if rented. Price would come dowm quickly enough with mass production and worldwide competition.


tripp ,
I think you are right , theres a piece in "who killed " where the saturn
dealer is asked what sort of maintainance the EV1 required on a regular basis
towhich he replies " we just change the tyres around and make sure the sceenwash
bottle is full " ! I suppose the dealers are not going to get fat on that sort
of business !

John Latusek


I think the rented battery pack approach is one which does deserve wider consideration. In the UK, the second biggest maker of electric vans this year will be Modec EV - and they offset the initial purchase price by selling their vans with a "Batteries Not Included" tag. Buyers will instead rent a battery pack from Modec at about £450 ($225) per month.

A battery-swap facility (a bit like the system used when trading in empty camping-gas bottles for full ones) would also do away with the near for a lengthy (or overnight) recharging stops. The driver could just swap a depleted pack for a fresh one. Though with batteries currently accounting for half the cost of the vehicle, I don't envisage drivers being too keen to hand in one pack and trusting that the replacement isn't cracked or faulty.


John: The way for battery swap would be to rent the batteries. I'd love to see the car dealership model disappear. I'm tired of the head games and lies. Give me the real price up front.


battery rental is also a way for governments , here in europe
that is, to levy some sort of tax on road use of EV´s I noticed
that Think will be renting the battery for their car ,that is if I understood
the norwiegen correctly .
In the future you will see batterys with embedded computers to
store all the information relating to status of the battery , cycles
charged, kwh in , kwh out ,etc making it nice and easy to slap some
nice big tax on it . I would also think that car companies are looking
for ways to block batterys once a certain number of cycles is achived,
making replacement a necessity, to create money for their impoverished


At $225 per month for the battery pack and assuming driving 1000 miles a month, that comes to $22.5 cents per mile. Even if the electricity were free, that would still be more per mile than one would be paying for gas even with 20 mpg and gas prices over $5.00. However, that would make more economic sense in Europe and G.B. , especially in London with all the concessions for electric.

With my Prius, I'm paying about 6 cents per mile for gas and I drive way less than 1000 miles per month, so this has a long way to go be economical.


The Norwegen Think minicar also rent its Zebra battery. The car costs USD 33.300 (NKR 199.000) and the mandatory service contract on the battery cost USD 203 a month (NKR 1218 incl. VAT). This appears to be the preferred business model for all real highway capable BEVs. The net present value of an indefinite annuity of 203*12 at 15% discont rate is USD 16240. This is about the actual price of the Think car’s 25 kWh battery. That is USD 650 per kWh. For comparison the Phonix car uses a USD 70000, 35 kWh Altair lithium battery or USD 2000 per kWh. And the KillaCycle uses a USD 12000, 7,5 kwh A123 lithium battery or USD 1600 per kWh.

Sure this Zebra battery looks like a much more successful business model than the lithium batteries at the present prices.

Harvey D. you were right about the idea for renting the battery that is what they do it. However, you are way of with a 2K estimate for the low end of a suitable BEV battery. It starts at 15K for this small Think car. The lack of suitable and affordable batteries is the most important explanation that BEV have taken a long time to develop. The second most important reason is cheap gasoline. The US complains about $3 gallon. We Europeans pay $6 gallon and we don’t complain. The conspiracy theory about EVs is pure speculation and wishful thinking.


the Fiat highway capable BEV costs about 25000 euro here
in Italy / switzerland , this price includes the price of a Zebra
battery . I think it makes the Think car look very expensive by
comparision ,they will be lucky if they sell any at all at this price
The fact that they claim that the 203 dollars a month
is a service charge is nonsense , one thing a zebra cell does not
need is service , some cars have been running here and in switzerland
for two years now and covered some 30000 kms with no loss of
performance from the battery !


Andricose they say “NKR 1218 a month for leasing/service of the battery” on the Think website. It is of cause a leasing fee but service also sounds good perhaps since consumers may worry if this battery works. I am not Norwegian but Danish and I am almost sure that the USD 33.300 includes a huge special tax on cars. In Denmark we pay 160% in taxes on new cars and the same could be true in Norway. E.g. if Fiat charges USD 10000 for a car in Denmark we pay 10000+16000 = 26000 for the car. I am sure the Think car is competitively priced in Norway. In fact they show that the $203 monthly leasing fee is about equal to what an average driver will save in annual car taxes, gasoline, and when combined with a Oslo city ring charge (EVs do not pay to enter the capital of Norway). Plus Norwegens are lucky and blessed with more oil and natural gas income per capita than any other country in the world (several times bigger than the Saudis). They are loaded and they pay very low income taxes.

Harvey D.


Beijing 2008 electric garbage trucks will use $3.3K USD battery packs. A similar but smaller $2k USD pack could be the low starting point for mini city EVs with limited autonomy.

Larger higher performance EVs with more autonomy would use the larger $20k USD pack.

Dont forget that batteries price varies considerably with the technology used and the manufacturing country. Secondly, the price will drop quickly with mass production and worldwide competition.

For example, I paid $59 for second (850 mili-Amps) Li-Ion customized camera battery 4 years ago but bought 2 replacement (superior 1250 mili-Amps each) for $5.75 each last month. That is a 10X (+) price drop in 4 years only. One of the main difference was that the originals were made in Japan and the latest replacement were made in China. The 50% (verified with 250+ photos vs 125 with the original batteries) increase in energy storage was free. If you consider the extra energy storage capacity, the price drop was over 15X.

If you apply the same historical data to automotive Li-Ion battery packs, you can expect 10X to 15X price drops in comparable time frame. The very high price currently paid for first generation EV automotive battery packs will drop rapidly once the Chinese factories start rolling.


The most effective way a company the size of ford has to get into ev is to buy the tiny company and absorb all its ip and such. That is vastly cheaper and there is little risk involved...


they tried that with "Think" that cost them a cool $200 million
to stop it hitting the streets for 10 years


Found an old story at GCC about DaimlerChrysler Confirms Launch of smart EV http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/07/daimlerchrysler.html#more. Very interestingly they also outfit their smart fortwo minicar with the Zebra Sodium Nickel Chloride battery. They are leasing the hole system car + battery for US$682 a month for trial customers of their prototype car. This is very expensive assuming an indefinite annuity at 15% discount rate it translates to a net present value of (682*12)/0,15= USD 54560. The comparable price of the Think car is 33.300 +16240 = 49540. As previously mentioned that price probably include a 15000 Norwegen car tax so the out of factory cost for the Smart car is 49540 – 15000 = USD 34540. I do not think the Daimler Chrysler price include any car tax of importance so the Think is much cheaper than the Daimler Chrysler offer.

You know, had Think or Daimler Chrysler used lithium batteries we would need to add at least $15000 on top of the price of these cars. In that case the lease for the Think cars battery would be $400 which is about $200 short per month of being competitively priced in Norway. It may work in London though because EVs is excepted for extremely high fees for parking and entrance to the London city ring.

Still the US automakers need to “get of their buts” as Arnold told them recently. Maybe they are not impressed about what Arnold tells them but I am sure that today’s news this morning at BBC that Toyota has sold more cars than GM in the first quarter of 2007 is going to wake them up big time spilling coffee all over while reading the headline: Toyota is now the world’s biggest car producer second to none. When Toyota start selling their next generating Pirus with lithium battery which is supposed to cost 50% of their current NiMh battery pack price I predict the next big shock wave is going to be the exploding sales figures for this Pirus. Good luck Detroit you will need it!

Harvey I share you hope that battery prices will drop importantly as they start to get into volume production. The Beijing 2008 electric garbage trucks story I saw here at GCC and I don’t believe it for a minute. It is a media trick to promote China at the Olympics. Battery packs are globally priced like crude oil. If there is a difference in price at the consumer level it is due mostly to taxes. Prices are always set foremost at how much you can get for it and secondly at how much the cost to produce. China has a 10 to 30% cost advantage for the time being. However, time will erase that when the currency is adjusted and their salaries increases.


Big organisations so far making moves to switch to electric....

French postal service, Sainsburys....

Who's next?


200 million is cheap compared to what they pay to do thier own work. The think just likely got gobbld for ip.

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