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Royal Mail Orders Two Electric Vehicles for Trials

The Edison.

The Royal Mail (UK) has ordered one Edison and one Newton electric vehicle from Smith Electric Vehicles, a subsidiary of the Tanfield Group, for trials in London. The Royal Mail will use the vehicles for parcel and mail distribution operations.

Edison is a sub-3.5t electric van, built using the Ford Transit shell and an Enova 90 kW electric drive. Newton is sold in 7.5t and 9t configurations, and uses a 120 kW Enova drive. Both vehicles have restricted top speeds of up to 50 mph and are capable of covering 150 miles on one battery charge.

Royal Mail has a fleet of more than 33,000 commercial delivery vehicles operating across the UK, including approximately 10,700 3.5t vans and van derivatives, plus 2,500 7.5t trucks.

To support a growing order book and increased interest in both Newton and Edison, Tanfield is installing extra electric vehicle production capacity at its assembly facility.

We are delighted to have sold our first vehicles into the Royal Mail. The adoption of the Low Emission Zone in London and expected road pricing in 10 other urban conurbations across the UK will significantly increase the addressable market for electric vehicles. To this end, we are now installing additional production capability at a much faster rate than we had previously planned.

—Darren Kell, Chief Executive of The Tanfield Group Plc

Tanfield officially launched the Edison in April, and secured contracts for initial orders of the Edison with Sainsbury’s, TNT, CEVA Logistics and Scottish & Southern Energy. (Earlier post.)

In February, Marks & Spencer, the major UK retailer, announced that it will buy a number of Newton electric delivery trucks. Marks & Spencer will use the Newton vehicles in various city center logistics operations, with a view to Smith vehicles replacing Marks & Spencer’s urban diesel fleet where pertinent. (Earlier post.)



Great firm this Tanfield. They are writing the transportation history with their successful implementation of EVs for delivery fleets. No prototypes here this is vehicles that are finished and are selling today because they focus on costs using the cheapest batteries available, molten salt.


looks like Mes Dea are becoming a bit tricky with delivery
of the Zebra !

Henrik ,
do you have any idea of the cost of the 20Kwh zebra
pack , only I have been told that its currently 18000 euro,
which seems a bit high to me , and I wonder if its just to
justify the 34000 euro for the panda here in Italy


The last price estimate I have for Zebra is $300 kWh (but I think the price is old). That is $7200 for the 23 kWh Zebra battery. This is much cheaper than lithium batteries but I expect that Zebra batteries are increasing in price right now because they contain nickel and the price of nickel has exploded by %500 the past 2 years. http://commodities.thefinancials.com/. My Zebra source is from a february 2006 document http://www.mpoweruk.com/specifications/comparisons.pdf . The Think car uses a lease for their Zebra battery indicating a consumer price of $16000. Specifically, the service contract on the battery cost USD 203 a month (NKR 1218 incl. VAT). The net present value of an indefinite annuity of 203*12 at 15% discont rate is USD 16240. This is about the actual comsumer price of the Think car’s 23 kWh battery. That is USD 650 per kWh.

To conclude, I think the factory price right now is about $10000 for a 23kWh Zebra pack.


All urban delivery vans and taxis should be replaced by hybrids or EVs over the next 10 years or so.

The problem is how do you "persuade" people to do it.

These are well suited to all high mileage stop/start driving.

If the next Prius is as good as people are suggesting, it would be a perfect taxi. They you could use the drivetrain for small vans.


The answer is in the post mahonj: with a price signal like the low emission zone in London. Make the polluter pay. Countries like Australia, US and Canada that are scared of regulation are getting left behind by forward thinking European measures that drive innovation. It doesn't have to be an impost on business if it is made revenue neutral. A tax shift from labour taxes like payroll tax to taxes on pollution is one way of doing it.

Americans rightly complain about their soft CAFE regulations but all we have in Australia is a voluntary fuel consumption target that has no hope of being met.


Great news from Smith EV, but no great surprise. They have already impressed several of the biggest fleet ownners in the UK, winning orders from Marks&Spencer, from logistics firms DHL and TNT, as well as from Ceva Logistics on behalf of Starbucks, and from the UK's biggest water company. They've also started delivering vans to the UK's second biggest supermarket chain Sainsburys' who now say they will switch their entire urban delivery fleet to electric vans within 3 years beginning now, with Smith looking well positioned to be the main supplier.

The share price of Smith's owner, the Tanfield Group, has multiplied fivefold on the UK stockmarket in under a year, and they are reportedly stepping up production at an even faster rate than expected, to meet rapidly growing demand.

I used to work for Royal Mail, who did trial several makes of electric delivery vans twenty years ago. So they already have some background knowledge which should reduce the trial period this time around.

Kuni Fukui

I heard that ZEBRA battery cost is now 550Euro/kWh.
Z5 is 21kWh. Recently they renewed P type cell with
X type cell for more stable cyclic operation.

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