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 plant in Ansty, Coventry—the UK’s only dedicated electric vehicle factory.
VN5 is the company’s first electric van model. Based on the same architecture and proven eCity range-extending technology as LEVC’s TX electric taxi, VN5 can achieve an all-electric range of more than 60 miles (98 km) and a total flexible range of more than 300 miles (489 km). In addition, VN5 utilizes the same strong, lightweight bonded aluminum monocoque & SMC construction—designed to last twice as long as the competition—and has a class-leading turning circle of just 10.1 meters.
With up to 5.5 m3 cargo capacity, VN5 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.
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. With its distinctive design, lightweight aluminum construction and eCity technology, VN5 also now 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% 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.
The VN5 project 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 program.
LEVC’s manufacturing facility is a fully digitalized smart 4.0 factory which means all business systems and processes are interlinked and provide live, cloud-based data. The facility also features 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 body structure area of the factory as more than 400 individual pieces of aluminum. This clean air environment houses 5 hot-cure robots that apply bonding adhesive to the aluminum 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 31 kWh 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.
VN5 is sold through LEVC’s growing 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.