The Commercial Vehicles division of Volkswagen recently took a step toward innovating delivery vehicles with the e-Co-Motion concept van. This all-electric vehicle was introduced a few days ago at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. Representatives from Volkswagen focused on the vehicle’s modular battery design and accessible cockpit during the presentation. The e-Co-Motion is not yet slated for production but Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will use the concept as a template for future delivery vehicles. Parcel companies around the world concerned about environmental impacts and fuel costs would no doubt flock to this design in the future.
The e-Co-Motion achieves a continuous output of 50 kW with a maximum output of 85 kW. The vehicle’s single-gear transmission and electric controls are stationed on the rear axle. This bundling on the rear axle allows the driver to achieve maximum turn capacity using a streamlined front axle. Volkswagen estimates that the e-Co-Motion has a turning circle of just under 27 feet, a substantial feat considering the vehicle’s size and turning circles for competing models. This focus on maneuverability, power and balanced weight would make the e-Co-Motion competitive with existing vans.
Engineers at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles dabbled with a modular battery system in the e-Co-Motion. The default battery pack is a 20 kWh lithium-ion battery that provides enough power for 62 miles per charge. Customers can request 30 kWh battery packs that power vans for up to 93 miles per charge. A 40 kWh battery pack is also available for customers interested in per-charge ranges up to 124 miles. Volkswagen designed a lightweight cradle that offsets the battery’s weight while allowing easy installation. This modular approach to battery installation allows Volkswagen to meet the needs of myriad consumers using the same vehicle design.
The interior of the e-Co-Motion is aimed squarely at delivery drivers who need adjustable workspaces. A walk-in passenger door allows a driver to easily navigate from the steering wheel to the customer’s front door. Volkswagen designed the driver’s seat to conform to safety standards while ensuring comfort and easy mobility. The e-Co-Motion features a folding passenger seat that is useful on high-volume routes where delivery assistants are assigned. An eight-inch color instrument panel provides a vivid display of battery power, mileage and other metrics. Volkswagen also included a movable center console that includes power outlets, drink holders and storage spaces.
The parcel delivery industry in the United States alone represents $50 billion in annual revenue. The U.S. Postal Service might be on the decline but regional carriers as well as private firms like FedEx and UPS require new vehicles to meet customer needs. The demands of the typical delivery company could be fulfilled easily by the Volkswagen e-Co-Motion.
A plethora of short urban routes from New York City to Johannesburg to Tokyo require vehicles that won’t idle away valuable fuel. New regulations dealing with carbon emissions especially in the European Union will force firms to reconsider their fleets. Volkswagen might not bring the e-Co-Motion to market as presented but this design will no doubt be used to accommodate global customers.