Are electric parcel trucks still worth it?

The use of locally emission-free delivery vehicles for the last mile is good for the climate and good for the image. But the recent price increases for charging current are putting a spanner in the works for many operators.

When Tesla launched its first mass-produced electric car in 2013, the all-electric sedan came standard with an incredible extra: The purchase price included free use of Superchargers, the network of fast-charging stations that Tesla soon began to set up all over the world. A car in which you get the fuel for free, for the entire life of the car, had never existed before. This privilege was already over in 2016. Since then, anyone who buys a Tesla has to pay for the charge. Although this is sensationally convenient – the car automatically calculates the charge with the charging station – but electricity also costs money at Tesla.

85 cents per kilowatt hour

Charging at Tesla has recently started to cost a lot of money. According to a report by the online portal “Teslamag”, the Californian car manufacturer has increased the tariffs on its superchargers to 69 to 71 cents per kilowatt hour. This is not the first price increase this year, but at over 20 percent it is the most lavish so far. However, Tesla is not even the most expensive provider. The prices for a kilowatt hour are getting closer and closer to the magic limit of one euro. Allegro, the fourth largest operator of fast chargers in Germany, has now announced a top tariff of 85 cents per kilowatt hour – it is by no means certain that this will remain the case.

A price level of over 70 cents per kilowatt hour is likely to put a serious damper on many a business model that relies on electric delivery vehicles. Because e-vehicles are still significantly more expensive to buy than comparable vans with combustion engines. On the other hand, there have always been significantly lower operating costs – also and above all caused by a lower fuel receipt.

Here is a calculation example: An electric delivery van like the StreetScooter shown above can transport a little more than a tonne of freight and has a standard consumption of around 28 kilowatt hours per 100 kilometers. A standard VW Transporter with the smallest diesel engine gets by with around 6 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers with a comparable payload – also according to the NEDC and factory specifications.

Electricity is more expensive than diesel

Before the Ukraine war caused energy costs to explode, a kilowatt hour of electricity cost around 25 cents and a liter of diesel around 1.30 euros. This means that 100 km in a Bulli costs 7.80 euros, compared to just 7 euros in the electric StreetScooter. Currently, after the federal government’s tank discount has expired, a liter of diesel costs 2.15 euros, so a diesel VW needs fuel worth 12.90 euros for 100 km. So that the electricity costs for the StreetScooter do not exceed this mark, a kilowatt hour should cost a maximum of 46 cents. This cannot be done without a fixed purchase agreement. According to information from the tech portal “Golem”, EnBW currently offers the cheapest charging option for customers without a fixed purchase agreement at a rate of 55 cents.

Commercial operators of electric vehicles must therefore recalculate their business models in view of the sharp rise in electricity prices. However, there is still just as much potential in contract design as in route planning. Because while a liter of fuel costs more or less the same everywhere, the price for a kilowatt hour from a charging station varies considerably.

Direct current costs more

For example, the 85 cents quoted above at Allegra only apply when using the latest DC columns with a charging capacity of up to 120 kW. If the e-vehicle is prepared for this, such a high-tech charging station recharges the battery within a very short time – true to the motto “time is money”. Fleet operators where the vehicles only run during the day can use the whole night for charging and rely on significantly less powerful AC chargers where the electricity price is not so high.

Fleet operators with fixed long-term contracts, some of which set kilowatt-hour prices of 35 cents, are also cheaper. However, these contracts also have a finite term – and new customers will no longer receive these conditions in the foreseeable future.

Alternative: cargo bike

For suppliers on the last mile who want to continue delivering without emissions and want to keep operating costs low, the only option left for the time being is to consistently switch to cargo bikes. An electrically assisted cargo tricycle like the Urban Arrow Tender can only travel 50 km on one battery charge and can only tow a quarter of what a StreetScooter can carry. On the other hand, its power consumption is unrivaled at 1 to 2 kWh per 100 km.

Source: com! professional by

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