…from With no one in the potential EV market yet to really take advantage of the new opportunity, Iain Falconer, owner of Better by Miles, is hoping to bring his experience in the bespoke battery market to the table with one eye on securing deals from three prospective manufacturers and the other on a brand new factory facility built by the Welsh Government that would create eighty-five jobs in Minffordd, Wales.
Currently, Falconer owns Better by Miles, which was created just over year ago, now distributing on behalf of DFSK Loadhopper. Being of Chinese origin and a successful model in Asia with company sales already of 360,000 units, The Loadhopper is an interesting proposition for the UK market. There is a gap in the UK market for this, one of two, minivans that it is hoped fleet managers will take to in order to deliver cost-savings, both by way of initial outlay, fuel efficiency and, because of its lightweight build, cheap van insurance deals, too.
What Better by Miles can add to the electric van market is knowledge. Using all his experience, Falconer is reaching out to manufacturers to help improve the range of the batteries that already exist within their vehicles, which could be an issue for firms whose deliveries take them beyond local runs. Better by Miles can literally use computer simulation to assess a model of an electric van and, depending upon the range any potential customer is looking for and based upon the payload each drop is expected to carry can work out bespoke battery packages to ensure that vans can make it to and from their drops on one charge.
The timing for this venture is, obviously, now. There will come a time when drivers of electric vans can fill up anywhere along the route with no danger of putting the wrong fuel in (unless they get the voltage wrong), but, as there are so very few plug-in pit stops available for commercial vehicle use anywhere other than outside London, that day looks a long way off.
Should the right parties all confirm their interest, Iain Falconer predicts that the factory could be up and running by late 2012. From then, he envisages the initial deal would be to distribute 12,500 battery-powered vans, a usage which would incorporate pick-ups too, over the duration of a three year period.
If all of the other components click into place and Renault’s prediction of 10% of all vehicles on UK roads being electric-powered within the next five years also comes true, the ongoing savings on fuel and cheap van insurance could be instrumental in lifting many organisations and the UK economy out of its current predicament. We live in hope.