The energy crisis of today has been in the headlines for more than a decade now. Governments, NGOs, International Organizations and Institutions all are throwing endless amounts of subsidies at any vehicle with an alternative-fuel power-train. Manufacturers have also taken the route of introducing fully electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids in passenger cars, however recently, a huge sector of automotive sales had been deprived of this technology; Medium and Heavy-Duty commercial vehicles (Trucks and Buses) account for 23% of all automotive greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore it makes sense to reduce emissions in this sector of transportation. With the recent introduction of Tesla’s Semi Truck and the industry’s growing awareness, it seems the concept is about to turn into a reality that may revolutionize the transport of tomorrow.
Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, during their Semi-Truck showcase, made electrifying commercial vehicles sound like a good idea. However, there are several things to be considered when switching to a power-train that is fundamentally different from what consumers and organizations worldwide have come to expect.
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of Electric Commercial Vehicles.
- No petrol or diesel combustion is required to make the car run.
- Commercial EVs cost a lot less to run than their conventionally powered siblings.
- No need for regular maintenance (Oil Changes etc.) due to the complete lack of an engine.
- More reliable than vehicles with an engine, as complex mechanical assemblies (Transmissions, Engine Belts etc.) are not present.
- Zero local emissions as there is no combustion of fuel.
- Silent electric motors make very little noise, especially when compared to noisy diesel that buses and trucks often have.
- The instant torque of electric motors is particularly helpful while carrying heavy cargo in a commercial vehicle.
- The price range is a huge limiting factor.
- Recharging takes several hours, compared to a few minutes to fuel a conventionally powered vehicle.
- Pakistan’s charging infrastructure is still in its infancy. Although Dewan Motors has plans to expand the network.
- Such vehicles are not suitable for cities facing power shortage.
Do they have a Place in Pakistan?
No, the country is at the very least 30-35 years from accepting the concept of a commercial EV. In most people’s minds, Pakistan is struggling to produce electric power for itself; with that mindset, it is tough to educate the general public, who are already skeptic about the prospects of electric vehicles. Electric vehicles, however, can now be imported in Pakistan and import duties are levied by MSRP as dictated by PCT 8070.9020 of Pakistan Customs Tariff 2016-2017. Electric Vehicles attract a 50% Import Duty, 17%, Sales Tax 5% Income Tax and 1% Additional Customs duty under the “Normal Regime.” This does make them more expensive than the cars with small engines that are imported under the “Special Regime.”
With that being said, the self-import of two particular commercial EVs from Japan is not out of the question. As you are about to find out, under any circumstances like ride sharing (Uber and Careem), commercial EVs can make a lot of sense. So without any further ado lets take a look at the cars I will be featuring today.
2013-2015 Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV:
- Range: 100 km or 155 km
- Power: 41 HP
- Torque: 196 Nm
- Efficiency: 0.11 kWh/km
- Price: PKR 1 075 000 – 15 000 000
The Minicab MiEV is the same size and shape as the 660cc Minicab imported here in Pakistan and shares its power-train and battery configurations with the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. It comes with 10.5 kWh and 16.0 kWh lithium-ion batteries which provide a range of 100 km and 155 km, respectively. The smaller lithium-ion battery needs 4.5 hours to charge fully from a 220V power point and the larger battery takes 7 hours. The longer-range model takes seven hours to charge. For the sake of this review, lets compare it with 660cc cars of the same category like Suzuki Every, Nissan Clipper, Daihatsu Atari and of course its sibling, the petrol version of the Mitsubishi Minicab. Firstly it offers a much better driving experience with instant electric torque which is a blessing when carrying cargo and people, especially when compared to cars with 660cc engines which can feel very under-powered. The driving experience is also further enhanced by it being almost completely silent by being an electric car. Thirdly, the running costs are almost trivial compared to its rivals (we will evaluate this later). On the downside, its range at 100km for the base model is very limiting for commercial use. If you forget to charge one day or there is a power outage, you may not be able to go for work the next day! Battery degradation over time may also be a concern as EV batteries have a finite lifespan and tend to lose their capacity over time. A Model Year 2013 Auction Grade “4” 10.5 kWh Minicab MiEV with 25000 km on the odometer can be had for under 11 lacs. That price shoots to over 14 lacs for a simila model with the bigger battery and better range.
Let’s consider a scenario in which 30 000 Km are being driven yearly by Uber or Careem. The cost of fuel is calculated in two instances, in the first instance a Suzuki Every is used and in the second the same is done for a Minicab MiEV.
Fuel Cost Per Year: Suzuki Every
Fuel Economy (As Stated in PakWheels Review): 14 km/l
Price of Petrol as of 9th April 2018: ~ PKR 85/liter
Cost Driving 30 000 Km Yearly
= PKR (85/14) * 30 000
= PKR 182 000
Fuel Cost Per Year: Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV
Rated Efficiency (NEDC): 0.11 kWh/km
K-Electric Billing Slabs:
- 1-100 units = Rs. 5.79 per unit
- 101-200 units = Rs. 8.11 per unit
- 201-300 units = Rs. 10.20 per unit
- 301-700 units = Rs. 16.00 per unit
- Above 700 units = Rs. 18.00 per unit
Driving 30 000 km per Year = Driving 2500 Km per Month
= 275 Units/Month
Cost Per Month:
= PKR 100*5.79 + 100*8.11 + 75*10.20
= PKR 2155
Cost Per Year:
= PKR 2155*12
= PKR 25 860
It is made clear through these calculations that the Minicab will save on upwards of PKR 150 000 when driven in the aforementioned scenario, which may apply to many Uber Partners and Careem Captains. These savings are impressive even without taking into account the very frequent oil changes and maintenance sessions required by a car with an engine. So I think I have made my point: EVs are not only a thing of the future but a practical proposition even today.
2015-2018 Nissan e-NV200 :
- Range: 230 Km
- Power: 107 HP
- Torque: 255 Nm
- Efficiency: 0.13 kWh/km
- Price: PKR 2 600 000 – 3 000 000
The e-NV200 is Nissan’s way of modernizing its fleet of commercial vehicles. The e-NV200 shares a platform with the Nissan Leaf, one of the most successful electric cars of all time. The e-NV200 is offered with a 30 kWh battery and has a range of 230 km, which is slightly less than the leaf due to added weight. It feels like a leaf in its driving dynamics as well, which means its incredibly comfortable, responsive and very quiet. This is also a very spacious vehicle, it seats 7 People in comfort. Fuel Efficiency and running costs are very low as well. In my opinion, this car has no competition. The only comparison I can come up with is with a Toyota Prius Alpha, both can seat 7 comfortably, both offer great reliability and low running costs but the Nissan, on account of being an electric car edges it out in this regard. Unlike the Prius Alpha however, longer trips are almost out of the question with a car like this. In addition to being used commercially as a van for school pick and drop etc., a large family who typically travels short distances and wants something efficient, roomy and accommodating may find it very appealing. A model year 2015 driven 25000 km with an auction grade “4” base model can be had for under 26 lacs.
Even though EVs are now more compelling than ever, their sales are almost laughable compared to cars with internal combustion engine of today. This is thanks to a wave of new technologies that have kept the engine relevant in a world where governments and institutions are trying their best to promote EVs. In my next article, I will be talking about some these technologies and see how much of an impact they have on transforming the modern car into a smart and efficient appliance laden with technology.
Stay tuned to PakWheels.com