There’s no doubting that Norway is the world’s leader when it comes to electric cars. With more than 50,000 electric cars now on the nation’s roads and a new car market share of more than 15 percent, electric cars are more common per capita among Norwegians than the perennial Ford F150 pickup truck is in North America.
Norway’s love affair with the electric car is part thanks to the nation’s forward-thinking attitudes towards renewable energy and pro-environmental policy decisions, but it is mainly down to the most generous electric car incentive package the world has ever seen. With new car buyers eligible for free parking and charging in Norway’s cities, zero percent sales tax and freedom to avoid traffic jams by driving unimpeded in bus lanes, electric cars are cheaper and more convenient to own in Norway than an internal combustion engine vehicle.
And now Posten Norge, Norway’s postal service, is following suit, placing an order with French automaker Renault for nearly 300 brand-new Kangoo Z.E. electric vans destined to join its postal delivery fleet in the next year. The vehicles will join more than 900 other electric vehicles on the service’s fleet — including a fleet of Ford Connect EV delivery trucks obtained by the service in 2011.
With an NEDC-homologated range of 106 miles per charge of its 24 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack (70 miles real-world use), the Kangoo Z.E. vans are ideal for use as a delivery vehicle on predictable urban routes, and in Norway are offered with an optional built-in fossil fuel heater to keep the cabin warm during the bitter winter months.
While that might sound counterintuitive, the heaters offered by Renault are extremely efficient, outputting approximately 5 kilowatts of heat to heat the cabin that doesn’t need to be provided by the van’s on-board resistive electric heating system.
That not only means that the Kangoo Z.E. vehicles keep warm when the mercury drops well below freezing for months at a time, but ensures they can continue to provide decent range even in the depth of winter. Moreover, at fuel consumptions of less than half a litre per hour of use, they are far more energy efficient than a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle — and some can even run on biofuels such as biodiesel or bioethanol.
“This represents a milestone in our environmental work. Posted Norge is one of the Nordic region’s biggest transport operators and our CO2 emissions are quite large,” said CEO of Posten Norg, Dag Mejdell. “We are now seeing the rather significant results from the measures we have implemented. The purchase of new electric cars is one of the major contributors to us meeting our environmental targets.”
“We also use environmentally friendly fuel in 200 of our larger cars and we only buy new vehicles that live up to the leading environmental standards. Our investment in environmentally friendly logistics and mail distribution extends beyond the purchase of electric cars,” he continued.
Of course, Norway isn’t the first postal service from Scandinavia to switch to electric postal vehicles. Back in the 1990s, the Finnish postal service made use of all-electric Elcat Minivans to deliver the mail in certain parts of the country.
Based on the Daihatsu HiJet from Japan, these tiny commercial vehicles featured a 72-volt on-board lead-acid battery pack which could give a useable everyday range of just under 50 miles per charge, as well as a powerful on-board liquid fuel heater to keep the driver and the cabin warm during the winter.
The vehicles used by the Finnish Postal Service came with two extra special-features designed to make life easier for drivers: the first was right-hand drive, making it easy for drivers to pull up to customers’ mailboxes and deliver the mail without getting out of the van. The second was the inclusion of a manual quick-operation window winder, allowing drivers to lower and raise the drivers’ side window quickly to avoid heat loss inside the vehicle every time a delivery was made.
Despite having a very healthy fleet of more than 50,000 electric cars on its roads, the inclusion of Posted Norg‘s new fleet of electric Renault vans will dramatically increase the number of commercial electric vehicles on the roads of Norway. Previously, only 1,000 commercial vehicles are believed to be on the nation’s roads, demonstrating that while private vehicles may have a massive market share, there’s still some way to go before commercial operators catch up.
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