Gnewt – the name is an acronym for Green NEW Transport – was launched in 2009 and utilises a fleet of electric cargocycles and minivans to provide deliveries and collections across Central London.
Supplied by Dealer S & B Commercials, Gnewt Cargo’s Vito E-CELLs are the subject of CharterWay contract hire agreements with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, for which the operator receives funding support via the government’s Plug-in Van Grant. Two charging points by Charging Solutions, part of Chargemaster plc, the UK’s leading provider of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, have been installed at the company’s base in the City.
The Vito E-CELL is the world’s first battery-powered light commercial vehicle to be built on line at a mainstream production facility. An 82 hp (60 kW) electric motor drives the front wheels, so the space beneath the load floor can be used to store the lithium-ion batteries without impinging on the passenger or cargo areas.
The E-CELL also employs a regenerative system, which captures the energy that would otherwise be lost in braking. As well as increasing range, this is used to power the heating and ventilation system and standard-fit heated seats, making the vehicle suitable for use on the coldest of days.
Mercedes claims that the E-CELL version offers similar cargo carrying capacities to standard models and will cover an average of 80 miles between recharges – to maximise operating range top speed is electronically limited to 56 mph. A completely empty battery can be recharged from a 380/400 volt input in a maximum of six hours.
‘The Mercedes-Benz is a genuinely practical proposition with a very respectable range, while the feedback from those at the wheel has been brilliant too. Jose Britto drives our first E-CELL and he loves it for its comfort and high specification – it’s a proper van, and there’s nothing bigger when it comes to fully electric drivelines,’ commented Gnewt Cargo’s co-founder, Sam Clarke.