Electric Utility Vehicles – Seven‐step method

As much as it is exciting to be in the market for a utility vehicle, it can also be overwhelming. Here’s how you should think about whether an electric vehicle is right for you, says Dave French, sales manager at Reesink e-Vehicles.

When it comes to choosing or moving to electric, many people still have concerns about cost, choice and charging, but those barriers are falling fast and Reesink e-Vehicles hopes to speed things along by providing a simple and straightforward seven-step method to navigate this brand-new world of electric utility vehicles, and allow you to make an informed and educated purchase, saving on headaches (and pounds) down the road.

What are you looking for? Be honest

Electric utility vehicles can be nippy, fun to drive, require little maintenance and produce no emissions, so are a major contributor to reducing climate change. But, even if you’re sure you want one, there are quite a few to choose from. That’s why it’s important to understand what you’re looking for.

1. Battery type

The type of battery used is one of the most important things to consider when purchasing an electric utility vehicle. Two of the most popular ones on the market are lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries – the first being part of one of the latest technology offerings, whilst the former has been around since the mid-1800s.

Lithium-ion batteries are not only superior in terms of reliability and efficiency (95 percent compared to 75 percent of lead-acid) but are also safer to use: they release no emissions and feature control systems that protect the battery from improper use and warn of malfunctions automatically for added peace of mind.

The Sirius 4 people carrier has a canopy option

Although more expensive upfront, their higher lifecycle numbers mean a reduced replacement frequency, thus lasting longer and ultimately making them the more cost-effective option of the two in the long run.

The benefits also more than make up for it: they charge faster, are more durable and able to withstand harsher environments, allow quick and partial charging without getting damaged, are smaller and lighter, lose power much more slowly during discharge, waste less energy and require no maintenance, which saves on additional costs and time.

Not to mention the environmental advantages such as releasing no emissions or leaks whilst being charged, no expense of topping up with deionised water, or toxic chemicals being released in their manufacturing and recycling process.

2. Open, canopy or cab

What’s the purpose of the vehicle? If it’s going to be used primarily as a people carrier, then keeping the team, guests and customers covered from the elements will take priority.

In which case, the canopy/screen option will keep passengers cool, allow for air flow and provide shade/shelter from rain and excessive sun.

If the vehicle’s going to be in use all day, then cabbed is your best bet, further protecting from rain and wind during the winter months. There’s even the choice of climate control in some models for the ultimate comfort, although here in the UK, a heater is probably the preferred choice for a superior, cosy ride. With so much to do, the last thing you need is to battle the elements.

3. Payload and towing capabilities

Will your electric utility vehicle need to move large amounts of materials or many passengers at a time? If so, payload and towing capability will be a key consideration to avoid straining the vehicle and ending up having to repair it – or worse, replace it with a different machine, incurring additional costs.

Not only is that money thrown down the drain, but also an ironic waste for someone looking to become more sustainable and eco-friendlier by choosing an electric option in the first place. Something that could easily be avoided by doing your research beforehand.

Grounds managers, whether in a landscaping environment or on a campus or school grounds, often rely on utility vehicles to carry workers and materials for project work. This requires a robust vehicle that won’t slow down or strain under heavier weights, so check the payloads and towing capacities on the available options and make an informed choice.

4. Range

A great concern for most electric vehicle newcomers is the thought of running out of battery in the middle of a job or somewhere without a nearby option to recharge the vehicle. This so-called ‘range anxiety’ phenomenon, which we covered a couple of issues ago, is well-known in the world of electric vehicles and has been around since the beginning, with efforts being made by brands and manufacturers to eliminate it for good.

This is a worry you don’t need to have – electric vehicles’ ranges have exponentially increased since their conception to the point where they are able to fulfil most of the work required of them. However, there are differences in range dependent on the vehicle, and these should be considered depending on your needs.

The majority of operations carried out on enclosed sites require far less range than you might think. And, with even the smallest batteries available covering 20-30 miles, the ability to opportunistically part-charge the lithium options, range should not be a point of considerable concern. The bigger models, carrying 10Kw batteries, will offer 60-70 miles with ease. And, let’s face it, with on-board charging across the entire range, how far will it be to the nearest three pin plug socket?

The Capella Work Machine can take two passengers at a time and has an electric lift rear cargo box with an impressive 670kg carry capacity

5. Speed

Speed is a factor to take into account when choosing your electric utility vehicle. It’s important to note that the operation the vehicle it is being used for will, more often than not, require the vehicle to travel at low speed for most of the time.

Electric utility vehicles can travel up to 25mph, but the likelihood is that customers will, in the main, use them at speeds far lower than that – around 7mph – because the vehicle will be used in spaces where people will be circulating and there are obstacles and people to navigate, thus keeping everyone safe and not interfering with the landscape.

Reducing the speed also helps conserve energy and allows the battery to last even longer, preserves the life of the vehicle and makes users and those around them safer.

6. Accessibility

Most businesses will be operating their utility vehicles in private property away from the hustle and bustle and therefore won’t require specific licensing or specifications. You will be able to drive them inside your property limits straightaway, without any restrictions.

But, if your business requires you to take your utility vehicles onto the road, they can be registered accordingly and set up to fulfil the required regulations.

With an on-board charger and 60-70 miles at your disposal each day, it will be hard to ever run out of battery Right: Dave French, sales manager at Reesink e-Vehicles

7. Cost

Finally, the biggest and possibly most important consideration to have when choosing an electric utility vehicle is, of course, the price.

Different models come at different price points, depending on their specifications, and manufacturers have come a long way to ensure these values are now more in line with their diesel and petrol counterparts, something that didn’t happen when electric vehicles first arrived on the market.

And, as the market develops and material costs drop (especially when it comes to battery costs), so will the overall price until electric vehicles become just as or more affordable than internal combustion engine vehicles. That said, we aren’t all looking to utilise electric vehicle to save money. The agenda is far greater than that.

Additionally, you still have many attractive finance options to choose from. And, due to high demand and the global commitment to gradually shift to electric, there’s been an effort to incentivise businesses to make the change through government schemes, tax incentives and other types of discounts for EV fleet owners.

Also, it’s important to note that, despite having a higher upfront cost, the total cost of ownership of electric vehicles is considerably less than the diesel or petrol counterpart and are thus the smarter financial option.

Reesink e-Vehicles brings to the UK a comprehensive and extensive range of battery-powered golf buggies, passenger buggies, and commercial and utility vehicles from STAR EV. For further information on making the step into battery-powered machinery for your venue, contact Reesink online, by phone on 01480 226800 or www.reesink-evehicles.co.uk

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