Head of electric vehicles for PSA Helen Loos will drive the EV strategy, including a version of Free2Move – Connect Fleet – for plug-in fleets.
She claims telematics can help with easing the transition to electric vehicles in terms of monitoring mileage coverage and encouraging more economical driving styles.
“Range is the key factor,” she says. “They (fleets) want a guarantee the van is fit for purpose.”
Loos claims 90% of journeys vans undertake are for distances under 70 miles, which means an electric van is suitable for the job. She says Citroen is focused on developing both full-electric and self-charging hybrid technology and claims within five years 80% of the LCV line-up will include some form of electric option. Within seven years Loos asserts this will rise to 100% of the product portfolio.
But she says plug-in hybrids are not likely to come into the picture and argues that full-electric technology is better suited to vans.
Loos admits PSA has historically not had a strong focus on electric vans.
“I’ve been in the role two years – prior to this there was no EV specialist,” she points out.
She predicts the majority of electric van customers will be large corporate fleets, which suggests there may be a bias towards Peugeot over Citroen. She says large fleets must abide by corporate responsibility policies (including reducing emissions) and need to be “seen to be green”.
Loos says Electric Berlingo vans will usually be higher specification, such as Enterprise, and come with telematics systems as standard to assist with route guidance and range.
For small business customers in particular she says the retail network has a crucial role to play in marketing electric vans.
“A lot [of the process of building electric van demand] is in working with the dealer network. They don’t see so much incoming demand [for electric vans] as for diesel.”
With high staff turnover a major issue within the motor retail trade, Loos says a majorchallenge is in ensuring employees are properly trained to sell electric vans.
Citroen has built its stronghold in the small business sector of the LCV market but is increasingly focusing on larger fleets too.
In January, leasing firm Alphabet supplied 156 Berlingo and 10 Dispatch crew vans to food condiment company McCormick’s commercial fleet through a partnership with Citroen. The vehicles replace an earlier fleet of Berlingo crew vans, which had been in service since 2013. All the vehicles are being funded and supplied by Alphabet on three-year fully maintained contracts, including tyres, and sourced through Citroen dealer Robins and Day London West.
Both the Berlingo and Dispatch models are fitted with Teletrac Navman telematics systems and parking sensors. The vans also come with air conditioning.
Tracey Hoare, regional business controller south for McCormick, says: “The key benefits of the fleet for us are enhanced safety, flexibility and efficiency for our merchandising team. It will also help them with dynamic journey-planning.
“When the vehicles are fully loaded, there are no weight issues, no matter what the mix of products carried is. In addition, these vehicles are equipped with the moveable bulkhead, which gives the safety and flexibility we require.
“Finally, the fact that the standard Berlingo is equipped with Teletrac Navman’s navigation and tracker system was very attractive to us from a safety point of view and knowing where individuals are.”
Steph Brown, corporate sales manager for Alphabet, says: “Alphabet undertook a detailed whole-life cost analysis with several manufacturers and worked closely with McCormick to ensure their LCV requirements for both today and in the future were achieved.
“Citroen proved to be the most cost-efficient and was a tried-and-tested solution in the McCormick LCV fleet.”
PSA Group fleet director Martin Gurney says: “Repeat business is a genuine measure of customer satisfaction and it’s important to us that McCormick has chosen the Berlingo crew van again and also added the Dispatch crew van to its national fleet.”
In another repeat deal, at the end of 2017 Hackney Council in east London replaced its fleet of Citroen vans with 250 new models. It has taken delivery of 150 Berlingos, 40 Dispatch vans, 20 Relay vans and 40 Relay cage-bodied tippers, some of which are equipped with tail lifts.
All of the vans come with load area ply-lining and equipment options include beacon bars, roof racks, pipe carriers, and Chapter 8-compliant high-visibility rear chevron markings. Some of the tippers are fitted with beacons, tool boxes and tail lifts. The council took the decision to renew its fleet with Citroen vans due to their facility to run on high-blend sustainable biofuel produced from waste.