Modec van: Test Drive
15 October 2007
|Category:|| Large panel van|
|Prices:|| From £33,000 (estimated)|
|Key rival:|| Ford Transit |
As green issues continue to dominate every fleet's agenda, what's currently a left-field choice could become the answer to some businesses' carbon footprint worries.
Modec has already supplied zero-emissions electric vans to Tesco for its home delivery fleet, and is starting to dispatch its product to other businesses, so we thought it was time to test the firm's claim that a prospective driver's initial concerns about using a glorified milk float are dispelled after a test drive.
Its quirkiness is evident as soon as you enter the vehicle, not by conventional doors but by a single door behind the cabin, which leads into what's almost a tiny corridor with the cabin accessible to your left and the load area to your right. It's designed with multi-drop drivers in mind, say the makers, and is certainly different.
On the move the Modec reaches a limited 50mph, which is plenty for what will be employed pretty much solely in urban environments, and has a 100-mile range before you need to drag out the extension lead and plug it in next to the kettle. It charges in eight hours, but the makers say that changing the battery, which is leased from Modec, takes 20 minutes, so you can leave one charging while another is in use. However, that means leasing a second battery, and they cost £400 per month per battery for a van covering 20,000 miles a year.
Driving requires a little mental adjustment. Despite the two-tonne payload it's more akin to handling a small lorry than a Transit, with the large flat-fronted glass area and upright seating position giving it a truck-like feel. The cranial realignment continues when you go to pull away because there's no gentle application of power to pull out of a junction - just point it in the right direction and flatten the accelerator, at which point you take off in silence, bar the slight milk float-like whir. The steering is ultra light and offers up a great turning circle, though it was misaligned off-centre in our test vehicle.
On the face of it the Modec isn't a cheap option, with prices starting from £34,000 depending on how you kit out the van or drop-side truck, though there's no fuel cost to factor in bar a slightly increased electric bill - £3-4 overnight - and you'll pay no road tax or congestion charge. The firm also offers a three-year 100,000-mile warranty, and promises the batteries are good for at least eight years.
In the right circumstances, the Modec electric van will make business sense, especially if there's value in proving corporate green credentials. But it's a little crude on the inside compared with the latest panel vans, and the driving experience will take a little getting used to.