Hot on the heels of their recent announcement of Low Emission Certification, and zero-emission (ZE) drivelines for its range of Sprinter-based minibus solutions, the team at EVM has taken their heads up from the drawing boards just long enough to tell us about the latest developments at EVM Towers
This time it comes in the shape of a whole new concept for minibus design.
Squarely targeted at the school and accessible side of the market, the CM body takes EVM outside of the normal executive market that one would be used to finding it in.
“We have enjoyed a steady growth in our presence in the School and Accessible market over the last six years with our Trend, Elegance and in particular our Cityline model,” says Peter Flynn, Sales and Marketing Director.
“Substantial successes in tendering to councils across the United Kingdom has re-focussed us on developing solutions specifically for these markets”
A new concept
The idea of a modular body is not new, but it has never gained traction in the PSV market due to the bespoke nature of the customer requirements. It does however yield some unique synergies that make it a very suitable product for mini and minibus design.
Danny McGee, MD of EVM, has had his eye on this solution for a while now: “We have been actively looking at this concept for some time. The traditional method of building minibus’s fails to embrace the unique characteristics of new and modern materials including composites.
“The body build process starts with a 3D cloud of data originating from our expanded design and development team, headed by Cosimo Facecchia, and becomes a detailed layer by layer process creating the body with a clever mix of composites including GRP, aluminium and extruded RTM.
It results in a lightweight body that is lighter than the equivalent van conversion but stronger and more efficient in every way, structurally, thermally, acoustically and logistically.”
The process is so efficient, EVM was happy to put it to the test with a tender submission before the first prototype was even built.
“We were awarded the tender with a perfect score of 100%” adds Peter Flynn, “This gives us confidence that our customers recognise the importance of sustainability and recyclability in their vehicle supply chain, while being competitive on initial and whole life vehicle cost”
The CM is available on the Sprinter 5 and 5.5 tonne chassis in capacities up to 24 seats in school bus layout and up to 22 seats with 6 wheelchairs in accessible format.
Moving to the Iveco Daily 7.2 tonne Chassis, capacity increases up to a maximum of 33 or 35 seats in school bus layout or 28 seats with up to 8 wheelchairs.
Both chassis are now available with 100% zero-emission battery-electric driveline alternatives with ranges quoted up to 200Km.
Both alternatives will have 150kW motors with 3 battery packs with a total capacity of 115kWh.
Batteries are located in the engine bay and underbody, and neatly carried between the chassis legs of the vehicle. The 150kW motor is mated directly to the rear axle giving a meaty 1250Nm of Torque from start and a max speed of 100kmh.
Range has been verified with substantial SORT testing across 100+ vehicles on the continent.
Lightweight ‘more space for less weight‘
“Our initial goal in utilising this build process was to achieve a greater capacity vehicle at the 5 tonne and 7.2 tonne vehicle categories” says Danny.
“The CM body has allowed us to increase capacity to 24 passengers on Sprinter 5 tonne and 35 passengers on Iveco 7.2 tonne, which gives us a very competitive solution for operators, schools and councils looking for maximum capacity, without the need to move to a 10 tonne + solution.”
Weight management is crucial in minibus building but never more crucial than when transferring to electric drivelines.
The additional weight of batteries eats into the priceless payload available to converters.
“Our customers need to transfer to zero emission but do not want to sacrifice capacity to achieve this” says Danny, “our only alternative is to make our conversion as light as possible and the CM body is the foundation of our path forward in this arena.
”The weight savings really begin to increase when we move to the 7.2 tonne chassis, allowing us take the capacity to a class leading 35 passengers.”
With a presence in markets across Europe, EVM has a unique perspective on where the New CM solution will fit and the ability to get to 35 seats will surely catch the eye of operators in the school transport sector the most.
The build process for the CM allows for very targeted structural integrity with key structures supported exactly where they are required but maximising the weight savings where they are not. Mounting points for ancillaries are placed exactly where they are required.
“We have the ability to build all routings for electrical, airflow and structural channels into the body design” advises Danny, “once completed at design stage, it delivers a fully prepared body with mounting for lifts etc already prepared for.”
“The CM achieves ECE R66.02 (Strength of superstructure) with ease and the ability to build the floor layer by layer gives the CM the strength to make light of M2 and M3 seat testing while providing class leading insulation for thermal and acoustic efficiencies,” he adds.
Every element of the structure of the vehicle is laser cut from a cloud of data ensuring a perfect fit, first time, every time. Every seam is pre-treated prior to body build ensuring the body is 100% corrosion proof.
All doors and access points are double sealed with stainless steel hinges ensuring class leading reliability and thermal integrity.
Thermal and acoustic efficiency
Building the panels up layer by layer creates a fully finished interior and exterior finish, in exactly the colour required by EVM’s customers.
The extruded RTM and GRP layers isolate the saloon from all exterior noises making it an almost tranquil environment for passengers. With over 121mm of insulation in the floor, and 53.5mm in the walls and roof, the saloon becomes substantially easier to heat and cool.
“Thermal efficiency is now more important than ever for us with the transition to 100% BEV” says Peter.
“Raising or lowering the saloon temperature throughout the year is an energy sink that we have to manage as tightly as possible when range is still critical to our end user, so the composite body gives is a quantum leap forward in energy efficiency, requiring less power to run heating or air conditioning”.
It is clear as the requirement for EV solutions continue to grow that every aspect of the vehicle build needs to be considered to maximise energy efficiency when in use and the CM body aims to make this one of its key USPs.
With an increased requirement to supply via tender and framework awards, EVM is quick to acknowledge that the CM looks far more attractive on paper than it does in the flesh.
“This is a solution built to win tenders” said Peter, “While the obvious USP’s of strength, thermal and acoustic efficiencies and 100% recyclability are somewhat obvious, the benefits it brings to the delivery timescales are probably not as obvious.
“The unique synergies allowed by the build process mean we can have bodies prepared and ready to fit at short notice allowing us delivery an unbeatable delivery timescale to our customers”.
Winning tenders is a points-based activity with the council or government body favouring quality, price, sustainability, delivery timescale as per their own commitments to each element.
“Having the ability to turn around the finished vehicle quickly is a game changer in a market where a blip in the chassis supply can cause months of delays. Our customers are either operators tendering for council contracts or indeed the council themselves,” adds Peter.
‘Body swapping’ and whole life cost
The term’“whole life cost’ is one we hear often. Simply put, if you buy a vehicle for £50,000 and drive it for three years and then sell it for £25,000 then the cost to the operator is £25,000 and not £50,000.
The CM body brings a new dynamic to this well understood ratio.
In the ambulance industry, the authority buys the ambulance body and leases the chassis. Why do this?
Well simply because the lifespan of the body is far beyond the lifespan of the chassis by a factor of four or four times.
So once the chassis reaches its normal end of life, the body can be removed from the chassis and transferred on to the next generation of chassis, be that Euro 6/7 or hybrid or fully electric.
At this point the customer is only paying for the lease of the new chassis and the cost of transferring the body. A substantial saving making the “whole life cost” of the vehicle substantially cheaper by a factor of four or four depending on the amount of swaps.
“On top of the savings in whole life cost, it also gives the operator a chance to commit to Euro 6 diesel today but the opportunity to transfer to fully electric in five years’ time without the additional cost of replacing the whole vehicle,” adds Danny.
“It gives our customers a transition path they can commit to and achieve in line with government requirements for zero emissions”.
The ideal solution for building the most functional vehicle is a big white box, giving perfect headroom, visibility, access aisle widths and complete flat floor, and there is no doubt that this is exactly what the CM delivers.
With an optimal 2 plus 2 arrangement in the saloon and varying lengths achieving capacities from 16 all the way to 35 seats, the CM body gives infinite flexibility in seating arrangements to suit even the most of obscure arrangements, observes Danny.
“Our goal is to have a solution that can be configured to suit any arrangement the operator desires” says David O’Leary, EVMs newest member of the sales team covering the south of the UK.
“With the CM, we can give our customers infinite flexibility, but without having to compromise as you would in a van conversion, while still being as light and nimble as a DPD delivery van.”
“The narrow and compact footprint of the finished vehicle is key for accessing narrow urban routes in the modern working environment for accessible and school vehicles” says Lorna Miller, EVM’s sales manager for the North and Scotland.
“Feedback from fleet managers tells us they want an all-round solution with a sturdy build, easy to maintain vehicle, and now we have it.”
Ease of maintenance
The CM’s tender winning abilities do not stop with its sustainability and short delivery timescales.
As every fleet manager will tell you, it needs to be reliable in service, easy to maintain and when things go wrong, easy to repair.
“The development of the CM body involved consideration for its complete life cycle, from initial design concept, through build methodologies and of course its life in service and ending with its 100% recyclability” says Cosimo Facecchia, EVM’s lead design engineer.
“We designed every element of the vehicle for ease of maintenance and repair, from the easily configurable and removable lower panels for access to ancillaries like wheelchair lift pumps and spare wheel carrier, to panel repair and replacement in the event of an accident”. The CM is built with reliability in mind from the ground up.
Warranty and end of life
The CM body comes with five year standard and up to seven years warranty depending on configuration, giving customers complete peace of mind. At the end of life, the body is 100% recyclable, going on to be ground down and built up again in other solutions for the transport and building industry.
“Our customers now have to make commitments about the choices they make when purchasing their new vehicles” says Peter.
“Every operator or council has commitments to sustainability and recyclability that they are measured on. The share this responsibility with us the suppliers through their scoring in tendering.”
“The CM body will deliver a checklist of USPs that will make this a key underpinning for their future commitments” adds Shaun McBride, EVM’s sales manager for the north and south of Ireland.
“We are already seeing the benefits in our tendering activities, winning tenders in a market where traditional offerings just can’t measure up to the all-round benefits of this build process”
EVM has confirmed demo models on Euro 6 will be available on Sprinter in the coming weeks quickly followed by Iveco and on electric platform in the coming months.
Requests for information can go direct to their sales team on 0845 5205160 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
FIND OUT MORE: EVM is exhibiting at the ITT Hub 2021 event on June 30-July 1, at Farnborough International, just off the M25, west of London. Register for your free place now! www.itthub.co.uk