Three vehicles equipped with EA Technology's Wavedriver fast-charging and power management system will join Merseytravel's utility fleet on trial and in two months' time two of those vehicles will be tested in London by the Royal Mail for six months in London.
The trials will be the first time that operational tests have been carried out on panel van battery-powered vehicles which, says EA Technology, offer performance that is comparable with conventionally-powered vehicles and a range of about 50 miles.
The trial is part of a Powershift programme agreed and part-funded by the Energy Saving Trust to confirm the suitability of Wavedriver for commercial and public service vehicles. If approved, Wavedriver-equipped vehicles will be added to Powershift's register of low-emission models and will go into full commercial production.
Royal Mail head of fleet Mike Horlor said: 'The Wavedriver LDV will join our London fleet and will carry out delivery duties under arduous working conditions. Wavedriver technology shows excellent promise in advancing the practicality of electric vehicles and we will be studying very closely its real-world performance and potential costs.'
The Royal Mail's fleet - 28,000 vehicles - is a regular test-bed for alternatively-fuelled vehicles and it presently operates a nine-vehicle electric van fleet.
The only electric vehicles presently on the Powershift register are the Peugeot 106 and Partner and Citroen Berlingo and Jonathan Murray, head of transport projects at the Energy Saving Trust, said: 'A lot of fleets are expressing a great deal of interest in electric delivery vans of this size. Because the Wavedriver technology removes the need for roadside recharging infrastructure the trials represent a big step forward for electric vehicles in the UK.'