The Porter - a rebadged Daihatsu Hijet - is available in panel van, pick-up and chassis cab formats priced from £5,490 to £5,990 ex-VAT. But while the Hijet is only available with a petrol engine, the Porter features a 1.4-litre diesel powerplant offering 38bhp at 4,300rpm and 65lb-ft of torque at 4,300rpm. An electric version is available priced between £12,995 and £13,995 ex-VAT and can be recharged from a domestic socket. This van has a range of 50 miles and a top speed of 40mph.
The Piaggio Ape is a scooter-cum-truck with a 50cc engine, which is classed as a moped in Britain, with the obvious running cost advantages. First launched in 1948 it has since sold more than 1,600,000 worldwide. The Ape refuse collection vehicle costs £3,500 ex-VAT.
Reliant spokesman Noel Palmer believes the range has a major role to play for fleets looking for niche vehicles. He said: 'We are finding lots of interest from universities and local councils who are keen to be seen to be doing something for the environment. We are selling the Ape to many companies who are using it for travelling around large warehouses and sites, rather than using it on the road.'
So far 15 dealers have been recruited and there are plans for many more. Reliant has recruited Rodger Hemingfield from Vauxhall as general sales manager, fleet, and he firmly believes in the Piaggio product. He said: 'These vehicles are ideal for the growing niche market and it is a very exciting time for us. From what I have seen so far, this market is even bigger than we thought. And we are not just getting interest from small fleets. The bigger end of the market is looking into our range when seeking to downsize.'