Changing gear

BEDEO handles the conversion work for the e-Relay and e-Boxer and offers a range of expertise on vehicle electrification, as John Kendall finds out.

BEDEO is a European company with a manufacturing facility in Turkey, sales and marketing operation based in Paris and head office in London. The company has produced electric versions of a number of light CVs in the past and it is currently the conversion partner for the Citroën ë-Relay, Peugeot e-Boxer and Vauxhall Movano-e, which will shortly be appearing in showrooms.

“At one stage, the OEMs started looking at us and we realised the relationship was changing because they were coming to the market with electric vehicles, so we realised that we had to partner with one of them and we decided to partner with the Stellantis Group,” explains BEDEO chief commercial officer Ayoul Grouvel, himself a former head of electric vehicles at the PSA Group.

The company was established in 2009 by current CEO Osman Boyner, who recognised that there would be demand for electric LCVs across Europe. He also recognised that there would be demand for electric light CVs with refrigeration conversions, particularly in the retail sector. Currently, the company’s range of vehicles includes e-van, e-chiller and e-tipper, which were recently displayed at the Freight in the City exhibition held at Crystal Palace in north London. Besides the Stellantis conversions, BEDEO also carries out electric conversions based on the Renault Trafic and Fiat Doblo.

Regarding sales, Grouvel believes that times are changing. “Up to now we were selling our own vehicles direct. Now we can leverage the power and the might of the Stellantis Group, so we work as partners. When there are complex issues or very specific needs, we go direct. When the fleet is not yet mature to purchase, then maybe we’re going to launch one or two demos ourselves, we initiate the market. Then behind, when the big purchasers arrive, Stellantis takes over. They bring the size of their aftersales network.

Grouvel explained how its fridge conversion works, avoiding range issues that might affect temperature control. “First of all, we have a 70kWh battery, quite a big battery compared to most competitors. We work hand-in-hand with a refrigeration converter and we have an integrated team to work on the solution requested by the client.

“In this case, Ocado, the client wanted to have a specific system to power the refrigeration when the vehicle is switched off. So, we have a solar panel that has been installed with a separate battery, which allows us to keep an extra bit of power for 10 minutes.

“At the request of the customer, we can have an auxiliary system that can be plugged into our high voltage battery, for instance if a tail-lift is needed.”

BEDEO also offers three different means of charging. Firstly, charging from a domestic main supply, a comparatively slow process, as well as a 22kW AC charger, which is fitted as standard on the vehicle. This would enable charging in around five to six hours. The vehicle can also be rapid charged from a standard DC rapid charger.

Stellantis offers either a 37kWh or 70kWh battery with its large vans, but BEDEO finds that most of its conversions need the flexibility that the 70kWh battery brings. This provides a WLTP range of around 170 miles, but as Grouvel told us, the range depends on the customer’s use case.

At the request of the customer, we can have an auxiliary system that can be plugged into our high voltage battery.

He gave the example of a customer with operations in Germany and Austria. “In Austria they were leaving very early in the morning, it was cold, then they were travelling directly by motorway on a long-distance delivery route, returning to base. The same company in Germany managed to increase range by 40%, by using a more intelligent approach to payload, coming back to base, avoiding motorways and being careful about speed. There is a lot of training to be done from the driver’s point of view in using an electric vehicle.”

Besides its relationship with Stellantis, BEDEO will be exploring further niche products and segments. One of these is the minibus, where BEDEO thinks there might be a missing link between large buses and transport needs in an urban area. The company thinks there may be a niche for low floor minibuses with around 19 seats. The company is also looking at other, as yet undisclosed segments.

Grouvel believes that transport operators need to consider the total cost of mobility (TCM) not just total cost of ownership (TCO). “We’re talking about something which is a complete systemic change in some places,” he says. “Where you have communities that produce renewable energy on a small scale, you have a kind of new equation, where you go completely along a transition from energy production to the vans.

“This is an area that we are going to start exploring a bit more, to possibly partner with energy companies. In that case, your investment would be a small part of a multi-million-pound investment in renewable energy, plus you may be able to reduce the size of your fleet because you will use other types of mobility, so TCM would be lower.

“We’re talking about something which is a complete systemic change.”

“So, when we talk about the cost, we are comparing apples with pears. We’re talking about a paradigm shift to something new. We’re still struggling to explain that well. In the Nordic countries they think this way. In France and the UK, we’re very much still comparing ourselves directly with diesel. The client should be seeing it differently. How they can reduce TCM, while converting 100% to clean energy. We need to make progress in the way we explain that.”

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