Smith launches the Edison, an all-new electric van

Smith Electric Vehicles launched the Edison, an all-new electric van last month, and judging by the number of enquiries it fielded at the CV Show, a significant number of orders are likely to follow. The van, built in Washington, Tyne & Wear is a far cry from the milk floats the company has been making since the 1920s. It utilises the latest nickel chloride batteries, which gives a top speed of 50mph, a range of up to 150 miles on a single charge and a respectable 1,500kg payload.

As a zero emission vehicle it's VED-free and also manages to avoid the London Congestion Charge. The Edison uses the latest Ford Transit as a donor vehicle. This not only keeps Smith's development costs to a minimum but it gives the company instant access to a full range of van derivatives, including chassis cabs and minibuses. Equally important, it means that the Edison doesn't resemble people's preconceived idea of what an electric van should look like. It doesn't alienate drivers, which should mean higher acceptability than the Smith's previous range of light commercial vehicles.

Sainsbury's has already placed an order for eight Edisons, for use on its on-line home shopping fleet. It has announced plans to replace 20% of its urban delivery fleet with electric vehicles by next September and 100% by 2010. Other orders have come from Scottish & Southern Energy, TNT Express and Ceva Logistics.

Ponsonby pays £110k for bespoke 18-tonner

Scania's willingness to offer any cab with any engine won it an order for one of the most expensive 18-tonne box vans ever built. Midlands-based computer distribution specialist Paul Ponsonby explains that he needed a rigid for long-distance deliveries across Western Europe. "I wanted a big cab for driver comfort, but didn't want a big V8 engine that does 8mpg," explains managing director Paul Ponsonby. However he says he soon discovered that the two generally go hand-in-hand.

"I originally thought about the Daf XF105 or the Volvo FH Globetrotter, but both come with enormous engines," he says. "Then I discovered that Scania could give us exactly what we wanted with a 9-litre 310hp engine. It was just up our street." Because it carries computer equipment into hot climates Ponsonby says he opted for a Lamberet insulated body. It is occasionally used to pull a trailer from a wagon and drag outfit already on the fleet.

The finishing touches to the truck were two rows of spotlights, "which aren't my cup of tea," admits Ponsonby, "but the driver likes them. "You would not believe the amount of attention this truck receives," he says. "The response from customers and members of the public has been amazing." But then it did cost £110,000.