British Firm Charge Reveals Electric Van That Can be Built in Four Hours

British outfit Charge, the official electric truck partner of Formula E electric race car series, provided a look at its futuristic electric truck during the Wired 2016 conference in London last week.

The electric box on wheels is said to have a driving range of 100-miles (160-km).

“For longer journeys, a dual mode can be used to ‘top up’ the battery and extend the range to 500 miles,” Charge CEO Denis Sverdlov said, though he didn’t say exactly what type of range extender would be used.

Best of all? Charge said that a single individual can build the van in just four hours, meaning that 10 people, over two shifts a day could assemble 10,000 trucks a year.

“We find trucks today totally unacceptable,” said Sverdlov. “At Charge we are making trucks the way they should be – affordable, elegant, quiet, clean and safe.”

The vehicles are built using ultra-lightweight composite materials that significantly reduce the weight of the vehicle, and by combining this technology with Charge’s custom built hardware, including power electronics and motors, they have been able to reduce the cost of operating by more than 50 percent.

Sverdlov is focusing on affordability, so that the vehicle could give “every fleet manager, tradesperson or company, no matter how big or small, the opportunity to change the way they transport goods and make our towns and cities better places to live in.”

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But wait, there’s more.

The company said its trucks would be autonomous-ready, capable of being upgraded with self-driving capabilities when autonomous-driving legislation is in place.

Charge does have some real-world experience to point to. It already builds trucks ranging from 3.5 tons to 26 tons, and its Formula E electric prototype support trucks have been operating since last April.

The company is also involved with the proposed Formula E Roborace, a series that would feature electric artificially intelligent race cars, i.e., driverless race cars.

Currently, Charge reportedly has more than 50 automotive and software engineers on staff, with its headquarters conveniently located in what’s known as the “Oxford triangle,” an area where a number of Formula One team factories are found.

The company is planning to open its first factory in 2017 nearby, and expects production vehicles soon after.

New Atlas