Chanje comes to electric vehicles

Chanje says its electric van is designed from the ground-up to be an electric vehicle and will have an initial range of about 100 miles.

Chanje says its electric van is designed from the ground-up to be an electric vehicle and will have an initial range of about 100 miles.

Chinese company, which has inked deal with Ryder, delivering all-electric vans

California-based startup Chanje  (pronounced “change”) recently announced its all-electric medium-duty delivery van is in production and will be available as soon this fall. The Class 5 panel van is designed and built from the ground up to be electric, rather than being retrofitted from a combustion engine, a first it says for the industry with a market of about 500,000 new vehicles a year.

The Chanje V8070, the company’s first vehicle, is equipped to haul up to 6,000 pounds payload, features 580 cubic feet of cargo space, has zero tailpipe emissions, and is completely silent. It also boasts an integrated touchscreen display in the center console, with LTE connectivity, that controls most of the van’s features.

Chanje General Counsel and Vice President James Chen tells FreightWaves the company is focused on optimizing energy usage and generation. “We’re talking about transforming the last mile for delivery. That is our whole goal,” says Chen. “So our vision, and really where the name came from, it’s not just changing deliveries, it’s changing the energy around it.”

And changing energy means changing quality of life as well, whether that be environmental, social, or monetary. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, medium- and heavy trucks account for almost one-quarter of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Chanje’s zero-emissions vans are built to perform in densely populated areas where the environmental and health effects of gas and diesel emissions are most concentrated. Additionally, EV drivers will no longer be subjected to the constant fumes associated with fossil fuel commercial vehicles.

Chanje is also hoping to reduce noise pollution and increase the quality of life for those in urban areas, where Chanje trucks are mostly likely to be on the road.

“Imagine what would happen if right now you’ve got a delivery truck and some garbage vans that have to go out in the morning hours because, frankly, overnight who wants to have that noisy diesel rumble with exhaust right below their apartment window,” says Chen. “So, what happens when those trucks are delivering or picking up or doing all of this stuff in the morning during rush hour, you get incredible traffic congestion. Imagine a completely silent garbage truck pick up the dumpsters, and you’re able to deliver products to restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, in the early morning hours well before rush hour because it’s quiet. And then all of that noise and all of that pollution no longer exists.

“And then in the morning rush hour, where you’ve got Chanje shuttle vans helping people commute as opposed to them being in cars as well as the mass transit,” Chen adds. “All of a sudden you’re not just shifting delivery, you’re shifting an entire ecosystem. You’re looking at moving people and goods more efficiently and quietly without pollution. That improves the economy and improves the quality of life. That’s really the ultimate vision.”  

On Aug. 14, Miami-based Ryder System, one of the nation’s largest medium-duty truck fleet management companies, announced that it will be teaming up with Chanje as its exclusive sales and service partner, buying electric trucks from the startup then leasing and servicing them through the fleet management company’s extensive network.

Although Chanje is not disclosing pricing at this time, the company believes leasing its vehicles will not only reduce risk for fleet owners, but also provide them with the most per-mile value. Chanje’s vehicle is a ground-up EV, so it was designed to be a lifelong truck, says Chen.

“When you have an internal combustion engine-equipped vehicle, you designed the vehicle to last as long as the weakest component,” he says. “It doesn’t make sense to design a vehicle on top of that to last longer than that. Ours is completely different. We see our vehicles lasting twice as long or longer than traditional internal combustion engine equivalents. Leasing makes sense in [the sense that] at the end of that seven-year lease period, we can take that truck back, update the software, swap out the battery pack for a fresh one and you’ve got another 7-10 years out of that vehicle easily. We’re able to capture the residual value of that truck which in the traditional market is not really understood.”

Because Chanje’s electric motors have significantly fewer moving parts than traditional combustion engines, there is also 70% less routine maintenance costs. And with motors at the rear hub, a battery pack placed low underneath the vehicle, and an estimated 50 mpg equivalent, operators will save an average of 70% in fuel costs. That can really add up for owners with larger fleets in Chanje’s target market of urban areas.

“Our goal is price parity with equivalent diesel-powered vehicles,” says Chen. “But because this is often for fleets, an equation that rests on the entire life of the vehicle, the total cost of ownership, we’re looking at all of the factors that come into play.”

A 70 kilowatt battery pack achieves about 100 miles of range per charge. Medium-duty trucks are used mainly on delivery routes that run less than 100 miles - the average route for these fleets in urban areas is typically 50-70 miles - meaning the Chanje V8070 can run a full day of regular routes before recharging overnight.

Backed by FDG Electric Vehicles of Hong Kong, Chanje has been operating in “stealth mode” since 2015 and just made its public debut in August. The company is headed by CEO Bryan Hansel, who was previously at Smith Electric Vehicles. The rest of its leadership team includes individuals with experience at Tesla, Daimler, Volkswagen Group, Ford, GM, and Faraday Future, among others.  

Right now, the vehicles are made in partnership with FDG in a manufacturing facility in Hangzhou, China, which means the first set of V8070’s will arrive in the U.S. as fully imported vehicles. But the company has plans to open assembly facilities stateside in early 2018, where the truck components shipped from China would be assembled.

Chen says Chanje is already working on second- and third-generation battery packs that will achieve even further range for customers who have routes that are more suburban or rural and need those extra miles. And because the truck itself is very modular, Chen says the company sees the potential for smaller trucks, shuttle bus configurations, and other utility-type service vehicles to be developed in the future.