Econ Engineering’s fully electric-powered gritter has secured a landmark contract with UK highways specialist Ringway signing up to take delivery of the revolutionary E-QCB (Electric Quick Change Body).

The first ever completely electric vehicle of its kind on the market utilises the very latest in sustainable technology without diminishing performance, helping customers cut their emissions footprint.

As the UK’s leading manufacturer of winter maintenance and highways vehicles, Yorkshire-based Econ Engineering supplies gritters, hot boxes and tippers to hundreds of local councils and contractors, spanning the length and breadth of the UK.

The E-QCB enables the vehicle’s bodywork to be switched between gritter, tipper or caged body modes, with easy transformation taking no longer than 15 minutes.

With more than 300 local authorities having declared a climate emergency, the Government has already issued guidance on how those councils, and other UK businesses, should be looking to switch their fleets to zero emissions vehicles ahead of 2035.

Ringway, responsible for looking after more than 50,000kms of the UKs highways network, has a long-term strategic fleet partnership with Econ and is the first contractor to sign up to a deal for the E-QCB.

Both sustainable and practical, the E-QCB 19-tonne Volvo FE Electric, comes with a range of demountable body options including gritter, tipper & caged body, which can be switched within just 15 minutes.

Designed with versatility in mind, the vehicle comes with alternative battery configurations to allow optimisation of range and payload, it can be fully charged in less than two hours (subject to infrastructure), runs near-silent with a range of up to 170 miles (depending on load and road conditions), and with no exhaust gases produced, can make deliveries in zero emission zones.

Vigorously tested during a recent demonstration tour around the UK, the E-QCB has already gained praise and endorsements while gritting rural routes in snowy Yorkshire, spreading sand for a Royal procession in central London and negotiating inner city streets in Scotland while collecting refuse.

Dave Olley, Operations Manager at Ringway said: “Ringway Hertfordshire is committed to delivering a sustainable service. Working with Econ Engineering we trialled the fully electric E-QCB multi-purpose vehicle and are now looking forward to adding it to our fleet and putting it to use on the UK’s road network.”

Jonathan Lupton, Managing Director at Econ Engineering, said: “We have spent a long time developing the E-QCB, undertaking comprehensive redesigns and trials across the UK, to ensure that we can offer a fully electric solution for our customers that can be used 52 weeks a year.

“We are delighted to extend what is already a strong relationship with Ringway by adding the E-QCB to its fleet. We are confident the vehicle will continue to impress and that its benefits will soon result in more deals of this kind.”

Christian Coolsaet, Managing Director of Volvo Trucks UK & Ireland, said: “Every part of the transport sector needs to have its sights set on achieving net zero, and gritting and snowploughing is no exception. The team at Econ has developed an exceptional new product with our FE Electric chassis at its heart; this is going to allow gritter fleets to reap the benefits of operating cleaner, quieter and more efficient trucks.”

Feedback from the demonstration tour included:

North Yorkshire Council:

The E-QCB was tested to the limit on a cold, snowy day at Sutton Bank which has a hill gradient of 1 in 4, and includes plenty of tight bends. The vehicle undertook two 40-mile gritting runs and an NYC spokesperson said: “The vehicle impressed us especially coping with the hills and had excellent range for an electric vehicle.”

The City of Edinburgh Council:

The E-QCB was put through extensive testing in both urban and hilly locations, with a council spokesperson remarking: “Simple effortless drive, easy vehicle to use. Excellent build quality – would love one in our fleet.”

Glasgow City Council:

On a 90-mile gritting route in urban Glasgow, carrying an eight-ton non-diminishing payload, it returned with an impressive 13% battery life remaining, while a 50-mile gritting route saw it return to the depot with 47% battery usage.

A council spokesperson said: “Vehicle exceeded expectations, excellent build quality, cannot fault the vehicle at all.”

City of Bradford District Council:

The vehicle’s flexible attributes were tested on a couple of routes, utilising both the tipper and then the gritter body, with a council spokesman commenting: “Great drive, was pleasantly surprised. Quiet and comfortable.”

City of Westminster:

The E-QCB was used to lay sand across London’s streets in readiness for the King’s carriage as he attended the State Opening of Parliament. It travelled 66 miles in an urban environment and finished with 51% battery charge.