Could this new Morris electric van could one day be cleaning up London’s air while also delivering delicious, soft serve, zero emissions icecream?
With the commercial arm of British carmaker Morris now making plans to revive its legendary J type vans with a modern, electric drivetrain take, it’s certainly a possibility.
Fondly remembered by many a baby boomer as the iconic ice cream van of the 1950s, the J type was used by many service and delivery-related industries in the UK as well as Australia, where it was a popular vehicle of choice for organisations such as the NRMA and Tip Top Bakeries.
A vintage model even took the eye of rock legend Mick Jagger in 2009, according to Morris Commercial, who after buying an ice cream from one J type icecream van owner, tried to buy it for £100,000 for it (about $A220,000 back in 2009).
While the J type has a loyal following and models are often seen now at vintage car shows, a newer version could soon be seen making deliveries in congested London streets.
An electrified version of the J Type, which will Morris Commercial as dubbed the JE, would avoid the £12.50 per day fee now London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which was introduced in April 2019 to give low and zero emissions vehicles priority in the UK capital and improve the city’s notoriously poor air pollution scorecard.
Currently, 4.6 million vans act as service vehicles for 1 in 10 jobs in the UK, according to recent data published by the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, but only 0.3% of new vans registered are zero or ultra-low emissions.
UK’s light commercial vehicle (LCV) sector has expanded at double the rate of the passenger car market since 2000 and Morris sees the opportunity in meeting the needs of the growing UK LCV market while saving fleet owners extra expenses associated with keeping higher emissions vans on the road.
There’s not a lot of specifications released on the new electric JE van – Morris Commercial has simply released a statement via its website:
Long referred to as the ultimate, classic and iconic van from the 1950s, the Morris J-type is making a triumphant comeback as the Morris JE.
The new fully-electric Morris JE will utilise advanced battery technology with a lightweight platform. Combining classically-inspired design with the heritage of the original J-type, the new JE will be built using beautiful British craftsmanship.
From what can been seen in the sketches, the new JE van will stay more or less true to the original J type retro curves but with somewhat sleeker styling, which no doubt will please fans of the vintage model.
It also appears the new JE version will sport a longer wheelbase, which would make sense if Morris is to meet the needs of modern day delivery and service fleets.
But more importantly, will it sport a big enough battery to not only keep the local icecream van on the move as well as power the freezer? For now, one can only hope.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.