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Advanced high-strength steel for vital parts of the British Modec electrically powered commercial vehicle were decisive to meeting the design requirements set by the company.

The design was nominated for the Swedish Steel Prize 2008.

The environmental demands on vehicles are continually being tightened up, with the requirements on commercial vehicles particularly strict.

This is what Modec, which was established in 2004, focused on when developing its vehicle.

Electric drive is no obstacle to lively performance, and the acceleration of the Modec is on a par with many equivalent diesel-powered vehicles.

Another valuable benefit is its tight turning circle diameter of 10.8m.

The range on one battery charge is about 150km, which is ample in city conditions.

An electric power socket is used for ‘filling up’.

The top speed is 80km per hour, which is the maximum permissible speed for trucks in Europe.

If equipped with an appropriate gearbox, the vehicle can negotiate gradients of no less than 33 per cent.

The battery pack is located mid-way along the vehicle and low down for a low centre of gravity and therefore good road holding.

The frame is important not only for safety reasons.

It also helps to resist the bending and torsional forces to which the vehicle is subjected during its life cycle.

Colin Smith, technical manager and one of the founders of Modec, said: ‘On ordinary trucks, the way the rear doors move in relation to one another while the truck is travelling is clearly visible.

‘This is entirely inadmissible in a vehicle with a battery pack in the chassis, since it would be likely to lead to short circuit in due course.

‘The only material that could meet this challenge is high-strength steel.

‘This material has enabled us to meet our demands for a functional and practical design.

‘We are using a hot-rolled, extra-high-strength steel with a minimum yield strength of 650 MPa.

‘We are also using this material in the “crumple zone” that protects the front of the vehicle in the event of a crash.’ The Modec production factory is a plant in which parts purchased from neighbouring subcontractors are assembled.

The proximity to subcontractors is a deliberate strategy.

John Ford, chief buyer at Modec, said: ‘It enables us to keep track of costs and minimise stocks to one week’s production.

‘All vehicles are built against firm orders.’ A vehicle is built in a number of stations at the factory.

The parts are taken into production on the ‘just-in-time’ principle.

Customers can order different lengths of the basic chassis.

This enables different types of equipment to be fitted to the chassis, such as a van body or a platform.

Since it is all based on a standard model, the production work is done quickly.

Customers include companies such as UPS, FedEx and Tesco.

In addition to the UK, the company has sales offices in the US, Ireland and the Netherlands.

SSAB Swedish Steel

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