The United Kingdomâs first electric ambulance from VCS marks the first step towards the countryâs vision of running an entire fleet of zero-emissions emergency vehicles. Each VCS electric vehicle (EV), which is dubbed the âElectric Dual Crewed Ambulanceâ (E-DCA), is powered entirely by lithium-ion batteries that are installed in the underside of the EVâs floor pan in a specially designed and automotive-compliant enclosure.
The ambulance was launched by West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS), which has its headquarters in Birmingham: one of the UKâs five cities that have been instructed by the government to introduce âclean air zonesâ (much like those seen in London). A recent study found that Birminghamâs toxic air shortens the lives of children by as much as half a year.
A close-up of the side of VCS and West Midlands Ambulance Serviceâs (WMAS) Electric Dual Crewed Ambulance. Image Credit: WMAS via Birmingham Live.
Keeping Pace as the World Moves Away from Fossil Fuels
Vehicle Conversion Specialistsâ all-electric ambulance vans are capable of reaching speeds of 75 miles per hour, have a power output of 96 kilowatts (roughly 129 brake horsepower), and can travel a range of 110 miles on a single chargeâwhich takes 4.25 hours to go from empty to full.
Said VCSâs managing director Mark Kerrigan: âAs the world moves away from fossil fuels and towards a zero-carbon future, itâs important that the emergency services sector keeps paceâ. Kerrigan went on to say that the recently-launched E-DCA is a strong first step on the path to electrification, and the firm will be able to continue to innovate and improve on their zero-emissions offerings.
Applying an Aerospace Design and Further Considerations
As Andrew Marsh, chief executive of West Midlands Ambulance Service has explained, the WMAS and VCS have implemented aircraft assembly techniques during the development of the electric ambulances: the result is an emergency response vehicle that is the lightest in the country and reduces the impact on the environment by reducing carbon dioxide levels.
To develop the zero-emissions powertrain technology that enables the vehicle to be powered by lithium-ion batteries, VCS worked with Europeâs specialist automotive firm Woodall Nicholson. The design of the powertrain has a low centre of gravity and is powered by the said 96-kilowatt battery pack, which provides the speed and range mentioned above.
VCS and West Midlands Ambulance Serviceâs (WMAS) Electric Dual Crewed Ambulances parked side by side at a hospital. Image Credit: WMAS via Birmingham Live.
The aerospace-type technology found on board also provides enhanced crash structures, which will dramatically improve safety while simultaneously enhancing the design of the ambulanceâs saloon. This is to the benefit of both operational staff and patients.
VCS plans to make further improvements to the powertrain so that a two-hour charge time can be achieved. This feat is planned to be achieved before the ambulance hits the UK roads, at such a time when the electric vehicles will be used in response to real incidents.