The Morris J-Type was a common sight on the streets of post-war Britain. The iconic commercial vehicle was utilised by brands such as Cadbury, Carlsberg, OXO and the Royal Mail for their deliveries. Now it’s been re-imagined for the era of electric vehicles. The all-electric Morris JE van was unveiled to much fanfare back in November, 2019.
Auto Futures has been talking to Dr. Qu Li, CEO and Founder of Morris Commercial, about the UK-based start-up’s plans for 2020 and beyond.
She tells us: “Morris Commercial was the largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in the
world in the 50’s. We are very honoured and proud to be the custodian of such an important brand. We are determined to revive the brand to its past glory with a modern approach.”
Having lived in the UK for over 30 years and, as an automotive engineer and designer, Dr. Qu Li developed a passion for classic cars. As an end result, she now has a special place in her heart for the British automotive history and designs.
“The original J-type is an appealing mix of aesthetic and practical design. In recent years, attractive van design has been largely neglected in favour of utility and functionality. We aim to re-introduce great, uncompromising design with the new JE.”
She adds: “The vision for the Morris JE is: iconic design, 100% electric, best in class in performance and utility and beautiful craftsmanship…a vehicle that turns heads and brings smile and contributes to the environment, business and economy post Brexit.”
Commercial Roll-out Plans
The original Morris slogan was – ‘A van to build your business’. Morris Commercial is taking inspiration from this. Dr. Qu Li says the Morris JE will be attractive to a broad scope of customers.
“The Morris JE stands out from competition both in terms of electrification, design, tech and the utility it offers. It helps big corporate fleets to reduce their carbon footprint by converting to electric and benefit from Morris JE’s optimal space/footprint ratio; helping to reduce operational costs and reduce the amount of trips the vans have to run thanks to its high payload capacity.
“Small businesses have the opportunity to stand out from the crowd, benefiting from Morris JE:s the unique design and customisation opportunities.”
She believe it could also be used by luxury and lifestyle brands and businesses.
“Obvious examples would include the hospitality industry, the sport and leisure industry, high end retail and manufacturing businesses, the events industry and green logistics.”
The Morris JE will be available to pre-order from Q1 2020 for UK and European customers. The first vans are due to leave the production line towards the end of 2021.
Adopting V2G Technology
The Morris JE is is a full BEV with a practical range of 200 miles. Although the vehicle is in the lightest sector of LCV, it does offer a large carrying capacity of 1000kg in payload and 5.5m3 in volume.
One of the its innovative charging features is the adoption of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. Dr. Qu Li talked us through the whole V2G process.
“It will not only take power from the Grid but also give the power back to the Grid. It will have an intelligent system to decide when to take and when to give. For example, if the owner arrives home at 6pm and has 70% of the power remaining, the driver/owner tells the car that the next journey will start at 7am and to a certain destination. The user then plugs the car into a V2G charger.”
Then, at 8pm, when the grid demand is high, the car will start to feed the power into the Grid.
She continues: “At 10-11pm, when people went sleep, it will take charge from the Grid and get to 80-90% before 6-7am. It also means, if there is a temporary power cut, you will be able to use your car to power your home and continue to have internet, cooking and watch TV.”
“The pace of change will ramp up driven by increased awareness of climate change.”
2020 is set to be a very exciting year for Morris Commercial. It’s looking to conduct investment fund raising to secure the next step of its company expansion and it’s already in conversation with corporate and institutional investors.
Operationally it’s also looking to secure a production site in UK with access to the high competency workforce within automotive in UK and one that stays close to its major suppliers.
Looking further ahead, Dr. Qu Li believes urban mobility as we know it will change radically over the coming decade and become cleaner and less invasive.
“Urban planning will re-focus on people rather than cars by limiting the number of cars and carbon emission from them.
“The change has thus far been gradual with three major trends; the development of electric cars, in-car technology being taken over by software providers and mobility moving towards access rather than ownership especially in cities. The pace of change will ramp up driven by increased awareness of climate change, technology and generation Y and Z making out a bigger user share.”
Dr. Qu Li concludes: “The Morris JE, combined with smart logistics solutions like large warehouses outside urban centres, will reduce the amount of trips and reduce the carbon emission to zero. Morris JE achieves this while putting a smile on peoples’ faces with its positive design.”