Bournemouth-based company, Ecologic Developments – creator of beautifully crafted, custom built timber frame luxury beach huts – has extended its corporate commitment to respect the environment. Locally born and bred company founder and managing director, Pete Samson, has bought a fully-electric van as the company’s latest vehicle and is now fully converted to the benefits of electric motoring.
Purchased from Westover Nissan in Bournemouth, the e-NV200 van has been fully liveried with the Ecologic Developments logo. It travels between the company’s workshop and its development sites - many of which are on Mudeford beach – slipping silently along local roads as well as over the sand.
“We’ve had a family beach hut since I was very young, so I’m well aware of the challenges of fitting a family house into a small space – the challenges of creating room for the children as well as civilised zones for the adults are nothing new!” says Pete Samson. “My parents lived in Wick so we’d cycle back and forth from our beach hut on Mudeford as kids and teenagers, messing about on boats and windsurfers. It was a wonderful way of life and I met many of my friends and even my wife on the beach!”
There are around 350 beach huts at Mudeford and Ecologic Developments has rebuilt more than 30 of them over the last seven years. The business, which has a strong Ecologic ethic, developed in an organic way itself – having refurbished his family beach hut, the enquiries started to flood in. Ecologic Developments now operates all over the UK, with projects burgeoning in locations like Blackpool, and employs 4 permanent staff and 6 subcontractors (depending upon workload).
Ecologic Developments is one of just a handful of specialist beach hut builders and its work has featured in The Times, as well as on TV show, Amazing Spaces.
The huts themselves are made to measure in a large workshop in the New Forest using structurally insulated panels – a building technique that originated in the USA and was adopted in Scandinavia. The design, honed by Ecologic Developments to meet with local regulations and weather conditions, ensures there are no cold spots in the structure.
The finished huts are craned into position on the beach, having been delivered on a flatbed truck or sometimes floated down river on a specially designed raft.
“Hand on heart, I can’t recommend the electric van highly enough,” continues Pete. “I was driving a gas guzzling diesel before and spending around £200 a month on fuel alone – which is a significant overhead for a growing, independent business. Now I’m spending virtually nothing!
“I was apprehensive about the range of the van in the early days but I know the boundaries and we plan our journeys accordingly. I charge the car every evening, plugging it when I get home in the evening – just as I do with my mobile phone. It’s no hassle. In fact, I’m hoping to build the fleet so that the team can each have an electric van. They’ll love the fact that they can turn the van’s heater on remotely via their key fob, stepping into a lovely warm car on those cold winter mornings, just like I do!
“It took some mulling over and a shift of mindset to make the leap from fossil fuel to electric van – it’s in our DNA to drive petrol or diesel vehicles - but that’s all changing. Signing the paperwork felt like a leap of faith but I have absolutely no regrets and now I feel irritated – and dirty too - if I’m in another vehicle and I have to stop and refuel at a petrol station. I love its electric credentials but the van is also very practical and it’s well suited to our needs, principally thanks to its low floor which makes loading and unloading heavy equipment easy.
“Building on a beach is always a challenge. There’s no power so we tend to build as much as we can off site and when we come to the beach it’s all about generators and hand tools. In terms of the vehicles, we need vans that can cope with congested town centre roads but are equally comfortable cruising across the sand. The e-NV200 fits the bill perfectly. I’d recommend it to anyone.”
The Nissan e-NV200, which shares its electric technology with the multi-award winning, fully electric Nissan LEAF, is packed with innovative features from single shift transmission to hill start assist. The instrument panel displays all the information a driver needs, including charge status and energy use. It has 4.2m3 of load space, wide opening rear doors, sliding side panel doors and a cargo floor height of just 52cm from the ground to make loading quick and easy. Proving its capability as a fully versatile work space, the front passenger seat folds down to create a desk.
For more information about electric vans, please contact Paul Gentle or Paul Brockwell at Westover Nissan Business Centre on Wallisdown Road in Bournemouth.
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