Long committed to electric mobility, the Star Service group recently acquired 180 units of the Citroën ë-Jumpy for its urban logistics activities. An approach explained to us by Alain Blouzard, Managing Director of the Soluvan subsidiary.
What is Star Service’s core business? What is the size of the fleet and the role of the Soluvan subsidiary?
Alain Blouzard: Star Service has 35 years of expertise in urban logistics. The group specializes in last-mile delivery with four main areas of activity: retail, healthcare, gourmet and automotive. We have 4,600 employees, 4,000 vehicles and more than 50 logistics sites in France.
Soluvan, the engineering subsidiary of Star Service, designs, adapts and finances all the vehicles meeting the operating needs of the group and its customers. Between the delivery of spare parts, blood samples or food shopping, we have very different activities and our mission is to find the vehicles that suit each of them. We have a laboratory where we test in real conditions and in professional use the vehicles that we are likely to acquire to see if they are adapted to our needs.
Beyond financing, Soluvan also offers all the services needed to respond to issues related to fleet management, in particular maintenance, repairs and even networks. Soluvan also provides Star Service with a permanent advisory and monitoring role on aspects related to the energy transition, thus enabling it to adapt its transport solutions to this new challenge.
When did the development of the electric fleet begin within the Star Service group? How big is the fleet today?
AB: As early as 1997, Star Service started using its first electric vehicles for food delivery. Between CNG and electricity, today we have around 350 low-carbon vehicles, 2/3 of which are electric.
A few months ago, Star Service announced the acquisition of 180 units of the Citroën ë-Jumpy? Why did you choose this model?
Of this size of vehicle, the Citroën ë-Jumpy is currently the one that best meets our criteria. It is perfectly suited to our business segments with a capacity of up to 6.6 m³, a good payload and good autonomy. It is considered to be probably the best electric vehicle in its class.
It is tested on several of our activities and assigned to certain customers for whom we have charging facilities. To date, approximately half of the vehicles ordered have been delivered. These are exclusively models equipped with the large battery (75 kWh editor’s note).
How is the integration of electricity organized within the teams?
AB: With the specificities that we already have on our temperature-controlled vehicles, the Star Service operating teams are very well organized to put new products in hand with personalized support.
The electric vehicle remains fairly conventional to use and does not require any particular learning. Our lines of work will essentially focus on eco-driving and the way of approaching driving, which is more flexible in terms of consumption than a traditional thermal vehicle.
How do your drivers apprehend this electrical passage? Are there any objections?
AB: Within the group, there are drivers who are very receptive to electric vehicles, new energies and the fact of driving without polluting. The electric also brings driving pleasure: you no longer go to the pump and you drive in silence. There is no reluctance and we have very few negative feedback.
Progress in terms of autonomy also makes it possible to envisage a serene use. With the Citroën ë-Jumpy, a milestone has been reached and we pass the 300 kilometers with a load. We have less this permanent constraint of having to look at our dashboard and know if we can finish our tour or not.
Citroën also offers a hydrogen version of its Jumpy. Is this a solution you are considering?
AB: We inevitably plan to test all the energies. We have no bias or a-priori. As soon as we have the opportunity to test this hydrogen vehicle, we will. We had done it with another manufacturer’s model a few years ago but the price was prohibitive and it was quickly aborted.
Whatever new energy is offered to us, it must respond to this equation between CSR, use/operation and accessibility/price.
What are the ambitions in terms of development?
AB: Star Service’s ambition is to respond to climate issues but also to regulatory obligations, in particular with the LOM law and the establishment of ZFEs. Our activity being almost exclusively urban, we will accelerate the integration of electric vehicles.
The energy transition will lead in particular to our temperature-controlled vehicles being electric. In our laboratory, we are currently testing several prototypes, including an ë-Jumpy equipped with an additional battery for the independent power supply of the cold group.
Nevertheless, we are slowed down on certain products, in particular on the ranges going from 2.8t to 3.5t. Indeed, these ranges of vehicles do not necessarily offer more ecological solutions today, favoring the offer on smaller vehicles. In the end, we are more limited in the development of our electric fleet by the product offer than by our ability to implement these vehicles.
Citroën ë-Jumpy: the electric van in five points