Square Co-Founder Jim McKelvey Smuggles Us Into an Emerald Electric Van Test Drive

By Kym McNicholas , written on June 13, 2012

From The News Desk

Four years ago Jim McKelvey put his dreams of starting an electric car company on hold, when he and Jack Dorsey decided to start mobile payment company, Square. But two years into their partnership, McKelvey discovered Emerald, an English company building the world’s first range-extended hybrid delivery van.

Emerald announced McKelvey joined the Board of Directors last month. Last week, he took a trip to visit Emerald headquarters to test-drive the new t-001, which is a lightweight, zero/low-emissions, extended-range electric vehicle, on the exclusive Millbrook Proving Ground. It’s the same place most of the major UK brands, like Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Aston-Martin, Louts, and Jaguar, test their vehicles. It was even featured in the last James Bond film.

McKelvey got special permission to take a camera along to film his experience. The catch was he couldn't bring his own camera. Millbrook is very protective of its facility and the cars being tested on it. It helped that Emerald’s CEO Andy Tempest used to run the track back when Lotus owned the facility. He got a track-approved photographer to commemorate McKelvey’s ride and sent us the footage.

Take a look:

The t-001 can travel about 65 miles in all-electric mode. If it needs to travel further, it can switch to a gas/diesel generator. That may not seem like much, but not if you look at the numbers: A typical van today with the same payload in Europe costs $0.51/mile. The Emerald van costs $0.07/mile. According to Emerald, the van could save a major delivery company in Europe about $1.4 billion per year by converting a fleet of 50,000 vehicles. Production, which will take place in St. Louis, Missouri (McKelvey’s hometown), will begin in about two years.