Bluebird Automotive, of Swansea in Wales, which last year set a 137mph UK speed record for an electric car, has secured a contract to supply door-to-door milk vendor Express Dairies with its latest electric-powered vehicle.

Using the same technology as Bluebird's record-breaking electric car, the XDV Urban Delivery Vehicle has a range of 60 miles (100 kilomteres) and a top speed of 60mph (100km/h).

Express Dairies, the UK's largest home retail business, has ordered six pre-production vehicles. This will eventually lead to full-scale production of several thousand units, including the complete replacement of Express' current fleet of electric milk floats.

Bluebird recently moved into new premises in Pontardawe where it is establishing a production base.

It estimates that up to 350 new jobs could be created to meet demand over the next five years.

The vehicle, which Bluebird can make entirely to customer requirements, can be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This is because it is supplied with two sets of batteries, and while the vehicle is out and about being used, one set is recharged back at base.

The batteries can then be replaced in less time than it takes to load milk or other goods.

"We have always known that electric vehicles are the cleanest and cheapest source of automotive power," said Bluebird Automotive chairman Martin Rees. "The problem has always been the time it takes to recharge.

"We believe we have solved that problem and so, for the first time, our electric vehicles will be able to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Because the batteries are interchanged and charged off the vehicle, it will be possible to 'refuel' the XDV in the same time that it takes to fill a petrol or diesel van, but at a fraction of the price."

Bluebird says that while the vehicle is priced very competitively, its running costs are tiny when compared with petrol or diesel units.

Completely emission-free, the latest generation electric motors also offer swift acceleration and the top speed of 60mph makes it practical.

The company offers a bespoke design service and the vehicles can be built to carry almost any type of load. Small bus versions can also be built to order.

Bluebird Automotive offers a choice of chassis sizes and capacities up to seven and a half tons.