There’s been a rush by almost all van manufacturers to develop fully electric versions of their best selling van ranges. Increasing demand from consumers and the quest to meet overall emission targets mean new vans are being announced with increasing regularity.
With advances in technology, range between charges is increasing rapidly and this makes a BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) a sound proposition for many.
We’re taking the manufacturers’ ‘real world’ range estimates where offered – otherwise the official Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) range is stated which will invariably be longer.
It’s perhaps good to start with the French manufacturer who has really led the charge with the Kangoo ZE since 2011. In its latest guise this little van has a claimed real-life range of up to 124 miles and charging times from six to 17 hours (the latter from a conventional three pin domestic socket). All models can carry a payload of over 600kg.
The Renault Master ZE was the first fully electric large panel van to hit the market. Available in a number of body configurations with load cubes of up to 13cu/m, the manufacturer claims that 75 miles of real-world driving is available in the summer months. Despite the weight of the batteries, a very healthy payload of up to 1425kg is quoted.
Based on the passenger car of the same name, the Renault Zoe is a small van designed for urban use. Its colossal quoted range of up to 245 miles (WLTP) makes it a strong contender for those looking for a zero emission solution for city and suburban driving.
After some build up, Mercedes-Benz recently brought the eVito to market, the all electric version of their popular medium van. An average range of 93 miles (WLTP) on a full charge might not suit some van operators but others who work close to base may be tempted as the van can be fully charged in as little as six hours. The eVito has a payload of 923kg and a load volume of up to 6.6cu/m (identical to the diesel powered van).
Need a much larger van? Mercedes-Benz has you covered with the newly launched eSprinter. With an equivalent power output of 114hp it should easily cope with a full payload of 774kg (albeit much lower than its diesel siblings). The manufacturer quotes an average range of 96 miles from the 55kwh battery pack. Using an optional fast charge facility, a zero to 80% charge can be achieved in just 30 minutes.
Here’s another manufacturer with a long electric van heritage. Although the diesel engined equivalent has been discontinued, the e-NV200 remains popular with a recent upgrade to the electric drivetrain it shares with the Leaf car.
Although designed perhaps with the urban delivery market in mind, it has an excellent WLTP range of up to 187 miles and a rapid charge facility of 40 minutes to 80% capacity. It also has a very snazzy digital dash display...
The van market leader has been a little slower bringing its fully electric vehicles to the market, having spent a lot of development time and resource on the hybrid version of the Transit Custom while other competitors have focused on the BEV.
The all electric Transit is due to be launched in 2021/2022. Few details have been released as yet, although the van is due to make its debut in the US. Expect range to be competitive when compared to its biggest rival, the eSprinter.
Currently comprising the Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroen van ranges, PSA have launched a fully electric version of their medium-sized panel van, the more or less identical Vivaro, Expert and Despatch respectively.
This one could be a game changer, with a currently unchallenged combination – a payload of up to 1,226kg, a WLPT range of up to 206 miles, fast charge in just over 30 minutes and a full, medium van sized loadspace. Definitely one to watch.
VW has been steadily developing electric versions of their van range and these are just starting to come to market.
Recently launched is a fully electric version of their best selling and iconic Transporter. Built in conjunction with specialist firm ABT, the e-Transporter is based on the long wheelbase version of the standard van and therefore offers 6.7cu/m of load volume.
Compared to the PSA van, it has a slightly disappointing claimed range of 82 miles and a lower payload of 1,001kgs. The all important fast charge facility achieves its 80% top up in 45 minutes.
Transporter’s bigger brother, the Crafter has previously been available in electric form but at present the e-Crafter isn’t on the UK market. Expected to resume sales in 2021, the manufacturer claims a range of up to 107 miles (although with a full load expect a lot less than this) and a quite impressive charge time of five hours from a wall box.
The Italian manufacturer has long had an interest in developing alternatively fuelled commercial vehicles. The e-Ducato is now available and with the optional five module battery pack the company claims a range of up to 148 miles.
Customer concern regarding the durability of battery packs is recognised with a 10 year warranty. A handy 1,160kg of payload combined with a load volume of 17cu/m makes the Ducato a realistic proposition to many.
With the recent launch of the new Daily Electric, the manufacturer is the only contender offering a van with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of up to 5,600kg. Currently few details are available, but a claimed range of up to 200kms (approximately 124 miles) is being advertised.
Finally, Chinese manufacturer SAIC brings to the UK market its range of vans under the ‘MAXUS’ brand (formerly LDV).
The e Deliver 3 van, competing with the Nissan e-NV200 and Renault’s Kangoo ZE, is offered in two wheelbases. Payloads are around the 1,000kg mark with load volumes up to 6.3cu/m. The charge time is a competitive six to eight hours depending on the battery pack specified.
A WLTP range of 150 miles together with a good level of equipment and a keen sale price makes it a strong proposition, providing you’re not too concerned about brand perception.
I started my career selling vans in the mid-eighties, progressing through dealer groups to management level. In 2010 I joined vehicle valuation company CAP, being made responsible for forecasting future used values for all makes and models of vans and trucks, this data being used by leasing companies and manufacturers to assess future risk. This role entailed very early exposure to new models including extensive testing across Europe.
In 2016 I started up my own consultancy business dedicated to the LCV industry. In addition, my freelance written work has been used by a number of clients and I am a regular contributor to WhatVan? magazine. I’m also a judge for their annual ‘Van of the Year’ awards.
To relax, I enjoy travel, walking near my Yorkshire home and spend much of my time being bullied by my pet cat, Leo.