Electric Vans are The Future


Electric Maxus EV80

Trucks and vans deliver everything we need to our shops, hospitals, businesses etc. Virtually all of these vital machines of commerce are powered by diesel engines. VAT reclaimable diesel fuel has always been the only tax efficient business choice for commercial vehicles of all sizes but the rise of electric vehicles is significant particularly in the area of vans. The compact commercial vehicle segment accounts for more than 750,000 vehicles per year in Europe alone. EV looks like the best answer to that last mile delivery problem.

Renault Zoe EV

We know electric cars drastically reduce emissions with only the source of the electrical power the remaining villain. EVs are slowly making inroads to the national car fleet with zero emissions from their non existent tailpipes so why not electric vans too. Commercials powered by electric motors truly are the short term solution to improving the air quality in our cities and towns. They are also brilliant to drive and offer a quiet cabin for their operators. Electric vans unlike diesel powered ones will have near future proof access to cities and towns and this is the biggest plus point.

EV vans come in all sizes

The Nissan Renault alliance has led the way with EV vans and has zero emission options in their showrooms right now. All commercial vehicle manufacturers want at least one EV in their line-ups. The PSA group (Peugeot/Citroen/Opel), Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Ford and others are gearing up and delivering more EV van choice too. A prime example is the brilliant little Renault Zoe based van – but many deliveries require a larger more conventional load carrying capacity. I drove an electric Mercedes-Benz Vito last year as a judge on Irish Van of the Year and was very impressed by its torque and ease of use. Sadly at the time availability was limited and on special application only.

Nissan e-NV200

A better example of what you can buy right now is Nissan’s e-NV200 (from €34,000 40kWh). It is a cracking electric panel van and benefits from government incentives including the SEAI €3,800 commercial grant, 0% BIK (benefit in kind tax) and reduced toll prices. SAIC (China) owned LDV now called Maxus was also quick off the mark with its EV80 (56 kWh) electric large van and EV30 (35kWh & 53kWh) models.

Peugeot e-Expert

In the last few weeks PSA siblings Peugeot and Opel have announced their respective e-Expert and Vivaro-e will arrive this year. Most likely the Peugeot will arrive a bit before the Opel. Lets take a look at the newbies. Both have the same underpinnings based on the EMP2 multi-energy modular platform, most versions are 1.9m tall so multi story carpark friendly. Various body options and passenger carrying options are available. Three body lengths of 4.6m, 4.95m and 5.30m feature also. As with all EVs regenerative braking is standard with a ‘B’ function too. Both vans are of course automatic with one forward and one reverse gear selectable. Gross vehicle weights range from 2,800kgs to 3,100kgs. The electric motor powered by the underfloor battery pack develops 134hp and 260nm. Both have very similar performance figures: an electronically limited 130km/h top speed is fine for motorway work and a 0-100km/h time of circa 13 seconds and on the move acceleration is impressive too. Drive modes features including an eco mode to maximise range. Cool options like automatic opening side doors and a host of connectivity will be available too.

The Peugeot e-Expert will have the option of two driving ranges with 330km the longest. A 50 kWh lithium-ion battery capacity delivers up to 230km range while a larger 75 kWh battery delivers the longest range. The battery is guaranteed for 8 years or 160,000 km for 70% of its charge capacity. Charging at a 100kW DC public charging station with the 50kWh battery will take just 30 minutes to get to 80%. The 75kW battery takes 45 minutes to get to 80%. The state of charge can be monitored from a phone app. The e-Expert has a payload capacity of 1,275kgs, and can tow 1,000kgs and will come in three body lengths of compact, standard and long. Its internal volume will be the same as the diesel powered versions.

So what buyers will be targeted first? Peugeot says the market is “in full e-volution” and that its “e-Expert is capable of meeting business needs for many customers: craftsman (florists, plumbers, electricians, etc.), companies concerned with their eco-responsible image and government bodies (hospitals, local authorities, etc.) who are looking for a zero-emission vehicle to transport goods between sites.”

Opel Vivaro-e

Opel says: “The Vivaro-e continues Opel’s electrification offensive, taking its place beside the new electric Corsa-e and the new Grandland X PHEV ranges, but also the Vivaro’s success story that began with the first generation in 2001. The next electric Opel LCV, the Combo Cargo-e will arrive in 2021. Opel will offer an electrified version of every passenger car and LCV model by 2024.”
“As the first all-electric light commercial vehicle to enter the Van-D market segment of medium-sized vans, and featuring a range of up to 330 kilometres in the WLTP cycle, the new Opel Vivaro-e sets the standards for ease of use, dependability and professionalism,” said Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller.

Electric vans are the future for use in our towns and cities. Ford and Volkswagen are another two of the big players that will soon have EV vans to offer the mainstream buyer. Battery tech still has a way to go in terms of cost and this is the main stumbling block with the EV switch for vans and cars alike. Before you rip up your order for a diesel van remember there is still plenty of life left in oil burners because of their cost and flexibility when it comes to ease of fueling. But the writing is on the wall for all internal combustion engines. Maybe Bob Dylan should rerecord a word change to “the times they are a-charging”.


About Author

Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan is a senior and highly respected motoring journalist based in Ireland. He is a frequently heard voice on motoring, transport and mobility matters and has multiple credits on national television, national print media, national and local radio and other outlets. Michael Sheridan has been a Car of the Year Judge for more 20 years (& more recently a Van of the Year judge). Michael has produced and directed many international and national motoring TV programmes and documentaries both on cars and motorcycles - including four films on the iconic Route 66. Michael Sheridan is a former Chairperson of the Association of Professional Motoring Press (APMP).

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