Normally when you imagine an electric vehicle, your mind conjures up a small urban run-around with an aerodynamic curved design. In recent years, however, vehicle manufacturers have developed all kinds of electric vehicles, including people carriers, four-by-fours and vans. The latter are very useful for the last-mile transport sector, including logistic management companies (which make thousands of trips each day due to the increase in e-purchases) and distributors supplying food and textiles to small retailers or other products. Not only do electric vans avoid the cost of petrol and reduce maintenance expenses, but they are also unaffected by the increasing restrictions that fuel-driven vehicles face when it comes to moving around cities.
Not only is it useful for these companies to have an electric fleet of vehicles but also for small self-employed traders, like painters, building labourers, electricians, bands of musicians, schools (such as surf schools) or rent-a-kayak or bike firms, not to mention others that need to transfer materials from one place to another, such as the numerous individuals or firms needing to transport packages or cargo. Similarly, these vans can be useful for camping or ski enthusiasts or for removals. The electric vans that are currently available are attractive enough to serve all purposes, in addition to being functional, spacious, comfortable and elegant. Renault has already presented its Master Z.E, soon to be put on sale, with a capacity of up to 1000 kg and a real range of 120 km. This van will join its smaller counterpart, the practical E-Kangoo Z.E, which is already on sale and supposedly boasts the longest range on the market. What cannot be contested is the fact that it is the cheapest in price. This van is a swift convenient option for moving about the city, with a NEDC rating of 270 km (that is a real range of 200 km). Because it has a 44Kw (60 CV) motor, it can reach a top speed of 130 km per hour and it takes about 8 hours to charge, although this will depend on the charge point and lead that is used. One of the main benefits is its battery rental system, which makes the cost of the vehicle much cheaper. The battery rental fee ranges from a minimum of €69 euros a month if the vehicle does 8000 km a year, with the fee rising as the number of kilometres goes up. If you choose this option, you will save about €7,000 on the cost of the electric van. It is also a good way of ensuring that your battery is always in perfect condition and, if the vehicle does not do the agreed number of kilometres per year, you will get a proportional refund. There are various different plans to choose from and they are all flexible:
Nissan, one of the pioneers of electric vehicles, has not been twiddling its fingers either, with the brand-new E-NV200. This larger van, midway between a car-type van and bigger model with the option of 5 to 7 seats and 700 kg of cargo space, costs more than the E-kangoo but much less than the Master. The Japanese manufacturer has also managed to guarantee a real range of 200 km and 80kw of power. It comes in a choice of models, depending on the capacity and seats, with the option of passenger or cargo transport. The E-NV200 stands out for its very robust elegant design.
Citroën is the other manufacturer whose dealers are now showcasing a new van: the E-Berlingo Multispace. It has been launched at a price midway between the e-Kangoo and E-NV200, with a power of 44Kw and range of 170 km. It comes in two sizes, L1 (4.38m) and L2 (4.63m). As with all the previous models, because it is powered by electricity, no gear system is needed and so the motor is much smoother, with more uniform acceleration and braking. In all cases, these vehicles have a regenerative brake system that charges the battery every time you brake or lift your foot off the accelerator.
Thus the differences in the design and make of these vans mainly lie in their smaller details, since all of them try to offer a similar range and performance. Other manufacturers like Peugeot also have an electric van, the Peugeot Partner, while a second group, like Mercedes Benz or Volkswagen, are working on their versions, such as the IB Buzz in Volkswagen’s case (set to be launched in 2022)–a passenger van inspired by the legendary round-edged hippy camping vans, designed in vibrant colours to evoke San Francisco road trips–, or the more practical Volkswagen Crafter cargo van which is just about to be launched. Meanwhile Mercedes’ E-Vito is due to be launched in Germany during the second half of 2018.
In all cases, fully electric vans offer numerous benefits: their silence means that deliveries can be made to residential areas at times when fuel-driven vehicles are forbidden and they might also be admitted to inner areas where vehicle access is usually restricted. In addition to avoiding the costs of petrol, as we always like to point out, they are more comfortable to drive, with no noise or vibration. Obviously this is very important for workers who spend many hours at the wheel. Other incentives include the tax benefits, smoother drive and cheaper maintenance costs, not to mention the positive image that using electric vehicles can represent for small companies, making current customers aware of the fact and demonstrating this to future ones when they see your vehicles doing their rounds on the roads.