Vantastic - the best electric vans

Martin Gurdon

9 Aug 2023

It’s not just cars that are going electric - vans are switching to battery power too, as businesses switch over to bring the cost and environmental benefits of plugging in. There are plenty of generous grants and benefits, including exemption from tolls and clean air zones. Drivers love them too!

The most exciting are the Custom version of Ford’s battery powered Transit - due in British showrooms at the end of 2023 - and new the ID Buzz van from VW, which is now on sale. The Buzz is brilliant - if not the biggest - and the Transit will be great if its bigger brother is anything to go by. Here are some of the best electric vans that are - mostly- available to order right now.

1. Ford E-Transit

The E-Transit is a revelation. It’s cheaper than rivals, has more range and is super to drive. With the big ‘Ford Pro’ support package from the manufacturer on offer as well, it’s probably a more significant car for Ford than something like the Mach E. It's no poorer in terms of working practicality than its forebears. You can have the new e-Transit in three lengths and two heights, including a bare chassis for sticking specialist equipment onto, a double-cab set up for extra people, and various other configurations. With a claimed range of just 196 miles depending on which variant you have, obviously, the E-Transit delivers a knock-out punch to other e-vans. Just don’t expect that kind of range in winter with a van full of cement and lumber.

2. Vauxhall Vivaro Electric, Peugeot e-Expert and Citroen e-Dispatch

Like European royal families, today’s vans are often closely related. That’s because they’re often made by the same conglomerates on shared assembly lines and sold with different badges. This is why the Peugeot Expert, Citroen Dispatch and Vauxhall Vivaro light commercials look like triplets.

The electric versions have the letter ‘e’ and a hyphen in front or at the end of their names, and there are detail spec differences, but the way they do things is very similar, so we’ll concentrate on the Vivaro-e.

This is a Ford Transit rival and has either 50 or 75kWh batteries stuffed under its load deck, which in its longer form will swallow 6.6 m3 of goods and carry items up to 4m long. You might well go for the bigger battery, as it has a claimed range of 205 miles, which is rather further than the 50kWh’s 143 miles. But hang on, the larger battery pack is heavier so its payload goes down from 1,226kg to 1,002kg. Both versions have a 1,000kg towing weight, but the smaller battery takes less time to charge. Vauxhall is claiming 80 per cent in as little as thirty minutes on a fast charger. The 75kWh version needs another fifteen minutes.

There are three trim levels, the amusingly named Dynamic, Elite (surely something a van can never be) and Double Cab Elite, which has a second row of seats. Unlike its Peugeot and Citroen stablemates, which come in three different lengths, Vauxhall’s van is either 4,959mm and 5,309mm long.

3. Citroen e-Berlingo, Peugeot e-Partner, Vauxhall Combo-e

These three are also sisters under their very similar skins. This time we thought we’d give the Citroen the limelight. Two body lengths are offered (4.4 and 4.75m long). The smaller version will take 3.3 m3 of goods, the longer van 4.4 m3. Payload is up to 800kg, and towing capacity 750kg.

Official range is 174 miles courtesy of a 50kWh battery powering a 100kW electric motor, capable of 84mph, but at that speed you’d be breaking the law and getting through your allotted electricity rather faster. Citroen claims fast charge electrical replenishment in as little as thirty minutes. These figures apply, more or less, to Vauxhall and Peugeot’s equivalent vans.

The Berlingo might be a sensible choice, but who thought that was a good place to put a charge point?

4. Renault Kangoo Z.E. & Nissan Townstar

The third generation Kangoo arrived in UK showrooms recently and ditches the previous, decade old version’s rounded, soft toy looks for sharper styling.

Once again there are some clever storage features. When left hand drive Kangoo owners open the passenger door and its rear sliding companion they will be confronted by a very large hole, because there isn’t a b-pillar separating them, so getting bulky items into the Kangoo should be easier. Sadly, this won’t be a feature of right hook vans.We gather that it will get something described as ‘a permanent rear view digital mirror’ and clever packaging ideas apparently include an internal roof rack.Kangoo the third will be sold in two lengths with a load volume of 3.3 m3 to 3.9 m3 in the short one and from 4.2 m3 to 4.9 m3 in the longer van. Renault has sold 50,000 Z.E. badged electric Kangoos in the past decade. 

And the Nissan? It's replacement for the pioneering e-NV200 is nothing more than a rebadge of the Renault. 

The new Kangoo - the model has been one of the most successful electric vans

5. Renault Master Z.E.

So is the Renault Master Z.E. which is a much bigger panel van rival to things like the Mercedes Sprinter. The van is offered in short, medium or long body versions with high and low roof options. The bigger the Master the heavier it is, so the smallest version will carry the heaviest loads, the largest the bulkiest. Carrying capacity ranges from 8 to 13 m3. There are even a couple of chassis cab options for coach built bodies. Theoretical range between charges is 125 miles, although Renault also quotes a real world figure as low as 75 miles. Charging times go from a not-so-fast-charge of 4 hours 5 minutes to 13 hours 55 minutes for a three pin domestic socket. Power comes from a 57kW electric motor normally found in the Zoe hatchback car.

6. Fiat Ducato Electric

Yes, this Italian badged large van is the same vehicle as the Peugeot e-Boxer, Citroen e-Relay and Vauxhall Movano Electric. The Fiat is sold with a three ‘module’ 74kWh battery with a claimed 142 miles range or five module, 70kWh battery which will allegedly keep going for 223 miles between charges. The smaller battery pack has an eight year, 100,000 mile warranty, the larger one is guaranteed for a decade and 135,000 miles.Charging times? Fifty minutes for the fastest charge up to 80 per cent. You can add another seven hours to that for a less juicy wall power unit.In van guise there are three lengths and three heights with space for stuff ranging from 10 m3 to 17 m3, and it can weigh up to 1,900kg. For vans with the biggest backsides loads can be up to 17m long. Chassis cabs are also offered for trades that need specialist bodies (from removal persons to butchers).

7. Mercedes eVito

‘eVito’ might sound like a brand of sports drink or the street hashtag for a diminutive, veteran Hollywood comic actor, but is in fact the name of a German electric van. Mercedes is up front about this mid-sized van’s real world range, quoting WLPT combined range figures of 91-92 miles. It's certainly not the longest range, but it might be enough for urban delivery duties. 

As for recharging, a Type 2 11kW wall box will take six hours to fully re-charge the van. Speaking of chargers, Mercedes will fit one to your garage wall at no extra cost if you buy an eVito.

The Long wheelbase eVito has a payload of up to 905kg and 6.0 m3 of loading space. The Extra Long version manages 890kg and 6.6 m3 of space. Other features include a Thatcham-approved alarm and tracking software, so that any tools left in one of these vehicles overnight have a chance of still being there in the morning. Along with the rest of the van. 

8. Mercedes eSprinter

This more substantial Mercedes electric van has much in common with its smaller eVito stablemate, including the ‘buy me and we’ll fit a charging box as part of the deal’ offer.

Mercedes claims using a rapid DC charger an eSprinter driver will get 80 per cent electric replenishment in 30 minutes, an AC fast charger takes eight hours for 100 per cent topping up. To haul stuff around the van makes use of an 85kW, 114 horsepower motor.

The eSprinter has a claimed 82-95 mile range (combined WLTP figures). You can shove a payload weighing up to 731kg into the back, which has a volume of 11 m3 - there’s only one wheelbase.

Should the van become powerless, there’s free roadside assistance that covers ‘I forgot to charge it up’ misery.

9. Morris JE

Morris Commercial claims it will start taking orders for its retro-look JE baby van very shortly, after a painfully long gestation period. The undeniably cute looking JE is a modern day homage to the 1948 launched Morris J-Type van, then Morris’s first new commercial vehicle since the end of the last war. The JE hasn’t actually got beyond the prototype stage, its makers won’t say where it will be built or when, but if it does see the light of day the JE will have a carbon fibre body and modular underframe, so there’s potential for some clever packaging.

Visit Morris Commercial’s website and you will see stuff about pickups, minibuses, infotainment systems, autonomous driving technology, and the following claims: 90mph top speed, 200 mile range, 1000kg payload, 5.5 m3 load volume, and 80 per cent fast charge replenishment in half an hour. Real world figures? We’ll have to see some real JE vans on our roads to find out.

We also need to see about the price. There have been some figures mentioned that made us wince a bit. You'd need to consider this an advertising expense rather than a workhorse van. 

Morris might have you dancing with joy, until you see the price

10. Maxus eDeliver 3 and eDeliver 9

More mature readers might remember a van brand called LDV, which churned out vans which were used almost exclusively by the Post Office, police and as school minibuses. These days LDV calls itself Maxus, is a Chinese company, and has two pure electric models, the eDeliver 3, which is a Nissan e-NV200 rival, and the Sprinter-chasing eDeliver 9.

The smaller van has an allegedly wind cheating front end and  35kW and 52.5kW battery options. Charging times? Maxus claims a 45 minute DC fast charge will result an 80 per cent full battery. The remaining 20 per cent needs another 35 minutes. How far will it go? The claimed range is between 95 and 141 miles depending on the model (WLTP combined figures).

There are a couple of body lengths. The shorter van has 4.8 m3 of space, the longer one 6.3 m3.

Maxus will also supply a chassis cab version so you can bolt a tipper or Luton body on the back. That’s also true of the capacious eDeliver 9, which is one of the most powerful electric vans on the market. Its 201bhp motor produces a hefty 310Nm of torque. The van has a trio of battery sizes (51.5, 72 and 88.55kWh). Fast charging times pretty much mirror the eDeliver 3’s, and like the eDeliver 3 you can expect it to take eight hours plus to recharge using a slow charger. How long would it take to grind to a halt for want of juice? Maxus claims between 112 and 185 WLTP combined miles.

There are two body lengths, with 9.7 m3 and 11.0 m3 worth of room in the back, payloads go from 860 to 1,500kg, which is also the amount of weight any version of this vehicle will tow.

eDeliver is all white with us

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