New electric vans 2020 and beyond
It's not just passenger cars that are going electric; more and more manufacturers are adding electric and electrified vans to their commercial-vehicle line-ups these days.
Already available are the likes of the Citroen Berlingo Electric, LDV EV80, Nissan e-NV200, Peugeot Partner Electric, Renault Kangoo Z.E. and Master Z.E., while Ford has launched a plug-in hybrid Transit and Mitsubishi offers a commercial version of its Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid SUV.
With many cities planning to introduce low-emissions zones in the coming years, vans like these are set to become ever-more important to businesses that want to keep working in urban areas. And as technology develops, electric vans' range and payloads are improving, too.
Here's a rundown of some of the most important models on the way in the next 18 months or so...
Citroen Dispatch Electric
The PSA Group – parent company of Citroen, Peugeot and Vauxhall – is launching electric versions of all its mid-size vans in 2020. Citroen's is called the Dispatch and will offer a choice of two batteries: 50kWh for a 124-mile range, or 75kWh for a 186-mile range.
As with the diesel-engined Dispatch, there'll be a variety of body lengths to offer flexibility in terms of payload and carrying capacity. Citroen says the electric Dispatch will offer improved comfort compared to the diesel, with “limited noise or vibration” thanks to the electric powertrain.
Citroen Relay Electric
The larger Citroen Relay and its PSA siblings are also getting electric conversions. The Relay Electric will be built at a factory in Val di Sangro in Italy, with the electric conversion carried out by Citroen's partner BD Auto.
It'll be offered in 'L1' and 'L3' bodystyles, with the latter featuring a longer wheelbase and greater cargo-carrying capacity. Citroen says the L1 version will travel 141 miles on a charge, and the L3 will manage 169 miles. However, these figures were calculated under the now-discontinued NEDC testing process, so it remains to be seen how they'll get on in real-world conditions.
Fiat Ducato Electric
A sister model to the Citroen Relay above and Peugeot Peugeot Boxer below, the Ducato Electric was announced in July 2019, before the merger between Citroen and Peugeot's parent PSA and Fiat's parent FCA came about.
Fiat says the Ducato Electric will be offered in the same range of body variants as the diesel equivalent, with load volumes from 10 to 17 cubic metres and a maximum payload of 1,950kg. Its motor will produce just over 120bhp, while a range of battery sizes will offer ranges from 136 to 223 miles (albeit calculated using the old NEDC test method).
LEVC plug-in hybrid van
The Coventry-based, Chinese-owned London Electric Vehicle Company – which also builds the electric London Taxi – is planning to introduce a new plug-in hybrid electric van.
It'll use a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine from sister company Volvo, as well as an additional electric motor to power the rear wheels. The same system can be found in the current LEVC taxi, and the same pure-electric range of 80 miles is promised here.
Initially, the van will be available in just one body style: a regular medium-sized panel van with 'barn doors' at the rear and a sliding door on the side. However, LEVC hasn’t ruled out different variants in future, while cargo space and load capacity are also unclear at the moment.
The eVito will have a range of 93 miles on a single charge, which Mercedes says is sufficient for mainly urban work – particularly for drivers or companies that complete planned, recurring routes on a regular basis.
A 41kWh battery stores power for the 113bhp electric motor, which has the same power output as the entry-level diesel Vito. The battery can be fully recharged in six hours from a wallbox charger.
The eSprinter is Mercedes’ second all-electric van, basically a larger version of the eVito above. You can order it with three (35kWh) or four (55kWh) battery packs; with the smaller pack, range is 71 miles and the payload is 1,040kg, while the larger one manages 104 miles and 891kg.
Maximum gross weight is 3,500kg and maximum load volume is 10.5 cubic metres. Like the entry-level diesel Sprinter, the eSprinter is front-wheel drive, with an electric motor sending 114bhp to the wheels. Integrated fast charging means the battery can be topped up to 80% capacity in 30 minutes.
Sister model to the Citroen Relay and Fiat Ducato above, the e-Boxer is another large electric van on the way in 2020. As with those vans, an exact UK price for the Boxer Electric will be confirmed closer to its on-sale date.
No technical details have been revealed at this stage, but as the e-Boxer shares its platform with the Relay Electric, a similar range figure of around 170 miles on the now-defunct NEDC efficiency tests can expected, translating a real-world figure in the region of 120-130 miles.
The e-Expert is Peugeot's equivalent to the Citroen Dispatch Electric further up this list and the Vauxhall Vivaro-e further down. Like them, it goes on sale in 2020 and will come with a choice of two battery sizes, so buyers can prioritise range or carrying capacity as needed.
Its 50 or 75kWh battery packs will give a range of 124 or 186 miles respectively. With either pack the e-Expert and its sister models will have the same amount of load space as their diesel-engined sister models.
Hot on the heels of its Corsa-e electric passenger car, Vauxhall will be launching a Vivaro-e electric van in 2020. It's identical under the metal to the Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot e-Expert above, with the same choice of 50 and 75kWh batteries for a 125- or 185-mile driving range.
Vauxhall has also mooted the possibility of a sporty 'VXR' version of the Vivaro-e, which initially would feature only visual upgrades such as large alloy wheels and a bodykit, but could eventually entail a power upgrade, too.
Volkswagen e-Caddy and Volkswagen e-Transporter
In 2018, Volkswagen revealed a two electric vans at the Commercial Vehicle Show in Hanover, Germany. The e-Caddy and e-Transporter will be sold alongside the e-Crafter below, with the e-Caddy the smallest in the line-up and the e-Crafter the biggest.
The e-Caddy and e-Transporter have been developed in conjunction with Formula E racing team and VW Group tuning specialist Abt. The e-Caddy gets a 37kWh battery with a range of 137 miles, while the 4.2 cubic metres of load space in the back mean it'll be one of the most versatile electric vans on sale.
The e-Transporter can be had with either a 37 or 75kWh battery. This means a driving range of 130 or 250 miles respectively, although the scalable battery technology on board means other capacities can be included.
The e-Crafter competes in the same category as the Renault Master Z.E. and LDV EV80. This category is set to get very busy in the coming months with the arrival of other models on this list like the Mercedes eSprinter, Fiat Ducato Electric, Peugeot e-Boxer and Citroen Relay Electric.
Volkswagen is biding its time a little with the e-Crafter, however, with UK sales not due to start until mid-2021. The large VW van uses the same powertrain as the e-Golf passenger hatchback, which means a 134bhp power output, a 107-mile range and a five-hour recharge time when using a 7.2kW wallbox charger.