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Is electric now?

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The eNV200 is the second high profile electric van to hit the UK market, after Renault launched the Kangoo ZE in 2011.

Nissan claims that, despite the alliance with the French firm that has seen them share platforms in the past, there is relatively little technological crossover, and that the eNV200 is in fact closely related to the Leaf.

The Range

The eNV200 is the second high profile electric van to hit the UK market, after Renault launched the Kangoo ZE in 2011. Nissan claims that, despite the alliance with the French firm that has seen them share platforms in the past, there is relatively little technological crossover, and that the eNV200 is in fact closely related to the Leaf.

As a first toe in the water, choice is unsurprisingly limited, with one power rating (107hp/283Nm) and one load variant (4.2m³) at a nominal gross vehicle weight of 2.2 tonnes. There is, however, the choice of a cargo van, a kombi and an MPV.

Driveline

The electric motor is the same as the one featured in the Leaf, although slight adjustments to the driveline have been made to make it better suited for typical van driving conditions. It’s capable of producing 107hp and, crucially for commercial vehicle operators, a high torque rating of 283Nm.

Nissan claims a 170km (106 miles) range, recorded on the official NEDC test cycle, which matches that of the Kangoo ZE. This, they say, is more than enough to meet the daily needs of 65% of van operators. The gear-less transmission means the gear stick is operated very similarly to that of an automatic version; with notches for park, neutral, reverse and drive.

Productivity

The gross vehicle weight has been raised 200kg by using stiffer suspension, strengthening the chassis and lengthening the crumple zone at the front. Despite the gross weight gain, payload has only increased 10kg to 770kg, which can be attributed to the weight of the battery cells.

One drawback though is the loading variations; there’s only one. It mimics traditional Japanese van dimensions with its narrow load width (1500mm), relatively short loading length (2040mm) and high roof (1358mm), giving an overall load volume of 4.2m³.

As with the standard NV200, there is a choice of either one or two side loading doors and a tailgate or asymmetric doors at the rear.

Model Wheelbase Length Width Height Loadspace Length Loadspace Width Loadspace Height Volume Payload
L1H1 2725 4400 1695 1860 2040 1500 (1220) 1358 4.2 770

 

 

Cab Comfort

The cab is very simple but functional in that the raised seat offers a commanding view of the road ahead and there are generous amounts of legroom and headroom, but the quality of the plastics used on the dashboard of such a high profile vehicle remains questionable.

The gear stick is mounted on the dash to make room for a larger storage area between the seats. The instrument panel has been digitalised to give an accurate account of energy consumption rates and how much capacity is left in the battery.

On The Road

Electric vehicles can be a real joy to drive, and the eNV200 is certainly no exception. Its silent motor means only the faint sound of the tyre in contact with the road surface is able to perforate through to the cab, while the single ratio means progress is uninterrupted by gear changes.

The 283Nm of torque packs a respectable punch for a van of this size, and means that the eNV200 is quick off the mark even with a full load. However, as we started to approach motorway speeds along the Nissan test track, we noticed the power wasn’t as readily available as it had been at typical city driving speeds.

Into the corners, the eNV200 retains good composure thanks to the careful positioning of key components. By fixing the battery cells underneath the body and between the two axles, the eNV200 has a much lower and centrally located centre of gravity which gives the eNV200 much better balance.

The moment you lift your foot off the accelerator, the unnerving, prominent force of the energy regeneration cuts in. Although this can be deselected, it’s recommended that operators get accustomed to it by planning ahead, as the energy regenerated is then restored back into the battery.

Safety

The standard NV200 was awarded three stars in the official Euro NCAP crash test, although the electric version is expected to perform better thanks to a longer crumple zone, a more rigid chassis and with ESP as standard.

The occupants of the cab are protected from the load area by a full height steel bulkhead. LED lights are also a standard feature on the eNV200.

Cost of Ownership

The preferred mode of recharging is through either one of the 2000 charging points in the UK or a specially installed home charge point. Recharging times vary from 6-8 hours with a slow 13Amp supply, to 3-4 hours with the fast 32Amp points and 30 minutes on Quick Charge. The 32Amp points can be purchased and installed for as little as £390.

Given that it takes around £2 to fully charge, Nissan estimate the annual “fuel” bill for an eNV200 operator would be around £250 to £300. A diesel engine covering similar mileage would expect to consume over £1500 of diesel.

The total operating cost of ownership is further reduced by the simplicity of electric technology, compared with that of its diesel counterparts. There are no timing belts, turbos, or injectors – which can be susceptible to failure after a while. Brake wear is also reduced thanks to regenerative braking system.

Summary

The lack of range and the fact electric doesn’t have a proven history will deny the eNV200 of a mainstream breakthrough for the time being. However, this is a really attractive option for those operating in and around the city with a consistently low range.

Predicted to hit the market later in the year, it’ll be interesting to see just how many van operators the Nissan sales and marketing team can convince that, as they so often claimed during the launch, “Electric is Now”.

Home >> Road Tests >> Is electric now?