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UK demand for new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) surged by 21.0% in 2023, reaching 341,455 units, as per the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Each month, more businesses invested in fleet renewal compared to the previous year, resulting in a record influx of zero-emission vans onto Britain’s roads.

In 2023, an additional 59,316 LCVs of various types and sizes were registered compared to 2022, following a £2 billion increase in spending by companies fulfilling essential roles in the economy, spanning from local trades to online delivery services. December notably experienced a 36.1% surge in demand, marking the strongest month since 2015. As a result of increased vehicle investment throughout the year, 2023 witnessed the highest demand for new vans since the sector’s post-pandemic recovery in 2021, with the market just -6.6% below 2019 levels.

Demand for the largest vans (weighing more than 2.5 tonnes to 3.5 tonnes) continued to rise by 9.4%, representing 66.9% of all new van registrations, driven by operators opting for payload efficiencies. Medium-sized vans (above two tonnes to 2.5 tonnes) saw the largest growth, surging by 78.4% to 57,992 units, catering to urban operators' requirements for heavy load carrying capacity and smaller vehicle sizes.

New battery electric vans (BEVs) witnessed a positive trend, reaching record volumes with a 21.0% increase to 20,253 units, constituting 5.9% of the market. December saw a remarkable 73.8% surge in BEV uptake, with the greenest vehicles representing 10.0% of registrations, marking the second-highest monthly BEV share.

The Ford Transit Custom was the best-selling model of the year, followed by its larger sibling the Ford Transit dimensions. Third place in the rankings went to the Vauxhall Vivaro dimensions and the first and only pick-up truck in the top ten was the Ford Ranger.

Despite these advancements, the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate, mandating 10% of every van manufacturer’s sales to be BEVs this year, poses challenges. Flatlined BEV market share in 2023 compared to 2022 highlights the need to align LCV demand with supply, necessitating immediate action to address barriers to BEV uptake, particularly the shortage of van-suitable public chargers. A sustained commitment to the Plug-in Van Grant is essential for facilitating a seamless transition across all sectors and regions of the country.

Vehicle importer of luxury cars Clive Sutton has launched a new premium conversion of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

Called the VIP Class Sprinter it has seating for up to nine people with leather-clad seating, twin 40-inch 4k screens and even two fridges. There’s also a surround sound cinema system.

The revamped Sprinter has seven padded saloon chairs, and because it is based on the high roof model has more than two metres of headroom thanks to the generous Sprinter dimensions.

Options for the posh van include anything from coffee machines to a full washroom with hand basin and flushing toilet. The rear space can also be fitted-out with a full-size wardrobe.

Prices will start from from £180,000 plus VAT. Additional equipment, however, will surely see the price of many reach eye-watering numbers in the realms of many of the supercars that Sutton is known for selling. The VIP Class Sprinter will be available with a huge selection of options from heated seats throughout to a high-power air conditioning system.

For those that are conscious that they are in the rear of a van, a twin-section panoramic glass roof ( or a triple-section on the extended wheelbase Sprinter) will also be available.

Fitted with dark privacy glass as standard, Sutton says it is ideal for business meetings thanks to its HDMI integration for the 4K smart screens, or as party transport with its full audio system, mood lighting, and dual drinks fridge compartments.

Clive Sutton, Founder and CEO: “Our customers demand the absolute pinnacle of luxury, refinement, comfort, and practicality, so we’ve pulled out all the stops to make our 2024 VIP Class Mercedes-Bens Sprinter the most luxurious, spacious, and stylish way to transport up to nine people in absolute comfort.”

In addition to its Sprinter-based people mover, there is also the possibility of having a bespoke people carriers based on the Mercedes-Benz Vito van.

All vehicles are fully-homologated  and available as ‘built-to-order’ or ‘pre-configured’ versions to customers across the UK and come with a three-year warranty on both the vehicle and the conversions.

Estimates vary but more than two thirds of the world’s populations will be living in cities by 2050 – an increase of 13%, equating to roughly 1bn more people. As things stand, this poses a number of issues not least for air quality and noise pollution as scores of vehicles flood the cities to meet our needs whether it is for construction materials and equipment or goods for home delivery and healthcare.

While much of the urban population growth is expected in countries such as India, China and Nigeria, Europe and the UK are reacting to the role transport plays in pollution levels and are introducing stricter emission targets in cities and placing restrictions on the types of vehicles that will be allowed to enter the cities to counteract the rise.

Electrification is becoming a high priority for governments and fleets alike, but how will building materials, your weekly food shop and critical temperature vaccines all be moved about the urban environment. There’s now a growing need for converted electrified vehicles capable of moving such items and just like with combustion engine products it will be chassis cab vans from bodybuilders that will be filling the void.

“We’re constantly electrifying our vans, and we always keep an eye on our customer requirements. The requirements regarding bodies and conversion are as diverse as the sectors that use them,” explains Markus Reis, Mercedes-Benz Vans product manager.

While there are no limitations as to where an electric vehicle might be used and what sectors are likely to operate them first, blue chip companies are leading the way and it’s no surprise that the booming home delivery segment is a willing customer.

“We have both N1 and N2 vans of the E Deliver 9 being built for Tesco,” explains Mark Barrett, MAXUS general manager. Having already supplied chassis cab versions of its previous generation large electric van, the EV80, to a number of fleets, MAXUS has been able to develop their new E Deliver 9 model to better cope with the demands imposed by fridge units, tail lifts and other auxiliary equipment.

“One of the things for us, is the early planning with the customer at how we integrate the fridge and the base vehicle together. We engage with the factory, and we have 3kW to 5kW of additional spare power from the battery which is going through a controller unit, and the fridge connects to that. For other auxiliary equipment, like tail lifts, it can come from the standard 12v battery,” explains Barrett.

A blue line drawing of a minibus van with an electric drivetrain, the background has wind turbines

Not all manufacturers will permit a direct power feed from the traction battery, which can lead to having separate power supplies in addition to the 12v battery to run ancillary devices, however, for the most part the power consumption of the equipment is either relatively low, or confined to short bursts.

“Of course it impacts on the range,” continues Barrett, “but surprisingly very little. On maximum drawdown you’re looking at 10 to 15 minutes to get it down to chill or frozen. That will probably done while still on charge and once its down to temperature it doesn’t take much [to maintain the temperature]. Heating the cabin of the van will in theory use more van than the fridge.”

Veteran of the electric light commercial vehicle market Renault, whose Master ZE large van has recently been rebranded as the Renault Master E-Tech, already has an electric Luton low-loader van on sale and is, according to Renault LCV conversions manager Mark Waite, experimenting with other prototype bodies and battery top-up solutions.

“The only complexity we have with electric vehicles is how you treat electrical connections because it’s forbidden to take any electrical connections off of the Master’s traction battery. You still have the 12v electrical system to connect to, so the question is when do you connect to that [or a separate supply]. We’ve prototyped a ZE tipper and will go into a test phase to see what impact it has on range. We’re not expecting it to have a dramatic effect because the electrical draw for raising a tipper bed happens for a 20-second blast. Putting a tail lift on a Luton box van, you’ve got the same issue where the electrical draw would impact the range of the vehicle. In that instance, we’re doing a trial with fitting solar panels to the roof to assist in making sure the main 12v battery is topped up, because in reality you’re going to use a tail lift more than a tipper.”

Manufacturers are in fact already working on a solution for more power-hungry equipment with both Iveco and the Stellantis brands confirming to Van Reviewer that they are working on electric PTO solutions for their eLCVs.

“We’ve been working with bodybuilders for about two years,” says Mike Cutts, Iveco business line director (LCV) about the 2022 model-year electric Daily van.

“We will focus on the chassis models with an electric PTO offer, making sure there’s enough transferable power to meet the applications whatever you want to put on the back,” Cutts explains.

Presently, however, Stellantis bodybuilder relations manager, Hervé Criquy, believes that the vehicle’s main battery can be used to power most equipment and with only a small decrease in range from the equipment’s power draw. “We believe the HV (high voltage) battery can supply enough power to any conversion appliance, without major impact on the range due to the consumption. For example with fridge solutions, the impact of a normal delivery round trip shall be of -5 to -8% on the range,” Criquy says.

When it comes to limitations on what body can be applied to an electric van both Barrett and Waite believe there are actually no limits. With the exception of the placement of battery cells if they’re located within areas a bodybuilder would want to drill in to for mounting, neither sees any issues – a point which Mercedes has ably demonstrated by converting an ambulance on to an Mercedes-Benz eSprinter chassis.

“The industry is quite good at thinking how to overcome potential drawbacks with electric systems. If you think of refrigerated vehicles, the refrigerated vehicle industry has developed its own lithium-ion battery systems to power electrical refrigeration units,” Waite says.

Barrett agrees, and goes so far as to say that electric versions can outperform their diesel equivalents.

“I think any of the applications on a diesel would work on electric. Even when it comes to van payloads as we have that flexibility in the UK with the uprated payload. It has killed that issue. We’re plated at 4050kg on the N2, so you’ve actually got a better payload.”

Vehicle range, reduced payload and invariably the purchase cost may all be valid areas of concern for potential electric van purchasers, but when it comes to equipping this new era of vehicles with the bodies and equipment we’ve become accustomed to there’s no reason to be alarmed. Indeed, as technology improves, the efficiency and productivity of these vans may well see bodied EVs becoming more practical and cheaper to run than their ICE equivalents.

How to build onto an electric van chassis

  1. Examine the documentation

    Like with any build its best to read the instructions. Manufacturers provide their partners with details technical documents and these should be your first port of call. An accredited body builder is best placed to do the work. If in doubt, consult the experts.

  2. Fix to existing mounting positions

    The priority is to not damage the safety cell of the vehicle or its battery. Many electric vehicles have defined points where bodies, cranes or tail lifts can be fixed to. These will likely be the same position as any ICE equivalent vehicle.

  3. Don't try to utilise the traction battery

    If adding additional powered equipment don't assume you can use the van's own electrical system. Some vans will make provisions for you to tap into an electricity supply, other won't. More power hungry devices might require a Power Take Off unit and ePTOs are becoming increasingly common.

The hidden costs of electrification are well documented, and we’re not talking about the nasty shock from your energy supplier when the monthly statement lands. Extracting rare raw materials from the earth using methods that not only scar the landscape but often pollute local water courses and other vital animal habitats has long been the secret shame of our quest for Net Zero.

Doing so in some of the most impoverished countries in the world with a labour force too young to attend your nearest high school has been another stain on the business of building batteries whether they’re for electric vehicles or consumer electronics. Like all large companies, Mercedes-Benz knows this and as a result its latest Mercedes-Benz eSprinter will be free from cobalt and nickel to lessen the impact of its production but as a whole the brand is pushing towards a cleaner future. The Ambition 2039 sustainable business strategy is an overarching aim to make its car and van production CO2 neutral over the entire life of the vehicle. That means a fully electrical vehicle that has had its entire CO2 output in production either neutralised or offset.

The vision begins in earnest in 2025, when all newly launched vehicles will be electric only, but the process has in fact already begun with electric versions of all models now present in the range. Mercedes estimates the total investment in electric vehicles between 2022 and 2030 will surpass €40bn.

There reductions in CO2 begin at the point of manufacture where steps have already been taken to produce CO2 neutral vehicles with new plants designed to allow this using innovative energy concepts including photovoltaic systems, DC power grids and energy storage systems based on reused vehicle batteries.

“We talk about our own green electricity efforts in our production for example. We are already CO2 neutral this year, but of course not totally without doing a [CO2 offset] contribution where we are not capable to do it otherwise. But by increasing the green energy production on site ourselves, we can get those substitutions in other ways, getting emissions down and being like real CO2 neutral in our in our production,” explains Marcel Minter, Mercedes-Benz Vans head of business and product strategy.

Mercedes-Benz factory 56

“What is the crucial part for us is that our vans are actually shaping the cityscape. We are aware that our vehicles are important in terms of mobility but many people just think of them as courier and parcel vehicles. If you look at those vehicles, we have refrigerated, bringing goods to restaurants and kindergartens, we have ambulances, we vehicles taking engineers to your house to repair your washing machine. We are talking a lot about banning vehicles from the city, but we say that's not the solution – at least not for our vans, because we believe strongly in individual mobility and we want to contribute to that. We want to show what is already possible today and what will be possible in the future because our vans have a role to play,” Minter continues.

From harvesting solar energy on production site roofs, through to recycling everything from wastewater to giving batteries a second life, Mercedes-Benz Vans is looking to minimise its environmental impact and utilise self-made green energy, whilst still producing a vehicle that meets the demands of its customers.

A recent technological study vehicle called the Mercedes-Benz Sustaineer (a portmanteau of ‘sustainability’ and ‘pioneer’) explored the numerous possibilities of a greener Sprinter van.

From its cast iron brakes with a ceramic coating to reduce the amount of fine particulate emissions, to its use of sustainable materials (natural straw) in the bulkhead, Mercedes is thinking outside of the box for future materials and their applications. The concept also underlines the fact that improving city air quality will not come from emissions alone.

“We wanted to show that sustainability is much more than just EVs and CO2 reduction,” continues Minter. “We took the current Sprinter as the technical basis and we have added a lot of sustainable features in it to make that tangible. We have for example, just a simple one, added shelfing in the back, as the use case was for a courier and parcel vehicle, out of recycled material. The partner who did that shelving system, they started to think of sustainability in a totally new way with recycled plastic and now they offer their own [sustainable] shelving system. now. We have added solar panel, sustainable fabric and fillings for seats. That's how we think of sustainable logistics in the future.”

While recycled materials and renewable energy make a significant contribution to the production emissions of a vehicle, the ongoing output throughout the life of a van will invariably come under scrutiny. Zero emission vehicles ensure local CO2 emissions are negated but the problem of fine particulates remains and is becoming an increasing problem.

“Of course, another example is the fine dust pollution. Many people think that fine dust is caused by the engine, but it is the brakes, the tyres, and the recirculation from the street. What we did was reduce the fine dust emission of the brakes and the tyres, and then [develop a] systems to the front, into the underbody. By doing so we're capable to filter out between 50% to 200% of its own emissions, depending on the overall pollution. So, if you operate the vehicle in China, the area after it [the van] passed it's cleaner than before. This is awesome and is something we are now figuring out with the Austrian post – where we do a pilot and testing that filter system in real conditions. We wanted to try that in real driving condition. We're now figuring out step-by-step, which one of these ideas makes sense. And if that makes sense, is it a business case? In the end it's about making money, but especially in these sustainability features, we are convinced that they could be a huge differentiator in terms of our competitors. It's a good USP because we are, more or less, the only premier manufacturer in terms of vans and we set the standard over and over again in terms of safety, and in terms of connectivity, for example. Then we want to set the standard again in sustainability,” Minter explains.

While a giant under-bumper vacuum cleaner might sound a little far-fetched as a means of improving air quality, Mercedes is pushing the envelope in trying these things. Their use differing materials and innovative systems does set them apart from competitors. As a premium brand it is looking at ways of maintaining that uniqueness and through developing environmentally friendly and sustainable products it is setting itself apart.

Photovoltaic cells on a factory roof

“Perhaps there are some features where we don't make money with the option, but we are the only ones who can offer that to customers and the customers, in terms of sustainability, says okay, that is very important to me. Our target is to get as much sustainable features and materials in as possible, because otherwise we won't reach our Vision 2039. Our main approach is to get as much sustainability in as possible, as standard.”

Is it then possible that in the future we will see specific sustainable editions of Mercedes vans? Minter thinks not, but does concede it is perhaps something that would work in the passenger car market. Instead, for commercial vehicles, he says he would like to see sustainable materials and features being adopted across all models. “There could be a way that you mark those sustainability features. So, some materials that are sustainable, they are then not black, but green. That could be a way that people can show that they are thinking in that direction. But for it to work and be sustainable it has to be incorporated into all of the vans,” he adds.

A truly sustainable van may still be a long way off, but Mercedes is making big steps to improve its net CO2 outputs. From the factory to the product, Mercedes vans are not only speaking about ambitious targets but actively chasing them.

How to build a sustianable van

  1. Invest in clean energy

    Mercedes' purpose-built Factory 56 might be being used to build passenger cars, but it lays out the blue print for how clean energy can improve production. The site uses solar panels on its roof and wind turbines in the area around the facility to produce green energy that is sufficienty enough to run the production line.

  2. Make the process more efficient

    Waste is the enemy of sustainability. By reducing wasted materials as well as wasted time, the process of building a van has become more efficient. Greater efficiencies mean a more sustainable product.

  3. Use sustainable and recycled materials

    We all know recycling is hugely important, but using recycled materials in the production of a van is not something you'd automatically think of. Mercedes-Benz Vans has been toying with the idea of using recycled plastic bottles in its vans. The plastic bottles are processed and the spun into a fine thread which is used to weave fabric for the seats. Other initiatives have included using plant-based fibres for items like shelving.

  4. Adopt zero emission drivetrains

    This is the big one. Remove the combustion engine and all of a sudden the van become less polluting over its lifespan. Providing the energy used to charge electric batteries is green, adopting electric drivetrains (and in future hydrogen, also produced from green energy) will see vans become much more sustainable across their life.

The Fiat Ducato has been revealed as the safest van in the latest Euro NCAP tests for commercial vans in 2023.

The Ducato takes the title as the best van for safety for the second year running, scoring a total of 63%.

In the Commercial Van Ratings announced today, the Ford Transit and the Fiat Ducato both achieved a Gold rating. The Mercedes-Benz Vito, however, has dropped from Gold to a Silver rating. Also rated as silver is the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Volkswagen Transporter, the Renault Trafic, Nissan Primastar and Volkswagen Crafter.

Vans with a Euro NCAP Bronze Rating for 2023 include the Citroën Dispatch, Citroën Relay, Iveco Daily, Vauxhall Vivaro, Vauxhall Movano, Peugeot Expert, Peugeot Boxer, Renault Master and Toyota Proace.

Last year the Fiat Ducato was the safest van tested in 2022 but since then there have been other notable success stories, most recently with the Volkswagen Amarok and the Volkswagen ID Buzz getting 5 Star Euro NCAP ratings. The lowest scoring van in 2022 was the Nissan Interstar with a score of just 18%.

Euro NCAP ratings for 2023 have been tightened with stricter criteria. The results for eighteen vans show a drop in overall ratings compared to last years ratings, but the same vans lead the pack for safety. The Fiat Ducato was the only Platinum rated van last year and despite once again topping the list it has been dropped to a Gold rating under this year’s tougher protocol. Its 88% rating in 2022 has been downgraded to 63% in 2023.

The Nissan Interstar continues to be rated Not Recommended based on its lack of crash avoidance systems.

Under Euro NCAP’s plans, by 2026 vans will be expected to have the same ADAS requirements as passenger cars, and the van rating will from then on only consider standard fitment across all European markets.

Euro NCAP will soon advance safety solutions in the fleet market with the introduction of a rating scheme for heavy goods vehicles. Safety systems in HGVs are considerably more advanced than light commercial vehicles, and many manufacturers have been leading the way for autonomous vehicle testing which requires ADAS equipment.

Euro NCAP’s new criteria for Commercial Van Ratings takes ADAS to a higher level with greater emphasis on vulnerable road users including pedestrian safety, with focus on night-time scenarios, and cyclists as well as the introduction of one new van-to-car crash scenario.

Other vans due to be crash tested soon by Euro NCAP include the Ford Transit Custom and the LEVC VN5.

What is the safest van?

Officially, according to the Euro NCAP Commercial Van ratings the safest van on sale in the UK is the Fiat Ducato. It gained a gold rating with an overall score of 63%. The Ford Transit was the only other vehicle to get a gold rating with a 60% rating.

What is the least safe van tested by Euro NCAP?

According to the round of Euro NCAP tests conducted in 2023 the least safe van on sale is the Nissan Interstar with a rating of 18%.

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Watch the Fiat Ducato undergo tests for the Euro NCAP commercial van safety tests 2023

When it comes to towing and determining what is the best van for towing it’s crucial to consider several factors as there are so many models and variations available. It can be difficult to know which one is the best fit for your needs.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the key factors to consider when selecting a van for towing, and recommend some of the best models currently on the market.

Weight towing capacity

One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a van for towing is weight capacity. The weight capacity is the maximum amount of weight that the van can safely tow, including the weight of the trailer and any cargo inside. Exceeding the weight capacity can result in dangerous overloading. This can lead to a loss of control, reduced braking ability, and damage to your vehicle.

Before selecting a van for towing, it’s important to determine how much weight you’ll need to tow. This will depend on the size and weight of the trailer, as well as any cargo that will be transported. Once you have an estimate of the total weight, you can look for vans with a weight capacity that exceeds this amount. Pick-up trucks also have the ability to tow. Most pick-up trucks can tow more than 3 tonnes, and many can tow the maximum 3.5-tonnes.

Power and performance

In addition to weight capacity, power and performance are also important factors to consider when selecting the best van for towing. Vans with larger engines and higher horsepower will generally be better suited for towing heavy loads. Similarly, vans with all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive may provide better traction and handling on rough or slippery terrain.

When evaluating vans for towing, it’s important to look at factors such as horsepower, torque, and towing capacity. These specifications will give you a good idea of the van’s overall power and performance capabilities, and help you determine whether it’s a good fit for your towing needs.

The best van towing safety features

Towing can be a dangerous activity, particularly if the trailer is large or heavy. To minimise the risk of accidents or injuries, it’s important to select a van with strong safety features. Some important safety features to look for when selecting a van for towing include:

Other things to consider when towing

You'll need to ensure that your vehicle is equipped with a tow bar, which typically includes a ball mount and clip. Additionally, you'll need to have a wiring harness to ensure the towed unit's electrical system, including the brake lights, is functioning properly. It is also essential to have a spare number plate for the vehicle you're towing with to display on the trailer.

It's worth noting that large vans generally have a towing capacity exceeding 3000kg, allowing them to tow a wide range of trailers, however, even among different versions of the same van model, the towing capacity can vary significantly. Check the plated weights of the vehicle – these can usually be found inside the door frame of the van.

Finally, it's crucial to take into account the van's gross train weight (GTW) or gross combination weight (GCW). This weight represents the maximum combined amount the kerbweight of the van, its load, and the trailer can be. For example, if your 3.5-tonne van can tow up to 3000kg, you'll need a GTW of 6.5 tonnes to use both the van and the trailer fully loaded. If the GTW is lower, you'll need to adjust the payload of either one or both accordingly.

Best Van for Towing

With these factors in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best vans currently on the market for towing.

  1. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter: The Sprinter is a popular choice for commercial and personal use, thanks to its impressive towing capacity. The Sprinter is capable of towing large trailers up to 3.5-tonnes and transport a large amount of payload as well. It also features a range of safety and convenience features, including blind spot monitoring, a rearview camera, and adaptive cruise control. Read about the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter dimensions.
  2. Ford Transit: The Transit van is another popular van for towing, with a high towing capacity, good stability and range of safety equipment. It too can tow 3.5-tonnes. The option of an all-wheel drive system will improve traction when towing. The Transit also features a range of safety and convenience features, including a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, and lane departure warning. Read about the Ford Transit dimensions.
  3. Volkswagen Crafter & MAN TGE: The Crafter has giant payload capacity and a high towing weight at 3.5-tonnes. It’s too has a raft of safety features, but also has a clever Trailer Assist system that lets you steer the angle of the trailer using the wing mirror view adjustor.
  4. Fiat Ducato: The Ducato is a powerful van that is well-suited for towing heavy loads. It’s towing capacity is slightly less than the Sprinter and Transit at 3.2-tonnes but it also has an array of safety system including trailer sway control, a rearview camera. Read about the Fiat Ducato dimensions.

Mercedes-Benz has given the Mercedes eSprinter a significant update boosting its power and range with new motors and battery packs.

The new eSprinter gets an electrically driven rear axle which, in addition to improving the packaging of the electrical systems, has save weight and enabled more variants to be produced. A wider range of eSprinters will be available including chassis cab models with factory built flat bed and refrigerated options and up to three wheelbase lengths for panel vans.

Power for the eSprinter comes from a new permanent magnet synchronous motor producing either 100kW or 150kW. That’s a significant step up from the 85kW motor found in the previous eSprinter which also produced 295Nm of torque compared to 400Nm for the new motor. The motor is said to weigh just 130kg which in addition to new, lighter batteries helps the eSprinter achieve a maximum payload of 1575kg. It also gets a towing capacity of up to 2-tonnes.

The power ratings are for the motor's peak power, which is available for a maximum of 30 seconds. Continuous power in the eSprinter is limited 80kW, while peak torque is 400Nm.

What size battery does the eSprinter have?

Three different battery sizes are available with 56kWh, 81kWh and 113kWh lithium iron phosphate packs that are now free from any cobalt or nickel. Previously the eSprinter was available with only two battery pack sizes either 41kWh or 55kWh.

Mercedes-Benz eSprinter plugged into a charger

Charging rates have increased from the previous eSprinter’s 80kW maximum to 115kW. The Mercedes-Benz eSprinter has both AC and DC charging capabilities with a 10% to 80% recharge said to take just 28 minutes for the smaller 56kWh battery and 42 minutes for the biggest 113kWh battery pack.

The three battery versions:

  1. 56 kWh of usable capacity
    o Weight: 470 kg
    o Dimensions: 970 x 825 x 291 mm
  2. 81 kWh of usable capacity
    o Weight: 620 kg
    o Dimensions: 1,300 x 825 x 291 mm
  3. 113 kWh of usable capacity
    o Weight: 850 kg
    o Dimensions: 1,745 x 825 x 291 mm
    * Available only on L3 vehicle length at 4.25t gross vehicle weight

What's the eSprinter's battery range?

For the largest battery, the electric range, according to simulations of the WLTP cycle, is up to 400km, while the WLTP city cycle reaches as much as 500km.

The Mercedes-Benz eSprinter’s range claims have been validated by Mercedes-Benz with a return journey from Stuttgart to Munich where the van managed 475km on a single charge. The eSprinter averaged a consumption of 21.9kWh per 100km and finished the journey with 3% still remaining on the range indicator. The verification test was carried out using a 113kWh battery model and in an L3 wheelbase panel van.

Changes to the eSprinter bring it more closely into line with key rivals like the Ford E-Transit and Maxus E Deliver 9, both of which have multiple power outputs and body sizes and variants.

What's different?

When it comes to looks it's the same eSprinter, but under the skin Mercedes says that everything has changed with the exception of the charging port.

The motor, and rear axle, as well as the batteries are all new. But there's also new leaf springs at the rear to fit around the electric axle. The high voltage system is new too. In fact, the way the eSprinter has been put together is a new concept altogether. It's more modular in its design. The front houses the integrated high-voltage battery and other high-voltage components. The rear is the site of the driven rear axle and electric motor. The middle is where the additional batteries are placed.

Has anything changed on the inside?

Mercedes has been rolling out its MBUX infotainment system across its range of cars and vans for several years, but when you consider that the combustion engine Sprinter was the first of all models to get the system it was unusual that the eSprinter made do without. The previous model also only had a basic LCD display in the instrument cluster for battery information. That's no longer the case.

The latest eSprinter gets the full MBUX system with a 10.25-inch display. It's also been updated with its own EV specific details. That means you'll get real time data on battery charge levels and range. In fact, Mercedes has created a smart interactive range indicator that links with the navigation. It gives you a more accurate idea of just how far your battery charge will take you. Amusingly, the system - which includes an outline of how far you can travel superimposed on the navigation map - is nicknamed "the range potato".

It's one of a number of systems that Mercedes is calling its "Electric Intelligence". It takes into account the traffic conditions and typography of your route. When predicting the range it can also calculate the best possible charging strategy in order to get you to your destination. That can also include arriving at your destination with a certain level of charge. Great for if you know that charging is not available at the stop-off.

The special EV capabilities of the new MBUX include:

  1. Charging settings
    o Set departure time
    o Limit max. power consumption (two modes to choose from)
    o Battery charge level limit
  2. Preliminary air conditioning
    o Set departure time
    o Individually weekday settings
    o Additional pre-air conditioning options available via key, app, etc.
  3. Energy flow animation

Where is the Mercedes-Benz eSprinter built?

Production of the latest generation Mercedes-Benz eSprinter will be carried out in three locations. Charleston in North Carolina, USA, is the production site for all North American Mercedes-Benz eSprinter vans. European eSprinter models will be produced in two locations, with Ludwigsfelde manufacturing chassis cab variants and Dusseldorf responsible for panel van production. In total, the eSprinter will be available in more than 60 markets.

What's coming next?

The new model eSprinter will also be the brand’s first global electric LCV and will go into production the US and Canada in the second half of the year ahead of its launch in Europe.

Mercedes has sold more than 30,000 electric vans to date and has pledged to sell only electric and zero emission vehicles from 2025 onwards. That means no new combustion engine models will be produced after this date.

The 2025 date is also significant. This will be when the new van.ea modular platform will come into use. The electric vehicle platform will be the basis for the next generation of eSprinter vans as well as eVito and other passenger models like the V-Class.

How much will the Mercedes-Benz eSprinter cost? When is the new eSprinter on sale?

UK models of the Mercedes eSprinter will come in early 2024, so it's going to take a while. Production will begin in the US and Canada in the second half of 2023, before starting in Europe latter in the year.

Panel van models will go on sale first followed by chassis cab and the various bodied versions direct from the factory.

Pricing will be revealed closer to the time, but expect it to be somewhere in the region of the current eSprinter price north of £50,000.

It feels like it’s taken an absolute eternity but the wait is finally over and the full specification and price of the Mercedes-Benz Citan has been revealed. The entry-level pricing for the smallest Mercedes van will see the Mercedes-Benz Citan priced from £21,310 excluding VAT.

One power option and two trim levels will be available on the Citan, but key features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will feature as standard alongside 7-inch touchscreen, multi-function steering wheel with cruise control and safety systems such as Active Brake Assist with pedestrian recognition, Attention Assist and Hill-Start Assist. The Citan also gets six airbags as standard along with a reversing camera.

All Citan vans will also be connected to the Mercedes me services, free of charge for the first three years. That means that real-time vehicle data can be accessed remotely via a smartphone app to help optimise uptime, safety and security. It also includes features like over-the-air software updates and access to vehicle monitoring. Useful vehicle information including fuel levels, mileage and remote door-locking can also be checked and carried out through the app.

Read our Mercedes-Benz Citan review

Power comes from a 1.5-litre diesel engine producing 95 hp and 260 Nm of torque. Fuel economy has also officially been tested with a claimed 54.3mpg possible according to the WLTP test cycle.

There are short and long wheelbase models called L1 and L2, the latter of which will be available later in 2023 after the February deliveries begin. The two trim levels are called Progressive and Premium.

Entry-level prices start at £21,310 for a Citan 110 Progressive L1. The Citan 110 Progressive L2 will cost £22,635. Stepping up to the Premium trim raising the price to £23,285 for a Citan 110 Premium L1. The Citan 110 Premium L2 will cost £24,610. All models come with a six-speed manual as standard. The option of the seven-speed automatic transmission with Keyless Go adds an additional £1825. All prices are excluding VAT.

The Citan will also be electrified later in its life and called the Mercedes-Benz eCitan. There is a passenger car variant of the Citan van called the Mercedes-Benz T-Class. The T-Class also gets its own electric model which will be called the Mercedes-Benz EQT.  

The Ford Transit Custom has ended the year as the best-selling vehicle of 2022.

Not content with taking the honour of the most purchased van, the Transit Custom tops the list ahead of all passenger car models too.

With a total of 42,762 sales throughout 2022 the Ford Transit Custom narrowly beat the Nissan Qashqai which was the best-selling car of 2022 with 42,704.

The Ford Transit Custom is the best-selling vehicle in the UK for 2022 but also the second year running having also beaten all passenger car models the previous year. Amazingly, Transit Custom vans account for a third of all van sales while its larger sibling the Ford Transit came in second with 33,203 registrations during the year.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was the third most popular commercial vehicle in 2022 with 17,034 sales ahead of the Vauxhall Vivaro (16,830). The Ford Ranger pick-up came in fifth on the list, comfortably making it the most in-demand commercial 4x4, with 16,827 sales and a market share of more than 65%.

The remainder of the top ten is filled with familiar names including the Volkswagen Transporter, Ford Transit Connect, Peugeot Expert, Renault Trafic and Volkswagen Crafter.

Diesel engines were the dominant powertrain of choice for vans and other commercial vehicles in 2022 with 91.9% of all sales being diesel vans. Electric vans accounted for 5.9%, a slight increase on the previous year where 3.6% were battery electric vehicles. However, the overall market for light commercial vehicles declined from 355,380 registrations in 2021 to 282,139 in 2022 – a drop of 20.6%.

As a result the percentage change is far greater with 31.2% more BEV vehicles being registered in 2022 than in 2021 and 23.1% fewer diesel vehicles.

With such dramatic declines in sales it is not surprising that all segments of the LCV sector saw large drops in sales.

Sales of vans under 2-tonnes were down 56.1% with just 7,805 registrations while 2-tonne to 2.5-tonne registrations were down 31% with 32,501 units. The far larger 2.5-tonne to 3.5-tonne category which includes the majority of medium vans and all large vans was down a more moderate 14.4% with 208,728 registrations.

The pick-up truck market which has for many years seen more than 50,000 units sold in a single year was down 30.4% with 29,564 registrations.

Best-selling vehicle of 22 with new LCV registrations table for pick-ups and vans
Top ten best selling vans of 2022
YTD sales for 2022 from SMMT
Best selling vans and passenger cars in UK 2022
Full year sales 2022 car & van

There has been an huge jump in the number of small electric vans being brought to market in 2022 and with technology moving so quickly it’s hard to keep up.

Buyers are understandably wary of committing to new technologies and their capabilities can vary widely.

Van Reviewer is here to make it easier for you, though, with a round-up of the best small electric vans in 2022. Despite out focus being on the best small electric vans of 2022, they do still come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, there’s also cheap and cheerful to proper premium passenger car-based electric vans and hybrids too.

Read all electric van reviews here

We rank them in order of what we like best, but to be honest they’re all really good – so check out our little verdict on each.

We'll start off with our second choice on the list....

2. Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo - best small electric vans 2022 runner-up

Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo against a blue and purple background

The Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo is a brand-new electric van that takes its inspiration from the classic Volkswagen Type 2 campervan.

It sits between the Volkswagen Caddy and the Volkswagen Transporter T6.1 in the Volkswagen range in terms of its size and is built on Volkswagen’s shared MEB electric drivetrain platform. Despite being a van, with a load volume of up to 3.9m3 and 650kg, the ID Buzz Cargo actually borrows many of its features from Volkswagen’s passenger car models including the Volkswagen ID.3 and the Volkswagen ID.4 passenger cars.

A 150kW motor powers the van, producing 310Nm of torque in the process. There is currently just one battery option, a 82kWh unit providing a claimed range of up to 256 miles. Charging from 5% to 80% can be done in less than 30 minutes thanks to a maximum charge rate of up to 170kW on a DC charger.

For those needing more payload, a smaller battery pack size is likely to be added to the line-up reducing range but pushing capacity to around 750kg.

Two trim levels are available, Commerce and Commerce Plus, with entry-level models receiving a high level of equipment including LED headlight, a heated driver’s seat, front and rear parking sensors, 10” touchscreen and wireless App-Connect for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Commerce Plus models get Adaptive Cruise Control, keyless entry, Park Assist Plus with memory function which allows you to effectively record difficult parking manoeuvres to be automatically repeated. There are also safety features including driver assistance systems like Travel Assist, Lane Assist, Side Assist and Emergency Assist.

Prices start from £38,125 and includes three services and an MoT.

VERDICT: The Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo’s biggest problem is its price but if you can get over that it is a brilliantly trendy, practical and accomplished van. It’s really a passenger car at heart, but unlike so many where the seats are removed and some blacked out windows added, the ID Buzz Cargo has been co-developed as one so it gets the best of both worlds. Loads of smart tech, super-fast charging, and reasonably good at both volume and payload. It's very nearly the best small electric van of 2022.

3. Citroen e-Berlingo / Peugeot e-Partner / Toyota Proace City / Vauxhall Combo-e

Peugeot e-Partner on a black bacground plugged into a charging post

The city vans of Citroen, Peugeot, Toyota and Vauxhall have taken the successful underpinnings of the medium-sized electric van from Stellantis and applied it to the compact packaging of their small van range.

Built in France for Stellantis siblings Citroen, Peugeot and Vauxhall and also produced on behalf of Toyota, the van leads the small van sector with a 171 mile range from a 50kWh battery pack and is paired to a 100kW (136bhp) motor producing 260Nm of torque. Despite being small, the vans offer a load capacity of 4.4m3 thanks to a load-through bulkhead with folding passenger seat which extends the 3.3m3 and 3.9m3 capacities of the standard and long wheelbase vans.

The four vans can also have a very respectable payload of up to 800kg and have a towing capacity of 750kg. For added versatility, they can be specified with a E-Power take off system to power conversions such as fridge units. Charging can be carried out using 100kW charger, taking the battery from zero to 80% in 30 minutes.

The van’s comfortable cabin is focused around the driver with an angled 8in infotainment and navigation touchscreen, and includes several premium features like wireless phone charging and a Surround Rear View system giving a 360-degree view around the van. In total there are 18 driver assistance systems designed to make the van safer for both drivers and other road users.

Prices start from around £27,000 depending on the brand.

VERDICT: These small vans have been on sale for more than a year, coming to market in the autumn of 2021 but they still manage to deliver what the electric audience needs. They’ve not been left behind by the changes in technology either, with powerful motors, decent battery range and the option of both standard and high specification models.

If you want a decent all-rounder these three make a good bet, and the Toyota even comes with a longer warranty.

4. Toyota Corolla Commercial Hybrid

Toyota Corolla Commercial Hybrid in motion with blurred tree behind

It’s been years since the Astravan disappeared from sale but the Toyota Corolla Commercial Hybrid van more than makes up for the shortfall.

Based on the Corolla Touring Sports estate passenger car, it is a full self-charging hybrid electric van. It looks, feels and drives like a car, but has a healthy 1.3m3 loadspace area in place of the rear seats.

Power comes from a 1.8-litre petrol engine and is paired to a 53kW electric motor, together the petrol hybrid Corolla Commercial produces up to 90kW (120bhp) and 142Nm of torque.

It’s the only engine choice and there’s also only one trim level but the interior is far from your typically commercial vehicle.

The Corolla Commercial gets a decent level of equipment including heated seats, dual-zone climate control and a reversing camera. There’s also LED headlights as standard. When it comes to safety, the Corolla Commercial Hybrid isn’t short on features. It gets adaptive cruise control, high beam assist headlights and lane keep assist as standard. Lane Trace Assist also helps to keep the van in the centre of the lane even while turning slight bends, and there’s Road Sign Assist to remind you of the speed limits with an audible or visual warning.

In the rear, the loadspace floor gets a rubber lining and there is a full-height steel bulkhead to protect the front seat occupants. There’s also an interior light and a 12v power outlet but the important figure is the 425kg payload and 750kg towing capacity.

Prices start from £22,149, excluding VAT.

VERDICT: A self-charging hybrid has managed to sneak into our best small electric vans of 2022 review but with good reason. That’s because the Toyota Corolla Commercial Hybrid is one hell of a package.

It’s a car to van conversion like any other with some questionable sticky window coverings but average fuel consumptions knocking on the door of 60mpg in the real world can’t be sniffed at.

It doesn’t suit everyone, but it brings back a niche segment and adds an electric spin to it. We’re grateful for the effort.

5. Maxus e Deliver 3

Maxus e Deliver 3 on a white background

Arguably the first electric van to be launched that was conceived purely as an EV, the Maxus e Deliver 3 was nevertheless a big departure for Chinese-owned Maxus whose line-up had previously consisted of both diesel and electric models.

Designed from the ground-up as a pure electric van with a heavy focus on its aerodynamic performance, the e Deliver 3 has a claimed range of up to 213 miles for its WLTP city range and 151 miles for the combined WLTP standard. It has the option of two battery packs with either 35kWh or 50kWh cells and is paired to a 90KW motor producing 255Nm of torque.

It can carry up to 945kg of payload and despite only being available in a short wheelbase has a volume of 4.8m3. It is the smaller sibling to the large electric van Maxus E Deliver 9 and Maxus E Deliver 7.

Charging times using a DC rapid charger will see the battery level go from 5% to 80% in just 45 minutes, while a three-phase 11kW AC charge will take around five hours.

Standard features include air conditioning, built-in Sat Nav, smartphone mirroring with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as well as USB and Bluetooth connectivity.

Operators can also have the e Deliver 3 as a chassis cab and can get real-time telematic data through a partnership with Geotab.

Its most appealing feature, however, is its price with models starting from just £27,000 with a government grant.

VERDICT: We’d love to put the e Deliver 3 much higher in our list of the best small electric vans you can buy in 2022 but it’s not quite the complete package. The battery range is impressive, and there’s adequate power from the motor, but its all the bits and piece in the cabin that let it down. An infotainment system that is frustrating (when it works) and a other little software gremlins too.

Launched in 2020 it fills a natural hole left by the Nissan eNV200 which is definitely a good thing, but it can’t match the finesse of the newer models.

6. DFSK EC35

DFSK EC35 in white being driven on the road

Chinese-made DFSK vans have made a comeback in the UK through importer Innovation Automotive with the quirky midi-van offering a cheap entry-level price to electric van ownership.

The DFSK EC35 looks like a typical Japanese-style microvan with high sides and a narrow width of just 1680mm. It’s unusual proportion don’t mean it is lacking in space with a maximum loadspace volume of 4.8m3 and an equally impressive payload capacity of 1,015kg thanks to its lightweight 1585kg kerbweight. It has a hinged rear tailgate and gets twin sliding doors as standard.

Power comes from a 60kW (80bhp) motor paired to a 39kWh lithium-ion battery with 200Nm of torque. While options are few and far between, one thing you can choose is the maximum speed limit of the van, with a 50mph limited model or a faster 62mph van. Depending on which version you choose will dictate how far you might be able to travel with a claimed range of 101 miles or 166 miles, according to the WLTP testing cycle, for the slow and fast versions respectively. The DFSK EC35 is able to be charged at a maximum rate of 40kW with the battery level going from zero to 80% in around 60 minutes. Topping up the battery to 100% on a 40kW charger will take 90 minutes, while charging from a 7kW wall box will take 6 hours.

Prices start from £20,999 excluding VAT.

VERDICT: Being entirely honest with you, the DFSK is only on the list out of courtesy. It’s not a particularly good van.

But, it will certainly do the job for the right sort of person. If you need to move things around at a walking pace, don’t want to go all that far or need to charge up that often it might just be the van for you.

If you spend more time out of the van than in it, then give it a chance. The price tag is too good not to consider it.

Best small electric vans 2022 winner

1. Renault Kangoo E-Tech / Mercedes-Benz eCitan / Nissan Townstar Electric

Renault Kangoo E-Tech next to a loading bay is the best small electric van 2022 to buy

The Renault Kangoo is the oldest and most established name in the small electric van field but the latest version shares only its name with the trailblazer model launched in 2012.

The latest van returns with a new E-Tech name to reflect the rest of the electrified Renault models and is accompanied by two cousins with versions from Mercedes-Benz and Nissan. The three models offer a different take on the electric city van, with Mercedes opting for a more upmarket interior and more standard safety systems than the Renault, while Nissan plays off its warranty support and value.

All three vans, however, use the same 90kW motor paired to a 45kWh battery pack. Range for the vans is 186 miles, while charging can be carried out using an 80kW supply to add more than 100 miles in less than 30 minutes. Slower 22kW charging is also possible as well as a from domestic single-phase 7kW supply though a wallbox which is said to take six hours.

The van is available in two wheelbase lengths with the standard van having a 3.9m3 load volume and the long-wheelbase model up to 4.9m3 of capacity. Payload for regular vans will be up to 600kg but thanks to a higher gross vehicle weight the larger models can transport up to 800kg. They also have a 1,500kg towing capacity.

Prices start at around £30,000 for the Nissan version.

VERDICT: The diesel Renault Kangoo and Mercedes-Benz Citan are both excellent vans, and while the Nissan Townstar Electric is only available as a petrol model, the real strength of these models is the electric version.

Quiet, comfortable and way bigger than the previous generation vans, the Kangoo E-Tech, eCitan and Townstar electric really are the best small electric vans of 2022.

Conclusion - The best small electric vans 2022

In summary, there's a large amount of choice in the small van market at the moment, and there's bound to be more with a Ford E-Transit Connect likely to be added to Ford's electric van range.

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