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.
Since its inception in 1997, the Kangoo has been a trailblazer in the leisure-activity vehicle segment, renowned for its unique design and innovative sliding side door.
Now available in 50 countries across the globe, the Renault Kangoo has achieved a staggering sales milestone, surpassing 4.4 million units, with an impressive 4 million units produced at the Maubeuge facility.
Additionally, the vehicle has left its mark on the South American market for 25 years, with production in Argentina. The Kangoo is a dominant force in the electric vehicle market with the Kangoo E-Tech and previously the Renault Kangoo ZE, having sold over 100,000 units in Europe since 2011.
Over the years, the Kangoo family has evolved, expanding its appeal to a diverse range of customers. From family use to passenger transport, the Kangoo offers a comfortable ride with its independent, modular seating and spacious interior. The Grand Kangoo version gets seven modular seats, providing an impressive 1,024 different configurations.
The Maubeuge plant is responsible for producing all members of the Kangoo family, both internal combustion and 100% electric versions, with batteries assembled on-site.
La Poste: A Historic Partnership Reaches a Milestone
On Thursday, December 14, 2023, the keys of the 4 millionth Renault Kangoo E-Tech electric car were presented to long-time Kangoo customer, La Poste.
La Poste, a historic customer of Renault for over a century, has been using Renault vans for the delivery of postmail and parcels to the French people. A pioneer in electric mobility since 1904, La Poste stands as a world leader for its all-electric fleets, with an extensive history of partnership with Renault.
Having joined the Renault Express electric program in the 1980s, La Poste currently operates the largest fleet of electric vehicles, primarily with Kangoo Z.E.
The partnership has been crucial in establishing Renault as a pioneer and leader in the electric vehicle field. The iconic yellow color of Renault Kangoo, used by La Poste for delivering letters and parcels, has even become a symbol in Japan, where the vehicle is particularly popular. A limited edition "La Poste" was sold in Japan in 2015, further solidifying the global impact of this enduring partnership.
Renault has revealed its brand-new Master van with diesel and electric powertrains.
The Renault Master has been completely redesigned in order to improve the aerodynamics of the vehicle as well as provide more space for electrification and the future implementation of a hydrogen fuel cell system.
A new front-end design, sees the Renault Master’s bonnet height increase and the van getting a more upright grille with enlarged headlights. At the rear, the top portion of the van has been made narrower to improve aerodynamics, while the light cluster mimics the front’s C-shape design.
Power comes from a choice of four diesel dCi powertrains, delivering 105hp, 130hp, 150hp or 170hp outputs. Renault also says they consume significantly less fuel than the previous engine which could equate to as much as 4mpg with a CO2 saving of 39g/km. There’s a six-speed manual gearbox or a new 9-speed automatic.
The new chassis has been developed for multiple powertrains, including hydrogen, but will launch with a full-electric model available with two differing electric motor powers of 96kW or 105kW, both of which produce 300Nm of torque. There are also two battery options, a 40kWh battery with a 180 km WLTP range, or an 87kWh battery with more than 410km of range.
The new electric Renault Master gets a payload capacity of up to 1,625 kg thanks to a 4.25-tonne gross vehicle weight, and can also tow up to 2.5 tonnes.
It is equipped with a 130 kW DC fast charger that can add up to 229 km of range in just 30 minutes. A regular 22 kW AC home charger will top up the battery from 10% to 100% in just under 4 hours.
Deliveries will begin in spring 2024, with pricing revealed closer to the time.
A new mid-sized van has been added to the range of electric vehicles with the introduction of the Renault Trucks E-Tech Trafic.
The Renault Trucks E-Tech Trafic will go on sale in October adding to the line-up of fully electric vehicles already in the Renault Trucks range that spans 650 kg to 44 tonnes. It is the same model sold through Renault car dealers where it is called the Renault Trafic E-Tech and is the medium-sized model between the Renault Kangoo E-Tech and the Renault Master E-Tech.
The E-Tech Trafic will be available in a range of configurations including three panel van versions with two lengths and two heights giving customers access to L1H1, L2H1 and L2H2 sizes. There are also two crew van versions (L1H1 and L2H1) and a platform cab model to allow operators to fit a range of bespoke bodies.
As a panel van, the Renault Trucks E-Tech Trafic has a load volume of 5.8m3 to 8.9m3 and a load length of up to 4.15m.
Power comes from a new 90kW (120hp) electric motor powered by a 52kWh battery with a claimed range of up to 297km (185 miles) according to the WLTP combined cycle. It also claimed to have one of the best electric energy consumption figures on the market at 18.7kWh
The Renault Trucks E-Tech Trafic also comes with an eight-year battery warranty and two years warranty for the rest of the van. Renault Trucks customers also get the benefit of the HGV network which includes a growing number of dedicated LCV centres with quick appointments and extended opening hours – including Saturdays.
The Renault Trucks E-Tech Trafic will be available in France, the UK, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Germany. It joins the Renault Trucks E-Tech T and C at up to 44 tonnes, Renault Trucks E-Tech D, D Wide and D Wide LEC (16-, 18- and 26-tonnes), Renault Trucks E-Tech Master (3.1- and 3.5-tonnes) and a range of cargo bikes at 650kg.
Technical specifications: Renault Trucks E-Tech Trafic
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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%.
Renault has achieved a 6.4% market share in Europe, with 832,605 units sold in 2022, showing progress in high-value areas such as electrified vehicles, C-segment, retail market, and LCV business. Renault is now the third-leading electrified brand in Europe, with 228,000 vehicles sold in the PC market, representing a 12% increase from 2021. The E-Tech range, which includes BEV and hybrid powertrains, now makes up 39% of Renault passenger cars sales in Europe, while the market average is 31%.
Renault has achieved its retail target, with more than half of its vehicles sold to private customers, and the retail mix rose by 8% vs 2021 to reach 51%, which is 7% above the market average. Renault's C-segment sales are growing by 21%, with more than 200,000 registrations, and Renault Arkana is a success, with 80,000 sales in 2022, double the sales from 2021. In the European LCV market, Renault ranks second with a stable 14.4% market share, and it completed its LCV range with new Renault Kangoo E-Tech and Renault Master E-Tech electric vans. Renault was behind Ford who achieved a 15% market share, cementing their top position for the eighth year running.
Renault's sales volumes outside of Europe are stable at 634,124 units, and the share of sales outside Europe reaches 43.2% of total brand sales. Turkey becomes Renault's fourth market, with a volume of 99,639 vehicles sold, a 22.6% increase from 2021, and a market share up 1.7% at 12.7%. In Morocco, sales volumes rose by 11.4% to 26,385 vehicles, and market share reached a record for the last 10 years with 16.3% (+2.9%). In Latin America, Renault outperforms with 283,116 sales, representing an 8% increase from 2021.
Renault's Chief Operating Officer, Fabrice Cambolive, states that the team has delivered on their key priorities in 2022, with a focus on the growing electrified market, C-segment, and retail market. The E-Tech range meets customers' expectations, making Renault the third brand in Europe on the electrified market. In 2023, Renault's growth will be driven by their unique E-Tech range, a full year of sales of Megane E-Tech electric and New Austral E-Tech, as well as four important launches with high-quality vehicles.
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%.
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.
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.
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....
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nissan has radically altered its naming policy for its light commercial vehicles van range, ditching its NV plus number names in favour of some previously used favourites.
The Nissan NV400 becomes the Nissan Interstar.
Nissan NV300 becomes the Nissan Primastar.
The Nissan NV250 becomes the Nissan Townstar.
The change is a return of the Interstar and Primastar names which were once used to denote the large and medium vans. The new Nissan Townstar will also be available as both an electric and petrol engine van.
All three models are based on vans from the Renault-Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance. That sees all three brands share platforms and technology.
The large-sized Nissan Interstar is based on the Renault Master.
The medium-sized Nissan Primastar is based on the Renault Trafic.
The compact city van Nissan Townstar is based on the Renault Kangoo.
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Despite the Nissan Townstar being a replacement for the Nissan NV250, it is also a a replacement for the Nissan eNV200. Nissan dropped the diesel variant of the NV200 in 2020 but kept the electric Nissan eNV200. The diesel van to follow the NV200 was named the NV250 and was based on the previous generation Renault Kangoo.
The new naming strategy sees more sense returned to the range. The eNV200 name is laid to rest, and an electric Townstar van brought in to the Nissan range to replace it.
The Nissan Townstar is built in Renault’s Maubeuge plant – about three hours from Paris close to the Belgium borde. Townstar is assembled alongside the Renault Kangoo and Mercedes-Benz Citan and built under licence by the French for both parties.
Nissan Primastar is built at the Renault Sandouville plant. The plant is near the French city of Le Harve.
The Nissan Interstar large van is built at Renault's Batilly plant near Metz, and close to the border with Luxembourg and Germany.
Nissan is also continuing to differentiate its LCV van range and retains its 5-year warranty for vans. All models in the line-up will get the extended cover.