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First Drive: Nissan e-NV200

By / 3 years ago / New Cars / No Comments

Indeed, with 187lb/ft of torque on tap from a standstill, the electric van is actually quicker to 60mph than its 1.5dCi counterpart and more agile around town too.

Rather than joining forces with Alliance partner Renault and sharing an electric drivetrain with Kangoo Z.E., Nissan has instead opted to use the driveline from its successful Leaf electric car in e-NV200, along with much of the car’s front suspension.

The 48 lithium ion battery modules are mounted below the load floor, retaining the NV200’s 4.2m3 load volume and helping to reduce the van’s centre of gravity. The batteries weigh in at 267.5kg, yet Nissan has managed to stay close to the diesel van’s capacity, offering a competitive 703kg payload.

The official range is around 106 miles, though realistically that’s probably more like around 80 miles. Nissan admits the e-NV200 won’t suit every operation, but the company is confident that it could work for up to 35% of the market at this weight class, offering serious running cost savings.

The batteries take up to eight hours to recharge on a domestic 16A charger. This can be reduced to just four hours with the optional 6.6kW/32A charger that comes as part of the Acenta Rapid Plus and Tekna Rapid Plus trim levels. A dedicated CHAdeMO DC 50W quick charger can also provide up to 80% of charge in just 30 minutes, for example while the van is being loaded or during a lunch break period.

In March 2013 there were just 60 CHAdeMO rapid chargers in the UK, but this has risen to 223 this year and Nissan claims there will be more than 500 by March 2015. It’s a similar story with regular charging stations, with 752 available in the UK in 2008, rising to more than 5,731 by June 2014.

Actual running cost savings will depend on how much you pay for your electricity, but Nissan claims the e-NV200 should be around four times cheaper to fuel than the diesel van at around 2p/mile. The savings don’t stop there however, as repair and maintenance bills could be 40% lower than the dCi model, thanks in part to no requirement to change oils, belts or clutches. For operators running inside the London Congestion Zone, the e-NV200 is also road tax and London Congestion Charge free.

You can opt to buy both van and batteries, or purchase the van and lease the power pack, with prices starting at just £13,395 after the Plug-in Van Grant for a basic model without batteries. Monthly battery rental starts at £61 per month.

For the driver the e-NV200 is easy to operate, with a simple automatic transmission lever offering push-and-go driving. There is a B position on the lever for added regenerative braking, to extend the van’s range, and an Eco button on the dash alters the throttle mapping for smoother acceleration and cuts the air-conditioning performance to further conserve power.

The electric air-con system can be preset remotely through the CarWings smartphone app, which also allows managers to monitor the battery state of charge. Heated seats, auto lights and wipers, a rear camera, Bluetooth and cruise control are optional.

Verdict:

With some cities looking to reduce or ban diesel vans, the popularity of electric LCVs is set to grow. The e-NV200 could also deliver major savings.

Specification:

Segment: Light van

Type: Battery electric vehicle

Price: £13,393-£21,305 (including Plug-in Van Grant) 

Fuel: N/A

Electric range: 106 miles

CO2 emissions (tailpipe): 0g/km

Charging port: J1772 AC & CHAdeMo DC

First Drive: Nissan e-NV200

By / 5 years ago / New Cars / No Comments

The van’s drivetrain is based on the LEAF’s, with a 105bhp electric motor generating 207lb.ft of torque. Interestingly, the lithium-ion batteries will also be able to use the stored energy to power equipment, making the vehicle ideal for use as a mobile workshop or catering vehicle. Production is scheduled to start next year at Nissan’s Barcelona plant. The van is expected to carry a small price premium over the diesel versions.

Externally, the vehicle is very similar to the standard NV200, with sliding doors on both sides and a 60/40 split rear entrance. The most obvious difference between the siblings is at the front end, where the upper grille is replaced by plastic panels. The blue-tinted Nissan badge hides the charging socket, as it does on the Leaf.  

Anyone familiar with Nissan’s pioneering EV car will recognise much of the cabin switchgear. The central screen, bow tie-style layout of the ventilation controls and circular gear shifter have all been carried over. Above the screen is a smaller display with digital speedo, external temperature and eco-meter for how well the vehicle is being driven. Behind the steering wheel the instruments include a power meter and remaining charge read-out, plus the odo and trip. 

The floor-mounted handbrake is adjacent to a flat tray between the two seats for convenient storage. Additional practicality comes from the narrow but deep door bins and slots either sides of the screen, which could hold smaller items. 

Behind the seats is a metal mesh bulkhead. The prototype van featured a wider section at the base, which won’t be on the production vehicle. Load volume will be identical to NV200, with a 2,040mm length, 1,358mm height and 1,500mm width. Maximum volume is 4.2m3 allowing it to carry two Euro pallets, and payload limit is 752kg. 

Tomoyuki Nakano, manager of the e-NV200 programme, explained: ‘This is a test vehicle and the final production may be slightly different. For example, the interior and instrumentation is still being designed. Feedback from vehicles on trial with FedEx, Japan Postal Service and other companies – including some in London – will help us decide.” The final version is expected to be around 50kg heavier than the standard van. 

When empty the van is expected to offer drivers a range of up to 100 miles between charges. However, when loaded that’s expected to reduce by 10-20%. The drive event took place on a Nissan test track near Tokyo, so no long distance evaluation of that was possible. 

Starting the e-NV200 is via a button on the centre console. Chimes indicate it’s ready for use. Moving the gear selector right and down for Drive, there’s an audible whine which gets louder as road speed increases. Riding on 175/70R14 tyres, acceleration is smooth and brisk. It feels nimble through tight turns and holds the road well through longer, faster bends. 

Nissan’s belief is that users will charge the van overnight, giving them enough battery life for a morning’s work. A fast charge will power it to 80% capacity in 30 minutes, allowing drivers to get back on the road in the afternoon.

Verdict:

NV200 was always going to have an electric option and the ready-made Leaf powertrain is an obvious choice. Rising fuel prices might make it more attractive by 2014.

By: Richard Yarrow

Spec:

Segment: Small van

Type: Battery electric vehicle 

Price: £TBA

Fuel: N/A

Electric range: 100 miles

CO2 emissions (tailpipe): 0g/km 

Charging Port: J1772 AC & CHAdeMo DC

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