First Drive: Volkswagen e-Caddy Maxi
However that looks set to change. While Volkswagen was at pains to point out that it isn’t launching anything yet, and that they are purely an engineering exercise, we have tried both an e-Caddy and an e-Load Up! on the roads of Berlin. Both vans looked pretty much production ready.
The company said that we may hear more about its plans at the Hannover Commercial Vehicle Show in September, so watch this space. For now though, we’ll treat these two vans as engineering prototypes.
As with the e-Golf, the e-Caddy uses a permanent synchronous motor with a power output of 115hp and 270Nm of torque. Its Lithium-ion battery pack, which uses a VW-produced casing with cells from Panasonic, has a nominal storage capacity of 24.2kWh and requires up to 13 hours to charge. That said, 80% of charge can be achieved in 30 minutes using a fast charge facility.
Volkswagen prefers to sell the vehicle complete, rather than have a separate lease for batteries. However on the e-up! car it provides an eight year/160,000km battery warranty for customer peace of mind, so it would be fair to assume a similar level of back-up for van customers.
The e-Caddy could offer 130-190km of range, depending on operating conditions, with a 550kg payload. As the batteries are mounted beneath the existing floor, the diesel van’s load volume is unchanged with the switch to electric drive.
In the cab, the van has the familiar gearlever from a DSG automated manual model, so is driven much like a regular automatic. However, as well as the D position, for forward drive, there is also a B position (Braking), with what would be gearchange paddles behind the steering wheel activating three levels of regenerative braking.
In the basic D position, when you lift off the throttle there is no regeneration unless you also push the brake pedal, so the van will coast. The three brake positions then become increasingly more active, until in the third setting you barely need to use the foot brake at all to bring the van to a halt.
The e-Caddy has more than enough power to keep pace with urban traffic, offering quiet progress through the city streets. At least it is almost quiet, Volkswagen having equipped the van with synthetic engine noises, to warn pedestrians of its approach.
The e-Load up! is little more than a five-door compact car with the rear seats removed. However it does show that if there was demand for a more compact urban runabout, Volkswagen has one ready to go. Which is the point really. Though perhaps not shouting about it, Volkswagen is more than prepared to jump into the electric van market, if and when there is a realistic demand from that market for it to do so.
With the introduction of electric cars, VW will have established a service network for the vehicles – it just needs the market to say yes.
Volkswagen may have been keeping relatively quiet about its expertise in electric vehicles, but the company is more than prepared to supply urban van demand when it comes.
Segment: Small van
Type: Battery-electric vehicle
Price: N/A (Prototype)
Electric range: 1 mile
CO2 emissions (tailpipe): 0g/km
Charging port: Type 2 AC, Combo DC