First Drive: Nissan e-NV200
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.
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
Segment: Small van
Type: Battery electric vehicle
Electric range: 100 miles
CO2 emissions (tailpipe): 0g/km
Charging Port: J1772 AC & CHAdeMo DC