Nissan's e-NV200 offers the cleanliness and cost-effectiveness of pure electric power to urban van users. Jonathan Crouch reports.
There are some commercial vehicles that make all the sense in the world. Put Nissan's e-NV200 firmly in that category. The market for compact vans has taken off in the last few years and if you're going to be covering fairly low mileages in places where emissions are an issue, electric power makes all the right numbers.
Given that Nissan's experience with the LEAF has armed it with a huge amount of experience in electric vehicle development, it's hardly surprising that the e-NV200 campaigns in the market without the huge burden of uncertainty that surrounds so many EV vans. If you want a small LCV that lacks an internal combustion engine, don't worry. Nissan has got this.
The 1.5-litre diesel engine of the original NV200 is ditched in this instance for an 80kW AC synchronous motor, which is fully integrated with the battery charger and inverter in one compact, self-contained unit. There's MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear, and the Lithium-ion battery has been designed to fit under the cargo floor without impinging on available space. This battery pack is 40kWh in size and is packaged very efficiently. This battery assembly also helps boost the torsional and lateral stiffness of the vehicle by 20 percent and 35 per cent respectively over the old conventionally-engined NV200 and helps reduce the centre of gravity. This also aids ride and handling, while the instant torque delivery is perfect for stop and start city driving. It's quicker than the old diesel version of this model to 62mph too, eventually running out of amps at 75mph.
The tall panel van shape of the NV200 gives rise to an upright seating position that will help drivers who are forever clambering in and out of their vehicle during the working day. The dash-mounted gear lever features a simplified look and feel - shifting like a conventional automatic rather than the computer-style joystick of LEAF - to help drivers regularly moving from internal combustion-engined vans into the e-NV200 acclimatise more quickly. The steering column adjusts for rake but not reach but it shouldn't be difficult to find a decent driving position. Good visibility and an ultra-tight turning circle also help urban drivers.
Design and Build
One thing's for sure. You're probably not going to mistake the e-NV200 for the more conventionally-powered diesel sibling it replaced. This electric version has a very different front end which adopts the styling cues of the Nissan EV "face" that will be familiar to LEAF drivers, with a central charging door and blue-tinted LED headlights. Arrow-like positioning lamps sit within the crescent-shaped headlamps and glow a distinctive ice blue light colour. LED bulbs are used in the rear lights of all versions as well as at the front on passenger models. The blue theme extends to the e-NV200's badging.
Inside, there's an instrument panel with a digital read out. Digital information includes readouts for vehicle speed, state of charge and vehicle range, while a power meter shows the state of motor output/regeneration. The instrument panel is completed by a multi-function display that provides other time, distance and speed information. The van features a cargo area of 4.2 cubic metres, can accommodate two standard Euro pallets, while sliding side doors on both sides and wide opening rear doors ease loading. There's 2.8m of loading length (enough for a long ladder) and an optional folding mesh partition wall if you need more. There's 1.36m of load area height and 1.22m of width between the wheel arches. Alternatively, Nissan also sells an enlarged 'XL' van variant. Or five or seven-seat passenger-carrying Combi model.
Market and Model
Pricing starts at around £20,000 (after deduction of the government plug-in grant) and there are three trim levels - 'Visia', 'Acenta' and Tekna'. It's also possible to order an enlarged XL version of this model with an 8m3 load capacity. An optional 'Glazing Pack' is available that adds a full steel bulkhead with an integrated window, plus glazed rear doors, a heated rear screen and rear wipers.
This van in mid-range 'Acenta' trim includes equipment like electrically adjustable door mirrors, a Rapid charge port, a battery cooler and heater, cruise control, a speed limiter, a colour reversing camera and auto air conditioning. Top 'Tekna' trim adds auto headlights, auto wipers and navigation. Options across the range include a mesh partition wall (that's folding with base 'Visia' spec). And there's an optional 'Heat Pack' that gives you heat for the seats, steering wheel and mirrors.
Practicalities and Costs
The Lithium-ion battery has been designed to fit under the cargo floor without impinging on the 4.2 cubic metres of available space. With 4.2m?? of load space there is enough room for 2 Euro Pallets or 705kg of cargo. It's also easily accessible with wide opening 60:40 split rear doors and sliding side panel doors. The maximum payload is up to 705kgs and the van can tow up to 410kgs. There's also the option of a larger 'XL' body shape with up to 8m3 of load capacity.
Nissan reckons e-NV200 drivers who use their vehicles for four years and cover approaching 10,000 miles per year will benefit from £2,500 of fuel savings over running a directly comparable diesel model, with the vehicle costing 2 pence per mile, while maintenance costs will be reduced by £575 based on servicing, parts and wear and tear. In addition, those that opt for the e-NV200 will pay no road tax and will be exempt from the London Congestion Charge. The e-NV200's homologated WLTP driving range is 124 miles - or up to 187 miles on the WLTP city cycle.
There are 3 ways to charge your Nissan e-NV200 Combi. Using a public rapid charger, you can charge from 20% to 80% in just 40-60 minutes. If you fast charge at home using a wall box, you can reach full charge in seven and a half hours. If you recharge using a domestic plug, it'll take a lengthy twenty one and a half hours.
The Nissan e-NV200 is a van that just seems to work on so many levels. Punching out a bunch of diesel particulates in congested urban areas doesn't seem the smartest thing to do and this electric LCV demonstrates without ambiguity that there is a better way. With no tailpipe emissions and a power delivery that's ideally suited to short-run stop and start driving, here's a van that says all the right things about ethical and responsible city commerce.
The financial package that Nissan has put together doesn't look too terrifying either. We crunched the numbers and still reckon that a rival diesel van will work out a little cheaper but there's not a lot in it and factor congestion charges into the equation and the e-NV200 is a no-brainer. Even if you're one of the lucky ones who doesn't have to endure the city grind, here's one van that seems perfectly attuned to urban living.