WHAT IS IT?
An electric van, and a pretty good one at that with practical load space and a good range. The Citroen e-Dispatch can go a long way to allaying the fears of around one third of van drivers who say they are unlikely to consider switching to an electric.
A survey carried out by Vansdirect last year found that 31% of respondents are ‘not likely’ to make the change with only 18% saying they were ‘highly likely’ to buy an electric van.
The research also revealed that:
- Only 18% of respondents think it’s essential to test drive a new van
- 80% cited price as the main factor when choosing a van supplier
- Just under half were interested in all-inclusive servicing and maintenance packages
- 40% of van owners saw their vehicle as ‘a tool to help me earn money’
- 30% of owners with up to four vans believed that ‘it’s essential to reflect my business in the best possible light.’
However, demand is also likely to be driven by the introduction of more clean air zones, such as those in Bath, Birmingham and soon to be Portsmouth. Vehicles which do not meet emissions standards could well be subject to charges to drive in these areas.
The Citroen e-Dispatch is the electric version of Citroen’s medium-sized panel van and has a range of 211-miles when fitted with the larger 75kWh battery option or 143 miles for the smaller 50kWh battery. It uses the same technology as the Vauxhall Vivaro-e, Peugeot e-Expert and the Toyota Proace Electric. Its 134bhp electric motor provides plenty of torque for carrying heavy loads while performance is good as well.
Like the normal Dispatch panel van, the electric model comes in XS, M and XL versions which relates to carrying capacities of 4.6 cubic metres, then 5.3 and 6.1 cubic metres respectively. The batteries are all stored under the floor, which is just as flat as in the normal van.
The main difference with the electric Dispatch is Citroen is that load space is reduced and its one-tonne maximum payload, around 200kg less than the diesel version. The cargo is easy to get at, though, with twin side doors as well as those at the rear.
- Entry-level model is Enterprise Pro, which is available in the full range of XS, M and XL body lengths. In the cab there’s a dual passenger bench with a folding outer seat and a fold-down writing table on the back of in the centre seat. A load-through flap in the bulkhead enables extra-long items to be transported.
On-board techincludes rear parking sensors, automatic lights and windscreen wipers, a seven-inch colour touchscreen with Bluetooth, digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Driver Pro spec is available with the M body, and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, body-coloured front and rear bumpers, metallic paint, LED daytime running lights, front and rear parking sensors, a 180-degree rear parking camera, sat nav, a head-up display and a safety pack.
WHAT DO WE THINK?
UNTIL recently, electric LCVs (e-LCVs) were considered somewhat of a fantasy. Batteries weren’t powerful enough – and were too big and cumbersome – to allow for proper cargo transportation.
But manufacturers have since cracked those problems. Advancements in battery technology have made electric LCVs just as viable as electric cars, and as such, there’s a growing number of models available. Then there’s the financial incentives: a 0% Benefit-in-Kind tax on zero emission, fully electric vans, making e-LCVs more affordable than ever for those businesses who allow private use of vans.
Then why, with a greater choice of vehicles and cost savings, are they still not on a parallel trajectory with EVs? Some experts would even argue that they’re four to five years behind.
What’s more, the need for greener vans has never been greater. We live in an age of increasing home deliveries, where consumers want products now, not tomorrow. LeasePlan’s Mobility Insights Report found that 47% of people are now more likely to use online shopping and opt for home delivery for discretionary spending. This means more LCVs on the road, more stops, and more journeys to and from the depot. Naturally, all of this will have an impact on local air quality.
But meeting recent booming demand for online shopping and delivery services doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing air quality in our towns and cities. That’s according to our latest LCV report, which found that e-LCVs have, as a matter of fact, come a long way to meet that demand.
There are three main trends that have influenced this uptake: low emission zones, local and sustainable city hubs alongside the increase in last mile delivery, and digital applications helping to create a more optimised delivery process through telematics.
Yet, there is still a long way to go in making e-LCVs the default option. There is a need for a catalyst that pushes eLCVs over the tipping point.
Range anxiety continues to be a sticking point for many fleet decision makers but vans like the Citroen e-Dispatch can help alleviate that, given that 50% of all LCVs travel less than 62 miles a day on average, plus there’s a fast-growing network of over 20,000 charge points around the country.
Then there’s the perceived barrier of cost. While it’s true that e-LCVs are still comparatively expensive to their ICE equivalent from a capital cost perspective, many fleet operators find that the total cost of ownership is less. For this reason, many large fleets are already getting ahead and making the transition.
As for the e-Dispatch, businesses will most likely want to pay extra for the larger 75kWh battery, which brings greater range – 211 miles quoted is one of the longest of any electric van on the market. Our overnight charge-ups registered up to 220 miles indicated of range and then it comes down to how you use the vehicle. A full charge on a 7.5kW wall charger takes around 11 hours.
Weight is generally recognised as a battery killer, so loaded up to its maximum will have some effect, although nothing drastic according to the manufacturer. Plenty of hills around where we are and that’s another factor – you don’t always make up on the way down what you lose on the way up.
In the cab, space is reasonable, although three may be a crowd and storage facilities are not the best in class, but like all e-vans, it is quiet and therefore feels quite refined. The driving position is very comfortable and there are light, user-friendly controls.
There are three driving modes from which to select, Eco, Normal and Power. Eco mode adds around 10 miles to the range, while Power reduces it by the same amount.
If you’re in the market for a medium-size electric van, the Citroen e-Dispatch is certainly worth a look and we would particularly recommend the larger 75kWh battery.