What Car? says...
If you’ve been to London at any point over the last two years, the face of the LEVC VN5 electric van will probably be familiar to you. That’s because it’s based on the TX electric taxi, and shares that machine’s front-end design. Rather than transporting commuters and tourists around city streets, though, the VN5 is designed to haul cargo instead – and all using electric power.
Just like rivals that include the Renault Kangoo ZE, Citroen Berlingo Electric and Nissan eNV200, the VN5 runs on electric power all of the time. Unlike those vans, though,the VN5 also has an ace up its sleeve for when its battery runs out of juice. That ace is a small, 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that can act as a generator for the battery. That engine never directly powers the car’s wheels, so the VN5 is, in fact, a range-extender van, making it a unique proposition for city-based drivers.
Indeed, LEVC envisions the VN5 as being perfect for companies that are located close to major cities where clean air zones could make delivering to urban centres using a non-electric van prohibitively expensive.
And don’t go thinking that practicality has been overlooked, either; the VN5 can do everything that its conventionally-engined and electric rivals can do too, such as take two Euro pallets in its cargo bay. You can even load it from the side, thanks to its sliding door.