Best electric vans 2021
The number of electric vans available to buy is growing. Which ones are the best?...
The electric motoring revolution is gathering additional pace on an almost weekly basis, prompting more manufacturers to launch electrified vans into the market in response to increasing demand, often driven by large city centres imposing more stringent clean air zones.
As new electric vans enter the market, the capability of what's on offer is increasing too. If you're unsure as to whether an electric van is the right choice for you, you can read our guide to the pros and cons of purchasing one.
While they're far from being the right choice for everyone – with most potential buyers citing stumbling blocks revolving around the high upfront cost of purchasing one, whether the real-world range they will deliver before needing charging is sufficient and the quality and frequency of the public charging infrastructure – an increasing number of buyers and businesses are making the switch.
Below, we highlight the electric vans we recommend most highly.
Best small electric vans
Currently there are more small electric vans than any other type, chiefly because of the relative ease with which the electrical architecture can be converted from passenger car powertrains and placed in commercial vehicles.
Renault and Nissan dominate the small van sector, but there are also models from Citroën and Peugeot. Other new models are expected to be launched soon from manufacturers such as Volkswagen, LDV and Ford.
4= Citroën Berlingo Electric and Peugeot Partner Electric
Apart from the badges, these two electric vans are exactly the same. Despite being based on the old-shape versions of the Berlingo and Partner, they were updated in 2017.
Their claimed range is just over 100 miles, but in the real world that figure is much closer to 70 miles – a figure that the previous generations of the Renault Kangoo ZE and Nissan eNV200 both achieved.
3 Nissan eNV200
The awkward shape of the small Nissan van has meant it has never really found its feet as the diesel NV200, but for an electric vehicle it really works to its advantage.
The eNV200 offers a large load volume in a small van – ideal for urban last-mile delivery solutions.
It also has a real-world driving range of more than 100 miles and uses a slightly larger (40kWh) battery pack than the Renault Kangoo ZE.
2 Renault Kangoo ZE
The electric Kangoo has regularly been Europe’s best-selling small electric van, and it’s hardly surprising.
An upgraded motor and battery pack from the Renault Zoe hatchback means that it has a real-world driving range of 120 miles from its 33kWh battery pack. Renault also lets you lease the battery pack for a monthly fee, so the threat of the battery losing capacity will never haunt you.
It’s perhaps the best and most cost-efficient way of owning an electric van.
1 Renault Zoe Van
In the past electric vehicles have had a habit of looking a bit unusual. While the Renault Zoe is far from odd, as a van it is a little curious.
It’s small payload of just 387kg and 0.5m3 of carrying capacity won’t work for some businesses, but the 245-mile range most definitely can.
An 80kW motor paired to a 52kWh battery make this a fast and practical little van for any business that needs something more than a city runabout.
As the Renault Zoe Van is the passenger car with the back seats removed, it’s also great to drive, quiet and comfortable. In fact you’d barely notice you were in a van – most unusual.
Small electric vans coming soon
Ford has pledged to electrify its entire range, so we can expect to see a zero-emissions Ford Transit Connect at some point in the future.
Mercedes-Benz will also be adding electric power trains to its van range but will rely on Renault to provide the underpinnings for its Kangoo-based Mercedes-Benz eCitan van.
Not coming soon...
Volkswagen had announced its plans for an all-electric Volkswagen Caddy van. It was to be built by Formula-E competitors ABT and launched in 2020, but with a new Caddy van now on sale those plans have been shelved. An electric Caddy van might now be some years away.
Best medium electric - and hybrid - vans
Choice in this sector of the market is set to grow exponentially, boosted most notably by the imminent arrival of electric Transit variants from Ford. For now, though, the PSA Group, with its Citroen, Peugeot and Vauxhall brands leads the way, offering an official range of up to 205 miles.
6 Maxus E Deliver 3
The Maxus E Deliver 3 is available as both a standard and long wheelbase van, but it’s the larger of the two vans which is really the medium-sized van. The standard van has a capacity of 4.8m3 which is a shade on the small side for a mid-size van, while the larger model has a 6.3m3 loadspace. Maximum payload is either 905kg, or 1020kg, which isn’t bad considering its size.
Power comes from an electric motor producing 85kW and it has a battery that is capable of up to 150 miles of range. It’s engaging to drive and fast too, but the electronics and some of the plastics leave you with no doubt that you are in something of a cut-price EV.
5 Volkswagen ABT eTransporter
Not strictly an off-the-shelf Volkswagen electric van, the eTransporter is made by German engineering experts ABT. It is fully endorsed by VW and sold by them though, so fear not.
It looks and feels just like the excellent Transporter 6.1, but the engine is replaced with an 83kW motor and battery pack that will take you a claimed 82 miles.
It supports fast charging of up to 50kW, has a payload of just over one tonne and can move 6.7m3.
Unlike most other electric vans, the eTransporter doesn’t have different driving modes or levels of regenerative braking, and as such already feels a little out of date despite being brand new.
4 Mercedes-Benz eVito
The Mercedes-Benz eVito is possibly the most advanced medium-size van thanks to a clever, almost gearbox-like, set of regenerative braking levels that allow you to slow or coast the van. It has a 93 mile range and is quick thanks to an 85kW motor,
Payload is up to 1015kg, and you can carry as much as 6m3, all in the smart, comfortable and good-looking van that you’d expect from anything carrying a Mercedes badge on the front.
There’s one major drawback, though: it does not support any kind of rapid charging (only 7kw) and as a result the relatively small 41kWh battery will still take more than six hours to fully charge.
3 LEVC VN5
This unusual little hybrid van is based on the London Taxi, but whereas the TX5 (which stands for Taxi with 5 persons) moves people, the VN5 (which stands for Van with 5.5m3 capacity) will transport everything else.
It has a 1.5-litre petrol engine which powers an electric motor that drives the wheels. It has a range of more than 300 miles and can go for 30 miles in pure electric mode.
Payload is up to 830kg and as mentioned it can transport up to 5.5m3 in its adapted rear loadspace.
2 Ford Transit Custom PHEV
Another smart hybrid, the Ford Transit Custom PHEV feels like it’s been around for several years already but has in fact was only put on general sale to the public in 2020. Fleets including Vodafone and couriers Speedy Services had previously been testing these petrol-powered hybrids with a 310-mile range and 35-mile electric-only capability.
It comes as a van or an eight-seat minibus, but both have rather clever battery management functions that enable you to store, charge, or use the power in the 14kWh battery pack.
Like other hybrids, it’s not cheap, but it is clever, rewarding to drive and - if used in the right way (by which we mean plugged in to charge regularly) - cheap to run.
1= Vauxhall Vivaro-e, Citroen e-Dispatch, Peugeot e-Partner
The Vauxhall Vivaro-e, Citroen e-Dispatch and Peugeot e-Partner offer a remarkable combination of good driving manners, practicality and load space and ultra-low running costs, all with a battery range of up to 205 miles, making it a realistic zero-emissions choice for many van drivers.
The Vivaro-e does, however, stand out from its nearest rivals, the Citroen e-Dispatch and Peugeot e-Expert, both of which are based on identical underpinnings, for having better residual value predictions, meaning it should cost less to own in the long-term.
Best large electric vans
Large electric vans have only recently come on to the market, but competition is already heating up.
The challenge for manufacturers developing large electric vans is that they are already quite heavy and at the 3.5-tonne maximum weight limit. As a result, adding batteries can eat into payloads – something that is worth checking before purchase.
4 Iveco Daily Electric
Iveco has offered an electric version of its Daily for almost a decade, but with old-technology battery packs that are both heavy and expensive, it has struggled to win many admirers.
3 LDV EV80
The large electric LDV has become something of a silent success story.
Despite its relatively modest interior and old-looking appearance, it is a decent large electric van.
It has a claimed range of 127 miles from a 56kWh battery pack, which takes it farther than rivals.
2 Renault Master ZE
Using much of the same technology as the Renault Kangoo ZE, the electric Master van has all-round appeal and a real-world driving range of 74 miles, according to its maker. If you can live with that, it is a very decent van.
1 Mercedes eSprinter
The Mercedes eSprinter is very similar to the Mercedes-Benz eVito only it’s bigger and better. The size difference is obvious, but it’s better because - unlike the eVito - the eSprinter supports rapid charging
It’s limited to just one body size, which is a shame, but it can still transport up to 11m3 and move 1045kg.
There are two sizes of battery pack, which allows the eSprinter to have a range of up to 96 miles.
Large electric vans coming soon
Fiat, Ford, Mercedes, Peugeot and Citroën are all developing large electric vans while MAXUS will replace the LDV EV80 with an electric version of its Deliver 9 van.
Not coming any more
The Volkswagen e-Crafter was meant to be arriving in the UK in limited numbers throughout 2020 and 2021, but uncertainty over whether these vehicles would be right- or left-hand drive has led to delays. The Crafter will therefore not come to the UK as a full electric vehicle until the Crafter receives a facelift – most likely this year.
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