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Van of the Year 2021: Overall Winner
The What Car? Van of the Year 2021 sets new standards for electric propulsion, offering almost all of the capability of its combustion-engined sibling at highly competitive price...
WINNER: What Car? Van of the Year 2021
Priced from £27,028 Range 143-205 miles CO2 emissions 0g/km Load space 5.3-6.1m3 Payload 1002-1226kg Power 136bhp Torque 192lb ft
Given the pace of development of vans in recent years, driven largely by the need to meet ever-tighter emissions regulations, the shortlist of potential winners was extensive. It included International Van of the Year winners the Volkswagen Crafter, Ford Transit Custom, Citroën Berlingo, Peugeot Partner, Toyota Proace City and Vauxhall Combo; add in the Ford Transit Courier and you start to understand why the task of selecting our Van of the Year was so tough.
Ultimately, however, the winner must best represent the needs and trends of the modern world, and that’s something that the electric Vauxhall Vivaro-e does perfectly, delivering an official zero-emissions range of between 143 and 205 miles, depending on battery size, that is surely enough for the needs of many van drivers today. While petrol and diesel will likely still lead van sales for many years to come, the launch of a truly credible, comfortable, enjoyable and affordable electric van is a landmark moment that has to be recognised.
It’s a remarkable result given the relative recency with which Vauxhall was absorbed into the PSA Group and its best-selling Vivaro moved onto one of its platforms, but the fact of the matter is that this electric version of the van does it all: its load space is large and practical, it’s relaxing and sometimes entertaining to drive and it is capable enough to fit into the work plans of everything from large fleets with set routes or routines through to individual users with access to charging.
Better still, it supports fast-charging as standard – something that other van makers have overlooked because of the associated costs. In optimum conditions it’s possible to add more than 160 miles of charge to the Vivaro-e in just 30 minutes, transforming its usability and making it a practical commercial vehicle for all but the very highest mileage of drivers.
But what does the Vivaro-e do to beat its near-identical brethren from the PSA Group, the Citroën e-Dispatch and Peugeot e-Expert? Well, the deciding factor was that it is predicted to retain its value better than those vans as a result of Vauxhall’s mainstream reputation and the Vivaro’s already established desirability.
With a starting price of just over £27,000 excluding VAT and including the Government grant, it’s not cheap, but those residuals should mean that owners are either left with a smile on their face come resale time, or get to enjoy lower lease rates in anticipation of that fact.
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