Vauxhall Vivaro-e electric van review

Category: Electric Van

The Vauxhall Vivaro-e has a decent real-world range, and a payload which matches its diesel counterpart. A high list price counts against it, however, and the interior could be more spacious for the driver.

Vauxhall Vivaro-e front action
  • Vauxhall Vivaro-e front action
  • Vauxhall-Vivaro-e
  • Vauxhall-Vivaro-e
  • Vauxhall-Vivaro-e
  • Vauxhall Vivaro load area
  • Vauxhall Vivaro-e front action
  • Vauxhall-Vivaro-e
  • Vauxhall-Vivaro-e
  • Vauxhall-Vivaro-e
  • Vauxhall Vivaro load area
What Car?’s Vivaro-e deals


What Car? says...

If you’ve been keeping up with the electric revolution at all you will know that the Vauxhall Corsa-e is quite well regarded when it comes to the new influx of electric cars.

It might surprise you, however, to find out that the electric Vauxhall Vivaro medium-sized van makes use of some of the same technology as the small car – quite a statistic when you consider the electric Vivaro’s payload allowance is not too far off the 1.5-tonne kerb weight of the Corsa-e.

Vauxhall has just one plated vehicle weight (3.1-tonnes) for the Vivaro-e, but there are both long and short wheelbase versions available. There’s only one roof height, but you can still get up to 6.6m3 in the loadspace and transport up to 1226kg. The loadspace of the electric Vivaro is completely unchanged from the combustion engine version too, which means it can transport lengths up to 2.8m.

For many, the range of electric vans is not only a concern but a barrier to buying one, but Vauxhall has addressed that with the option of two different battery sizes: 50kWh or 75kWh battery choices give the Vivaro-e official ranges 143 or 205 miles according to the WLTP test procedure.

Charging the battery from 0-80% can take as little as 32 minutes using a 100kW rapid charger, but the Vivaro-e also supports single phase 7.4kW charging, and has the option of three phase 11kW charging. These would take 7 hours 30 minutes and 4 hours 45 minutes to charge the smaller battery, respectively.

Power comes from a 100kW (134bhp) electric motor producing 192lb ft of torque.

As well as being available as a panel van, the Vauxhall Vivaro-e also comes as a double cab van and is available in a choice of two trim levels – Dynamic and Elite.

Competition in the mid-sized electric van segment is heating up, most notably from the the Citroen e-Dispatch, Peugeot e-Expert and Toyota Proace Electric, with which the Vivaro-e shares most of its technology and its underpinnings. In this review you'll find out whether it's the right choice for you and your business, but if not, take a look at our list of the best EV vans.

Read more: How we test vans


The Vauxhall Vivaro-e has a decent real-world range, and a payload which matches its diesel counterpart. A high list price counts against it, however, and the interior could be more spacious for the driver.

  • Cost-effective to run
  • Good real-world mileage
  • Well equipped trim levels
  • Expensive to buy
  • Cabin feels a bit cramped
  • EV model not made in Britain

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Noisy, rattling diesel engines are already a thing of the past in the van world, and the regular Vivaro is already a well insulated van, but the Vivaro-e's electric motor takes the quietness to the next level. It is therefore about as serene and relaxing as a commercial vehicle can be.

Vauxhall Vivaro-e image
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It is also interesting to drive. The 100kW motor, producing 134bhp, might not sound that punchy compared with a top-end 200bhp diesel, but with no gears to change and instantaneous torque from the moment you press the accelerator, the Vivaro-e feels far quicker than you would expect.

With the lightest van in the range weighing 1874kg, the Vivaro-e (plated at 3.1-tonnes) can have a total payload of 1226kg. At full weight that tips the scales at more than twice the weight of the electric Corsa, yet the Vivaro-e’s performance is not dissimilar to its diesel engine counterparts or other electric vans.

The Vivaro has three driving modes, which are changed via a button on the dashboard. Normal mode provides you with 80% power and torque, but if you want the full amount you’ll have to switch into Power mode. Eco limits the outputs, cutting available power to 60% of the total and torque down to 70%. While it doesn’t sound like a big cut, it is enough to noticeably hold back the instantaneous burst of acceleration associated with electric vans. The Vivaro-e does feel fast enough though, even in normal mode. In Power mode you would think there was a lot more than 134bhp available.

As well as the three driving modes, there are also two levels of regenerative braking. Twist the key to power up the Vivaro-e and by default you’ll be in Normal driving mode, with the standard amount of gentle but noticeable regenerative braking.

The B mode button, again on the dash, increases the regenerative braking to the point that the automatic braking force is enough to activate the brake lights. It’s effective, but a third, more powerful, mode would be more welcome, while having the selection controls on the steering would also make toggling to the optimum setting easier.

The official range for the Vivaro-e is 143 miles for the model with the smaller 50kWh battery and 205 miles with the larger 75kWh pack. In reality those figures are unrealistic, although not as widely off the mark as you might think. We would estimate around 110 miles and 175 miles respectively are achievable with a modest load.



The interior layout, fit and finish

The Vauxhall Vivaro-e’s interior is near identical to the standard Vauxhall Vivaro’s – and that’s no bad thing; only the instrument cluster and the buttons where the gear stick have changed.

Selecting forward and reverse is done using a rocker switch on the lower centre of the dash. Above the gear indicator is a button for Park and below is the B-mode function for the higher level of regenerative braking. Another rocker switch to the left selects the Normal, Power and Eco Drive Modes.

Other changes to the dash clusters include a power meter in place of the usual rev counter, which shows you whether you are charging the batteries (when lifting off, braking or in B mode) and how much energy you are using while accelerating. You’ll also see a battery charge level indicator instead of the fuel gauge and a trip computer which, among other things, tells you how much predicated range you’ve got left, how much energy you’re using or your speed.

The rest of the interior is pure Vivaro. That means it’s nice and comfortable and well put together, but it is on the small side. The seating position is quite low, and for bigger drivers it will feel cramped. It could do with larger mirrors and more space in the footwells.

However, even with standard Dynamic trim level you don’t feel hard done by, thanks to a fully adjustable driver’s seat, cruise control, 7in colour touchscreen infotainment system, rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers and an electronic hand brake.

Elite versions get satellite-navigation, a rear-view camera, a lane-depature warning system and speed sign recognition as well as a drowsiness alert system. There’s also electric door mirrors and front parking sensors.


Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

With batteries in the floor and a motor replacing the engine, there’s very little difference in terms of dimensions between the electric and diesel-engined Vivaro.

Many people expect there to be some compromises with electric vans, but in actual fact the only difference is that the Vivaro-e simply has a slimmed down range. It’s available in two body lengths and two roof heights, which means load volumes from 5.3m3 to 6.6m3.

Space within the van is also completely unchanged, which means 4959mm lengths can be moved in the L1 model and up to 5309mm in the L2 when using the load-through bulkhead, called FlexCargo, which is included on the Elite trim level. Standard maximum length capacity of the van is 2512mm for the L1 and 2862mm for the L2.

Removing the engine and transmission means that the heavy batteries and motor don’t compromise the Vivaro-e’s payload. All vans have a gross vehicle weight of 3.1 tonnes. The highest capacity is 1226kg - on the L1H1 panel van with the 50kWh battery - with the lowest, on the larger 75kWh unit, 1000kg. Overall though, the weight difference between electric and diesel vans is just 130kg.

The other party-piece of the Vivaro-e is that it can tow a trailer of up to one- tonne – a feature its badge-engineered siblings from Citroen, Peugeot and Toyota are also capable of.


Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

You can look at the costs of electric vehicle ownership in several ways, but the short version of it is that – whether you pay upfront or lease – you will pay a significant premium over a regular petrol or diesel-engined model, but (hopefully) enjoy significantly cheaper running costs as a result.

Whether or not that will work out to your advantage will depend on how you use the van, and how you charge it, with public charging typically being substantially more expensive than home charging. As a rule of thumb, Vauxhall estimates that the Vivaro-e is almost five times cheaper to run than the regular Vivaro.

Interestingly, residual value predictions are very strong, even compared with those for the Peugeot e-Expert and Citroen e-Dispatch, which are built on the same production line in France. That owes much to the Vivaro’s popularity in the UK.

Equipment levels are good on the base model, and the top-spec Elite van has all the equipment you’d find on the equivalent top-of-the-range diesel, so there’s no compromising on comfort or features by going electric. 

With just one choice of motor and only two trim options to choose from, the Vivaro-e range is very simple to navigate. We’d recommend the Elite over the Dynamic, but many buyers will reasonably decide they can live without the creature comforts it provides.

About the author

George Barrow is one of the leading van and truck reviewers, and is the UK’s only representative on the prestigious International Van of the Year jury. He has written about vans and commercial vehicles for the past 15 years, and can be found in titles including The Sun and What Van?, alongside What Car?.

Barrow is well regarded in the commercial vehicle industry, securing access to the latest models – and the people who made them – long before other titles.

Vauxhall Vivaro load area