What Car? says...
When the Volkswagen e-Crafter was unveiled as a concept at the huge commercial vehicle show in Hanover in 2016, it wasn’t a question of if the electric large van would be made but when.
Two years later, and the first vehicles entered into trials across Europe, most tellingly with important UK customers including Heathrow Airport and the London Borough of Southwark. Those trials concluded and the e-Crafter is now on sale – but there’s a catch. You have to sit on the wrong side of the van, because it's currently only being made in left-hand drive form.
That potentially troublesome problem aside, the e-Crafter is everything you’d expect of a big electric van, and is actually more powerful than its arch-rival, the Renault Master ZE.
The official range stands at 107 miles, but bear in mind that it's likely to be less in real-world operation.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The Crafter was already an excellent van to drive, and adding a 35kW battery beneath the floor – and therefore lowering the centre of gravity – has only made it feel even more planted and stable.
As in the diesel version, the steering is sharp – if a little light – and the ride is velvety soft. In fact, it's the most comfortable large van in the business at the moment.
The biggest giveaway that you're driving an electric vehicles is the absence of noise, because diesel engines in vans are usually quite noisy things.
The upside of them is that they help to drown out the noise of the road and the wind, but neither of these things are overly intrusive in the e-Crafter.
The e-Crafter's 134bhp motor is bang in the middle of the regular diesel range in terms of power output. And, incidentally, it's the 138bhp engine we recommend you buy the diesel Crafter with.
The e-Crafter also benefits from not having a gearbox; the uninterrupted, instantaneous torque from its motor makes it quick and smooth. In many ways, it’s the ultimate urban van, although that's just as well, because it's limited to 56mph – part of the reason why a range of more than 100 miles is possible.
Charging takes 5.5 hours from a wall charger, but the battery is capable of rapid-charging to 80% of its capacity in just 45 minutes. The final 20% will take a further 20 minutes.