One of the parts of the auto industry that is best suited to near-term electrification is the delivery vehicle/van segment. Such vehicles — whether inner city parcel delivery trucks, produce trucks, mail delivery vehicles, bakery vans, etc. — generally don’t travel much on a daily basis, and often follow very reliable usage patterns within a strict service area, so there are often no fundamental reasons for the operators of such vehicles to not go electric.
In fact, switching to the use of plug-in electric delivery vehicles or vans from diesel or petrol/gasoline vehicles is often an effective way for such businesses to reduce their operating costs and save themselves money (over time, not immediately). This is especially true in Western Europe, where people live more densely than in many other parts of the world (such as the US).
All of that said, electric delivery vehicle adoption in Europe has yet to truly reach the point of snowballing — despite all of the potential benefits of making the switchover from internal combustion engine vehicles.
With that in mind, I’m going to provide an overview here of the best-selling plug-in electric vans and delivery vehicles in Europe (as of late 2017).
Top Electric Vans & Delivery Vehicles In Europe
As noted above, sales of plug-in electric vans and delivery vehicles in Europe remain sparse, so it may not surprise too many people to find out that there aren’t actually many models worth highlighting here. It also might not be surprising that arguably the top model is actually being produced by the company utilizing it … a company that isn’t even an auto manufacturer but wanted an EV for its delivery needs. Notably, certain auto manufacturers were requested but wouldn’t provide the company with what it needed (claiming that such a vehicle couldn’t be built) and then complained afterwards that the company had succeeded.
Yes, I’m talking about the Deutsche Post DHL Group and its subsidiary StreetScooter. Deutsche Post DHL Group had, as you might remember, approached Volkswagen about having some all-electric delivery vans manufactured for its use. Volkswagen is reported to have responded by saying that such a thing wasn’t economically viable. So Deutsche Post execs decided to begin producing their own, through the StreetScooter subsidiary. Which brings us here…
StreetScooter Work (Deutsche Post DHL Group)
Initially, production was intended only to meet the needs of Deutsche Post and DHL Express for economical all-electric delivery vehicles — with plans calling for some 10,000 units to be produced a year beginning in 2017. Owing to a surge of interest from third parties, though, StreetScooter will reportedly be working to increase production and sell upwards of 5,000 of the electric vans a year to interested companies, municipalities, etc. Reportedly, some companies are even considering placing “very, very large orders.”
What this means in practice is that StreetScooter will effectively be the largest electric delivery vehicle manufacturer in Europe — with production exceeding that of Renault and Nissan. Notably, the company has recently been in talks with Ford about potentially ramping up production and/or selling the model outside of Europe.
Eventual plans — once models with greater range capabilities can be achieved — call for the company to electrify all of its ~70,000 vehicle strong fleet.
As far as specs go, the model features a range of 50–80 kilometers (varying dependent upon traffic conditions and load); a load capacity of 710 kilograms; an internal volume capacity of 4 cubic meters; 30 kW asynchronous electric motors; a peak/continuous output of 48 kW/38 kW; and a max speed of 80–85 km/h (~50 mph). Notably, the company is also working on a long-range version featuring a 200 kilometer range and a higher top speed.
Essentially, this is exactly the sort of specs you would expect from an affordable all-electric delivery vehicle designed to work in urban areas. Pricing for third parties seems fairly affordable as well, with some iterations in the ~€40,000 range (~$50,000).
The Nissan e-NV200 is the best selling plug-in electric van or delivery vehicle in the UK, and one of the best selling in Europe. (Notably, it’s not available for purchase in the US as of this article, so don’t get any ideas.) The model sold better than its primary rival, the Renault Kangoo ZE, in 2016 — when 4,319 units were sold in Europe during the year as compared to 3,728 Renault Kangoo ZE sales.
The Nissan e-NV200 also recently was given a substantial upgrade to its range and performance specs — with an official NEDC range now of 280 kilometers (174 miles) per full charge, and a real-world range much below that but still greatly improved over earlier iterations. This is achieved through the use of a 40 kWh battery pack.
Voltia eNV200 Maxi
There is also an impressive modified eNV200 on the market by the name of Voltia eNV200 Maxi. The van offers an improved storage capacity, growing the size of the van to another common but larger delivery vehicle size since Nissan doesn’t offer such a vehicle on its own. The eNV200 Maxi is offered by the Slovakian company Voltia.
Renault Kangoo ZE
As noted above, the Renault Kangoo ZE was actually outsold in Europe in 2016 by the Nissan e-NV200 — with a total of “only” 3,728 units sold there during the year. That said, the model has consistently sold quite well in Europe and elsewhere, and is one of the few all-electric delivery vans out there that is widely available.
The Renault Kangoo ZE recently saw its specs given a boost as well (as alliance partner Nissan’s e-NV200 offering did). The real-world, single-charge range rose to 75–125 miles (depending upon use patterns). The unrealistic but official NEDC “range” is 270 kilometers (163 miles).
For those unfamiliar with the NEDC testing cycle used in Europe to determine plug-in electric vehicle ranges … let’s just be generous and say that it’s better to see what the US EPA range rating is if you want to get a sense of actual, real-world range. (Of course, that isn’t possible with these Europe-only offerings.)
The new range increase has been accomplished through the use of a 33 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack and a new heat pump that improves heating efficiency, and thus cold weather range.
Renault Master ZE
This soon-to-be-released model will feature a 33 kWh battery pack and a real-world single-charge range of 90-100 miles (145–160 kilometers). The official NEDC range will reportedly be 124 miles (200 kilometers) per full charge. Power will be provided via a 57 kilowatt (76 horsepower) electric motor.
With an expected release in early 2018, the Renault Master ZE seems likely to sell fairly well — grabbing the buyers who would otherwise go with a Kangoo ZE or a Nissan e-NV200 but prefer more storage capacity. (In other words, it’s more of a competitor to the Voltia e-NV200 Maxi than one of those smaller electric vans.)
Peugeot Partner Electric Van (PSA Group)
The Peugeot Partner Electric is an all-electric van with a 22.5 kWh battery pack and a range of up to 106 miles (not real-world range but the NEDC rating). Gross payload is 552 kilograms and the battery pack can be charged to 80% in just 30 minutes.
To date, the model hasn’t been deployed as much commercially as some of the other names on this list, but the UK’s Royal Mail did place an order for 100 units earlier this year.
Mercedes-Benz eVito (Daimler)
The Mercedes-Benz eVito is another all-electric delivery van that hasn’t actually been released yet but still seems worth highlighting here. The model will reportedly possess an NEDC range rating of 150 kilometers (93 miles) per full charge, thanks to the use of a 41.4 kWh battery pack. The max speed will be 80 kilometers an hour (50 mph); charging the battery to 100% will reportedly take 6 hours; and the model will start at €39,990 ($47,000).
With regard to payload, the max possible is 1073 kilograms, and max load volume is 6.6 m3. Deliveries are currently expected to begin in late 2018 — roughly a year from now.
It bears remembering here that there have been a lot of changes this year with regard to the electric van and delivery vehicle models that are available in Europe, or going to be available soon.
The Nissan e-NV200, for instance, just got a substantial range upgrade (it’s now outfitted with a 40 kWh battery pack); Daimler’s E-Canter is approaching availability; Renault’s vans have been getting range upgrades; deliveries of the Mercedes-Benz eVito will begin in late 2018; eSprinter deliveries will follow in 2019; etc. The StreetScooter Work is also approaching production. So, the sector is likely to see the ground shifting quite a bit over the coming years.