Other brands launch a single model of a fully electric (BEV) to test the waters. More confident brands launch two versions at once. But what to think of a brand that launches 2 body types, in 3 lengths, with 2 battery sizes, in 4 trim levels? Okay, that is 40 versions to choose from (not all combinations are possible). And that is without counting the many different seating arrangements that can be ordered.
Full disclosure: I think the Multi-Purpose-Vehicle (MPV) is the most brilliant car architecture developed during my lifetime.
The original as pioneered by Renault used a sedan chassis and put a van body on top of it with a limousine interior, aptly called Espace. Chauffeur-driven for business use or owner-driven for family trips. Partner-in-crime Chrysler used a truck chassis for its Voyager. The Voyager became the ultimate team carrier to worksites, offering space for 8 people and their tools. Both became iconic examples of this new class of vehicles.
The main drawback of these vehicles was that they were too big and too expensive for a single, low-pay, young urban guy. You see, I am not really a car guy. I think you need an excuse, a valid use case, to justify driving such a big expensive car. When I was magically converted into a suburban family man, I could not wait to order my MPV. The best model for me turned out to be the Citroën Evasion.
The Evasion offered space for two adults and six kids with all the seating in place, or fewer kids but with a path from front to rear between the seats to attend to the eating, drinking, playing, or fighting going on in the rear. It did have a completely flat floor from front to back, enabling my partner to move around like a flight attendant.
In a car, it is not normal to walk around, and when it was “fasten your seat belts” time, the seatbelts were fastened. We enjoyed the MPV for about 20 years, and I still miss it at times.
Now it has a fully electric successor, and I am a single, retired, grumpy old guy, without the excuse use case nor the money for it. Life has come full circle (except for my age, which goes linear). So forgive me when I am a bit enthusiastic about these new offerings.
Starting on the outside, the Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) is just a normal delivery van, 13 in a dozen, with three lengths for different amounts of cargo space (XS, M, XL). The increase between models is about half a meter. It has sliding doors on both sides that can be opened and closed by swapping a foot under the car just before the rear wheel. Very practical when your arms are loaded with kids or stuff. There is an extra rugged version for use on construction sites. Another one is optimized for last-mile deliveries in urban areas. The “driver” version has all of the bells and whistles for regional highway driving with advanced driver assistance systems, comfort, and luxury.
As an MPV, cabin and cargo space are merged into a single room. The same three length variants are available. That offers the possibility for a large number of seating and working arrangements.
My Evasion was only made in the XS format. With full seating in place, there was not much room for luggage. Having more length options is a big improvement. There is more seating and office space. The second-row seats can be used facing the third row with a small table in between, creating a conference or card playing space. It also opens the market for hotel shuttles and taxi services.
The powertrain has a 100kW motor and 50kWh or 75kWh batteries. The larger battery is only available in the M and XL body lengths. There are a plethora of charging options, including 100kW DC charging. For the LCV version, the motor and batteries are about the best in the market. This type of van is not used much for long-haul transport. For flower racers, the vans that deliver fresh flowers every morning to the markets over half of Europe with extra diesel tanks enabling them to drive all night at high speed and nonstop, there will not be a BEV version soon.
The short MPV with the 50kWh battery is only for urban use. As a taxi or school bus, it is probably great. As a family or business auto that is supposed to do more than urban hops, the 100kW motor and 75kWh battery are meager. A big and heavy vehicle like the ë-Space Tourer would love to have two of those motors, with 75kWh for each of those.
My best driving memories are in the MPV doing road trips with the family or a load of kids. At birthday parties, all kids could join, place enough for all. They got less tired and bored in upright seats.
In a spacious MPV, there is more room to play and watch out of the window. There is less fighting and irritation on longer journeys because of the space around them. I also had a midsize sedan, the Citroën Xantia. The kids hated travelling in that car, they felt confined. For parents, perhaps the biggest plus is not having to think about luggage when preparing for a journey. There is always room for an extra bag.
Visiting an amusement park or other destination a little further off for a day trip should be possible without (much) charging. Having a bathroom break every hour and a half is just too often.
But for me, without kids, I would love to have ë-Space Tourer M 75kWh. It has all the nice, modern driver-assist features you can find on the best BEV — the list is long and about the same as in the ë-C4. It has the tablet holder for the passenger seat and inductive charger for your telephone. It has the connected services we have become used to, including calling emergency services when an airbag deploys.
With only 3–4 seats (second and third row seats are removable and perfect as camping seats) and a sleeping bag, I could not imagine a better vehicle to see the world.
But best of all — it has a suspension which Citroën is proud of. The brand is famous for its pioneering solutions on front-wheel drive (remember the “Traction Avant”) and its hydropneumatic suspension. This suspension was banned from F1 racing because Citroën was not willing to license it to all teams, giving unfair advantage to the teams that did have it. These new suspensions that Citroën has developed for the PSA Group promise to be amazing.
On paper, these electric LCV and MPV options look like best-in-class vehicles. As soon as they come to the market, I will go on a long test drive. I cannot wait to try this out.