After several years of extensive testing in commercial fleets around the world including IKEA, British Gas, Coca-Cola and FedEx, Nissan has finally unveiled its production-spec all-electric e-NV200 van today at the Geneva Motor Show.
Available either as a commercial panel van or a five-seat minivan, the e-NV200 is based upon Nissan’s gasoline-powered NV200 van, but, says Nissan, has been extensively reengineered to ensure maximum efficiency as an electric vehicle. So much so, the Japanese automakers says, 30 percent of the e-NV200’s components have been designed specifically for the vehicle, from its chassis to its shell to ensure that it offers the same kind of load-carrying space and functionality as the gasoline variant.
Like the Nissan LEAF, the e-NV200 is powered by a 24 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack powering an 80 kilowatt AC motor which in turn drives the front wheels. In order to ensure maximum cargo space however, the battery pack has been repackaged to fit completely beneath the van’s load-bay floor.
Set low in the floor and surrounded by a reinforced structure, the e-NV200’s low centre of gravity promises to give it excellent handling capabilities on the road, while Nissan says the location of the battery pack helps the e-NV200 have a 20 percent improvement in torsional and 35 percent improvement in lateral stiffness over its gasoline sibling.
Despite being powered by the same battery pack and motor as the LEAF, the e-NV200’s larger size and less aerodynamic shape means it won’t quite match the LEAF in terms of performance or range per charge. On the New European Drive Cycle (NEDC) Nissan says the e-NV200 will manage 170 kilometers per charge (105 miles), but as we’ve said here before, the NEDC test cycle is notoriously optimistic about EV range. For everyday use, we’d guess a range of between 60 and 80 miles would be more realistic depending on the road conditions and load, something Nissan hints at in its press release when it notes that most commercial vehicles of the e-NV200’s size travel a daily distance no more than 100 kilometers (62 miles).
Top speed is similarly down on the LEAF, with Nissan claiming an electronically-limited top speed of 120 kph (75mph). That said, it’s worth remembering that the diesel-powered NV200 has a top speed of around 100 mph, and a 0-62 time Nissan says is slower than the electric variant.Official 0-62 times for the e-NV200 will be released later this year, but Nissan says the electric motor gives it a far sportier and more torquey feel than the dino-burning NV200.
It’s also worth remembering of course that the e-NV200 is designed to be a van, not a family car, although Nissan has said when the e-NV200 launches later this summer it will be offered in a rugged van and more highly-specced ‘Avalia’ five-seat minivan variants. Interestingly, it seems that the 7-seat variant available in the NV200 hasn’t made it over to the electric version, but with no third row of seats the e-NV200 could be a perfect fit for busy soccer parents with three kids, a lot of shopping, and a family pet to fit in.
With commercial fleet operators in mind, the e-NV200 has done away with the hockey puck-style gear shifter from the Nissan LEAF, replacing it with a more conventional automatic gear shift lever. As well as being more robust, Nissan says this should help drivers who regularly shift between electric and gasoline vehicles.
While the e-NV200 is slightly less capable in terms of performance and range than the LEAF however, Nissan has taken care to ensure it isn’t any harder to charge. Like the LEAF, there’s a 3.3 kilowatt on-board charger as standard, alongside a 50 kW CHAdeMO DC Quick charge connector. Located on the nose of the van as they are on the LEAF, Nissan says charging will take around the same time as it does for the LEAF. That’s around 6 to 8 hours at 3.3 kilowatts and 30 minutes to 80 percent full at a DC quick charge station. For those who want it, there’s also an optional 6.6 Kw on-board charger, bringing a full level 2 charging time down to around 4 hours.
Nissan has yet to announce pricing for the e-NV200, but we’d hope it will be on par with the LEAF with similar battery leasing opportunities for European customers as the plug-in hatchback already offers.
Do you like the look of the e-NV200? Will it revolutionise small businesses who need cheap, reliable small vans, or will it become the vehicle of choice for the busy soccer mom? And would you buy one?
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