I’m looking for an electric van. What’s out there?


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Hi Bryce

I’m looking for an electric van. In autumn 2023 I’m considering changing to a “van lifestyle”, traveling within Australia doing voluntary work – a “green nomad”, if you will. What’s out there?

Size:

* Renault Kangoo is too small.

* EV Auto EC11 is too big.

* Toyota Hiace or VW Transporter would be great, if they came in electric.

* Mercedes eVito Panel Van might be ok. (BTW: the range on your sheet is “150 TBC”. Range currently quoted for the van as sold overseas is 314km).

* EV Automotive list on their website an EC35 1t van as ‘coming soon’. Do you know anything about that?

*ACE EV has plans for a V1 Transformer van – it is coming any time soon and what size will it be?

Wish list: 4WD with ground clearance.

Kind regards

Danny


Hi Danny – first up: that sounds like a fantastic plan! Plus, given my recent drive from Melbourne to Perth and back – already do-able in an EV now (if not perhaps at quite the same pace as an ICE vehicle when out of range of the evolving DC charger network).

By the way: for my EV summary sheets at the AEVA webpage, I tend to be conservative and not add vehicles as ‘coming’ until production vehicles exist and an approximate date has been set for an Australian release. (We in Australia have too often been the victim of long-delayed launch dates, or worse still – evaporated model promises that end up never to be brought here. I try hard not to add to that pain).

As for the two you mention that are not on my list: the EC35 is close (I have seen a pre-production version and production models are set to roll of the assembly line soon… plus the importer has set ‘Q2 2023’ for a launch date) so it may not be long until I officially add it.

The ACE van is much further away. No significant specifications have been released for it, not even a pre-production version exists and the manufacturer still has the battle of setting up manufacturing facilities in Australia. As a result, it is likely to be a long way past your departure date before the Transformer arrived – but never fear, plenty of others will likely have before then.

As for the ones on your list in the ‘around 1 tonne’ range: by the end of next year you may have a choice of perhaps three to four … as opposed to none now.

Mercedes eVito van

Slated for an Australian release sometime in the second half of this year: the latest version available overseas now has a 66kW battery with a 260km (WLTP) range. On the other hand, Mercedes haven’t announced the full specifications for the Australian version – meaning whilst it is likely to arrive with the 66kWh battery, it MIGHT sport the earlier 41kWh one as listed on my sheet.

The reason? Australian vehicle model specifications can (and often do) differ from overseas ones. For instance, MG offer a 72.6 kWh battery for the ZS EV in Europe but pulled the pin on that battery size here and only offered the ‘standard range’ version of 51kWh when the Australian specs for the recently updated model were officially detailed.

eVito Tourer. Source: MBA

EV Automotive EC35

First shown as a pre-production (left-hand drive) version at the 2019 Australian Electric Vehicle Association national EV Expo – it has had a somewhat tortuous journey to the Australian market.

However production of RHD, Australian spec versions have reportedly begun and the importer is planning a Q2, 2023 launch date. Unfortunately, thus far no more recent specs have been announced beyond the 41.4 kWh battery and NEDC semi-laden range of 290 km announced back in 2019.

(Note that NEDC has now been replaced by WLTP to give closer to realistic/real-world estimates. WLTP usually testing results in a figure around 30% less than NEDC). If the same battery specification is used for the 2023 model, that would equate to perhaps 200 km of WLTP range.

EC35 Van from EV Automotive
EC35 Van from EV Automotive

Possible future electric van choices (in order of likelihood)

Ford e-Transit Custom

The 1t Ford e-Transit custom would probably be the best choice using your specifications. With a 68kWh battery and projected driving range of ‘317+km’ (WLTP), it would be a great option for you. Unfortunately, whilst confirmed for Australia – its Australian launch is slated for no earlier than the start of 2024.

By the way, the 1.7t Ford e-Transit is coming to Australia much earlier (in fact later this year) – however if the EC11 is too big for your needs, so is the e-Transit as it is very similar in size and cargo rating to the EC11.

2022 Ford e-Transit.  LHD model shown.  Source: Ford
2022 Ford e-Transit. LHD model shown. Source: Ford

Renault Kangoo e-tech van

The all-new Kangoo electric van is reportedly arriving here next year (the importers of Renault in Australia, Ateco, have said the model is under close consideration). It would be worth checking out the specs of the new van as it is slightly bigger than the outgoing one and (might) squeeze into you size needs.

As an EV LCV (light Commercial Van) it certainly would meet a lot of the needs of small businesses that may be considered the current one and found it slightly wanting. The new Kangoo EV has a bigger battery (44kW) offering up to 300km range (WLTP), DC fast-charge (unlike the current one) and many innovative cargo-carrying features. Hopefully, Ateco will decide to bring it here once the old Kangoo ZE ceases production.

The new-shape Kangoo E-Tech small delivery van is a big step up over the Kangoo ZE, which has been on sale in Australia since 2017.
The new Kangoo E-Tech small delivery van is a step up from the Kangoo ZE, which has been available in Australia since 2017.

Peugeot e-Expert

Another on the ‘possible’ list is the Peugeot e-Expert. Offered in Europe with a choice of 50kWh and 75kWh batteries and a payload of up to 1275kg. The smaller battery offers a range of up to 230km (WLTP), whilst the larger battery can do up to 330km (WLTP). Peugeot are reportedly ‘looking seriously’ at bringing it to Australia – perhaps in 2023.

peugeot e-expert
e-Expert electric van. Source: Peugeot

Electric options with ground clearance

If a high ground clearance vehicle, or even full 4WD electric dual-cab ute might work for you, then a couple of options may become available next year.

LDV eT60 dual cab ute

Arriving in NZ late this year – Australia may not have to wait much longer after that for the first true electric ‘tradie’ ute to arrive. (Feel free to offer Michaelia Cash and/or Scott Morrison a test-drive if buying one 😉

With an 88.5 kWh battery and 325 km (WLTP) range – the eT60 is still 2WD, but offers higher ground clearance than most light commercial vans.

T60 electric ute.  Source: LDV
T60 electric ute. Source: LDV

Rivian R1T

The first true 4WD electric ute to go on sale in the world – the Rivian R1T is likely to become the choice of off-roaders for long-weekend (or further) getaways. With three battery pack options offering up to 640 km range (US EPA rating) with the 180 kWh battery, it will be a true ‘go-anywhere’ vehicle. Unfortunately, production of the Rivian has got off to a slow start and US orders (where it is made) have been overwhelming.

As a result, Rivian quickly delayed their originally announced date for Australian sales from ‘late 2022’ to ‘sometime in 2023’. Sadly, even though RHD Rivian R1T production has begun, they recently announced that Asia-Pacific sales won’t start until 2024 as they are now prioritising Europe as their next major market.

Source: Rivian
Source: Rivian

Summing up:

If you’re after a mid-size electric light commercial van that is definitely arriving this year – the Mercedes eVito is the one. (In fact, it’ll be the only one). However, at an 800 kg payload for the 66 kWh battery version, you had a better plan to build your camper conversion lightly!

Hopefully it will arrive with the longer range battery, meaning it would be close to an equal of what I would see as the likely pick of the bunch for the next 18 months: the Ford e-Transit Custom.

If waiting till 2023 before buying, then you could have a look at the EV Automotive EC35 – although if the EC35 still has the 2019 41kWh announced battery and the Merc the larger one: the choice for your long distance driving requirement has been made for you .

If you were to plumping for a more off-road/4WD capability and look at a dual-cab ute (compromising a little on the ‘camper van’ spirit) – then you will have to wait till at least 2023.

Somewhere around then, we may see one or both of the LDV eT60 – or if you have lots of cash to splash: the Rivian R1T, although the latter may not now arrive until 2024. True 4WD wagons are coming too: the Rivian R1S has started production, and Mercedes recently showed an electrified G-Class (the EQG) concept car. Whether either arrive here though is anybody’s guess.

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