With more and more electric options to choose from, Peugeot hopes to become the dominant “Partner” in the small e-van sector.
Ready to swap your old partner in for a shiny new model? That’s the iconic Peugeot van we are referring to, of course – before you get any other ideas – because its recently launched second generation e version is already starting to turn some eco heads. Not that it is going to have it all its own way, of course. Such is the convoluted make-up of the LCV market these days – with even rivalry amongst its own siblings (namely the Citroen e-Berlingo and Vauxhall Combo Electric) – we’re in for some interesting marketing and sales pitches in the run up to 2030. Nor is that taking into account the plethora of other competing similar sized electric vans which are about to come into the mainstream market.
Remarkably, it’s been more than twelve years since we were properly introduced to the first viable electric van – the Kangoo ZE from Renault and, naively perhaps, we expected ranges to rise and prices to fall pretty dramatically over the coming decade. That clearly hasn’t happened in quite the way we – and many small business van users – had anticipated, but are we getting closer to the point where ,to continue our theme, it really can be a marriage made in heaven?
With a projected range of 171 miles on its fully charged 50kWh battery pack, Peugeot will hope that at least one of those potential relationship brakers has been addressed, especially since their research shows that 80 percent of van users cover less than 124 miles a day. That certainly supports our long-held view that for many in the construction industry, who work locally for the majority of the time, a battery-powered vehicle is a viable option.
One of the big issues with going electric, of course, is what that means to payloads compared with conventional vehicles and how expected ranges are duly impacted. At a generous 800kg, and identical load area to its petrol and diesel Partner models, the e version is clearly moving in the right direction, although the diesel alternatives can comfortably add 200kg to that figure.
One thing they can’t control, of course, is the weather and winter cold is clearly no friend of the battery packs. Our test coincided with a short but intense Arctic blast and, with the heater on full bast for even a relatively short period, the range was noticeably compromised. Even parked up overnight a significant drop in temperature will knock a few miles off. And then, of course, there is the electric vehicle’s real nemesis – motorways. For the purposes of the test drive on a full charge we restricted it to just forty miles up the M1 simply because of the anxiety associated with getting back to our starting point.
The problem is largely due to that ingrained mindset of making constant comparisons with conventional powered vans. If you can look beyond that and see e power for exactly what it is, namely, an eco-friendly, business statement that delivers urban dwelling, silent and highly reliable performance, then the e-Partner is right up there in terms of current benchmarks for electric vans.
To that end, it strikes us as somewhat strange that the company don’t make its environmental credentials much more easily identifiable to the casual observer, although they are not alone in this lack of up-front branding. If you are doing your bit for the planet then you surely want your potential customer base to know all about it!
As you would expect, every e-Partner offers fast charging as standard with 0 to 80% achievable within 30 minutes, whilst a standard domestic wall box will yield a full charge in seven and half hours. Three driving modes can be engaged depending on the conditions and an attractive looking instrument cluster gives a clear and precise view of the vehicle’s status at all times.
Quick off the mark, it will do 0 to 62mph in just under twelve seconds and top speed is electronically limited to 81mph. Those who do opt for an electric powertrain will find the same choice as those vans available with conventional engines with different spec levels, short or long wheelbase and either a panel van or five seat crew cab. The well-honed interior is pretty much identical to the regular Partner although extra safety features such as safety bags, autonomous braking and lane keeping assist come at a premium which on top of a starting price from £32,385 suggests that for now at least, there is still plenty of courting to be done before it becomes a fully-fledged Partner for life!