Whilst electric cars steal the limelight, it is arguably electric vans that will make the biggest difference when it comes to a zero emission future. In the past 20 years, sales of LCV’s have grown by 59% with over 4.6 million now roaming our roads. Although LCV emissions have decreased in that time, thanks to cleaner diesel & petrol engines, to meet future clean-air targets, businesses will need to consider electric vans. Unsurprisingly, the commercial vehicle manufacturers are busy launching new electric models & the first of these to reach CC&V in 2021 was the Citroen e-Dispatch.
The e-Dispatch is offered in a choice of three trim levels; X, Enterprise & Driver. All come well equipped, with entry level X, featuring DAB, Bluetooth, air-con, cruise control with speed limiter & Citroens Connect Box with Emergency Assistance. Mid-range Enterprise adds a 7″ touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an alarm, rear parking sensors, automatic lights & wipers plus the useful Moduwork dual passenger seat with load-through bulkhead. Choose the range topping Driver & you’ll benefit from SatNav, autonomous emergency braking, front parking sensors, lane departure warning system, blind-spot monitors a 180-degree rear parking camera.
The e-Dispatch is also offered in three sizes; XS, M and XL. These all feature the same roof height, but different body lengths. A bonus, is that there are no differences in load space between the electric & diesel versions of the Dispatch.
In electric form, the e-Dispatch is offered with two batteries. The smaller 50kWh version, which has a range of 148 miles & a larger 75kW version, with an increased range of 211 miles. The larger battery is heavier, therefore the smaller battery versions offer the largest payload, in this case 1,226kg, whilst the 75kW battery powered models offer a 1,000 kg payload.
Both versions feature the same 100kW electric motor, putting out the equivalent of 136bhp. This is good enough for a top speed of 80 mph. The e-Dispatch will also tow up 1,000kg.
Potential customers will want to know the charging times. Using a standard 7.4kW home charger, the smaller battery takes 7hours 30 mins & the larger battery 11 hours & 20 mins to charge from empty. Plug in to the more powerful 11kW wall box & these times are reduced to 4 hours 45 mins & 7 hours respectively. It’s worth noting, that if you utilise the MyCitroen App & you can enable remote cabin pre-conditioning & pre-programme your e-Dispatch to charge up at night when some energy suppliers offer a reduced tariff.
If this is too slow for you, you’ll be pleased to know that the e-Dispatch is also compatible with very powerful public chargers right up to 100kW, which will give the smaller battery an 80% charge in 30 minutes, or the larger battery an 80% charge in 45 minutes.
We were testing the e-Dispatch 75 kWh Auto Panel Van Driver & the good news from the off, is that the electric Dispatch looks just like the diesel model, with just a couple of nods to it’s electric roots, namely a blue e on the front grille & on the rear door in front of Dispatch & the charging port located on the left hand side front wing.
Inside, the interior has a car-like feel to it, with the dashboard dominated by the 7″ Colour touchscreen. It’s also finished in nicely textured plastics, with the sera fabric looking & feeling hard wearing. Apart from the under seat storage, there’s a total of 49-litres of storage space around the cabin, including ubiquitous large door bins, two glove boxes on the passenger side & an A4 sized covered compartment on top of the dash, plus dash-top drinks holders.
I had a good look around my test van before I took it out & it featured the Moduwork bulkhead with a hatch, allowing an additional 1160mm of load length to fit into the cargo area & into the front rear left passenger footwell. There was also a triple-seat folding front bench with under seat storage on both passenger seats. The middle seat can also be folded to create a table for your laptop.
The cabin itself is well designed & it’s easy to reach all of the switches & buttons whilst driving, an important consideration for most van users. as is the view from the front which is also excellent. I spent a week in the drivers seat & found it supportive as well as comfortable & the Dispatch’s suspension allows for a smooth ride as well. The insulated bulkhead on my test van helped to keep the cabin quiet & in sub-zero temperatures, warm !
Once I had charged the e-Dispatch fully at home on my Rolec charger, the total battery range showing was 186 miles. A couple of medium hops along the motorway at a constant 70 mph, proved that when the outside temperature was -2 degrees, the range really does suffer. A 43 mile round trip used up 86 miles of range, with an average return, according to our vans data – e-Dispatch also features within it’s touchscreen menu, a battery charge indicator – of 1.8 miles per kW.
Shorter, local trips at lower speeds proved more fruitful, seeing the van hitting 2.2 miles per kW. The higher return was helped by the fact that e-Dispatch features two regenerative braking modes. These can be engaged pressing the B button located behind D on the e-Toggle gearbox selector, located in the centre console. On the motorway, with far less slowing down, especially on Covid-free roads, it’s more difficult to benefit from this.
With a plethora of medium electric vans hitting the market all at the same time, in the words of Harold Macmillan, ” you’ve never had it so good ! “A week spent in Citroen’s e-Dispatch proved to us, that for many businesses, an electric van would work & the e-Dispatch with its car-like interior, excellent payload & car-like handling would be at the top of that list.
Whilst on paper, the benefits of driving an electric van, far out weigh the negatives, there are a couple of things to bear in mind. Firstly, very cold weather will affect your EV’s range, so adjust your motorway speed down accordingly. And secondly, charging the higher range 75kW van from empty to full, using a 7.4kW home charger, such as our Rolec, is painfully slow, so charge your van up regularly, before the range drops too low.
In conclusion & perhaps staying the blindingly obvious, if you drive the length & breadth of the UK, any electric van is not going to be for you. The range is too small & at motorway speeds, the battery drains far faster. However, if your van use is local, even regional, then a van such as the e-Dispatch really could be a solution. Furthermore, an electric van is plainly cleaner, you don’t need to pay vehicle excise duty, EV’s are currently congestion charge exempt & the Government is still offering a plug-in vehicle grant, which will contribute up to a maximum of £8000, handy as a major caveat, is that our range-topping test van retailed at £43,686 !
At the time of writing to convince you further, Citroen are offering customers a Pod-Point wall box installation at home or at work & is also working with POLAR to offer customers a free six month subscription to the POLAR Plus service, which provides access to a wide range of charging points across the UK. And, we haven’t even mentioned the fuel savings you’ll achieve in an electric van, which will typically cut your monthly expenditure over diesel by 75%.
A Citroen e’s a good 4/5.