Fly to Dublin they said. Meet up with the Harris Group they said. Drive some LDV van’s they said. Try the EV version they said. An EV LDV ? Surely a Chinese manufacturer could not have produced a large EV van & bring it to market before the might of Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Ford et al ? Yes they can. Currently, of the major van players in Europe only IVECO has tackled the potential of electric vans, with Renaults Master ZE due at the end of 2018, so the fact that UK & Ireland importer of LDV, the Harris Group, are lucky enough to have the Chinese car company SAIC as its parent company, is the reason why.
On the outside the EV80 looks no different to the standard V80 panel van. Available in LWB medium roof size, as a 3,500kg panel van, plus as a chassis cab, LDV have really grabbed the bull by the horns by offering an electric range well ahead of most of the other major van manufacturer’s
As with the diesel version, the EV80 panel van offers a load length of 3.3m & a width of 1.7m, offering a total load area of 10.3 cubic metres
What is affected though, is the electric vans load capacity, which because of the battery weight is only 950kg. Range is 120 miles & LDV claims that it can be recharged in just an hour. Cost may be prohibitive as well, with the retail asking price £62,00 for the panel van, £58,000 for the chassis cab, when the standard diesel V80 costs under £15,000. The good news though, is that if you buy one, the UK government will give you £8,000 towards the purchase price of both EV versions & of course, there are no fuel costs either. Result !
Climb aboard & you are met with the same dashboard as the regular V80, with the addition of a digital range display & a battery charge indicator. Big, user-friendly buttons are a bonus. The audio system features FM and AM, while USB & headphone sockets are included. The main wing mirrors are electrically adjustable via a small switch on the driver’s door by the A-pillar & they’re heated, too. The seat adjusters for the driver’s seat worked well, but did feel lightweight. The windscreen gives a clear view ahead & with the large side mirrors, with manually adjustable secondary mirrors below them, you can see well all around as well.
Passenger space means that there’s enough room to sit three abreast in comfort in the cab. The two passengers sit on a fixed bench, with some space underneath the seats for storage. The high-roof model features overhead storage trays. For tea & coffee, you get a twin cup-holder, ashtray- very 1980’s- a 12v socket, glovebox, deep door bins plus, in keeping with the competition a couple of dashtop trays either side of the instruments for your loose ends.
Where the standard diesel V80 has high emissions of 248g/km & when I drove it, I averaged around 29mpg, the electric version offers a zero cost solution. In contrast to other large electric vans, the EV80 comes with a single choice of battery pack size, a decent 56kWh, with the 320Nm of output only 10Nm less than the diesel.
From a standing start, the EV80 offers the torque delivery of an electric motor & the silence is a little disconcerting. LDV quotes a 0-62mph time of 24 seconds, but to be fair it doesn’t feel that slow as the torque always makes this van feel nippy.
The gearbox, a ‘digital intelligent CVT, means the EV80 is an automatic, so it’s miles more relaxing than a normal manual gearbox. There’s also a noticeable reduction of noise inside the cab & there’s no diesel vibration though the seats either.
We drove the EV80 unladen, so it is well to remember that although we believe that a range of 80-100 miles is feasible before you need to re charge, the EV80’s driving range will go up or down, based on the size of payload in the back & the number of passengers in the front.
We drove the EV80 on several hilly country roads south of Dublin & with the added bonus the CVT box & no gear stick, it was an enjoyable experience. Driving onto a wet, damp field, I forgot that the battery pack hangs low, reducing ground clearance to 165mm & that with the battery, the EV80 is much heavier than the diesel variant & we promptly got stuck. You can’t ‘use’ the gears & clutch found in a conventional van, to lay down the power softly, to allow you to get going again, so my cock-up was in reality an example to all to remember that a heavier van, electric or not, that isn’t 4WD, with lower clearance needs to be considered, when you go onto a building site or any off road location.
In conclusion, the EV80 is potentially a solution to those who use their large panel van in urban areas over short-medium distances. This would include the public sector & educational facilities, but also ANY business whose fleet of vans require a 3.5 tonne payload & only cover shorter distances, ideally in or around an urban area.
It’s expensive when compared to sister model the V80 diesel, but when the bigger van companies launch their versions – Renault Trucks Master ZE will be similarly priced but with a shorter range – new electric vans from Mercedes-Benz, MAN & Volkswagen will undoubtedly cost even more. The short term expense of the EV80, has to be weighed against the savings you would make running an EV over a 5 year ownership. And, with the UK government heading towards electric, the LDV EV80 really is at present the only large electric van in plentiful supply, that’s also been tried & tested.
An Electric 3.75/5.