Posted by Jim Martin 27 June 2014
Nissan e-NV200: a first look at the all-electric van that’s loaded with tech
Electric vehicles, or EVs if you’re in the trade, are slowly gaining acceptance: ranges are increasing to more practical distances and there are more models to choose between. We took a look at the e-NV200, Nissan’s second all-electric vehicle to find out how EV tech is evolving. See also: Vauxhall Adam review
It doesn’t take a genius to realise that petrol and diesel isn’t going to be around forever. Manufacturers have been working on renewable alternatives for a while, with electric motors being the current favourite; hydrogen fuel cells are still a way off.
Electric vehicles, or EVs if you’re in the trade, are slowly gaining acceptance: ranges are increasing to more practical distances and there are more models to choose between. We took a look at the e-NV200, Nissan’s second all-electric vehicle to find out how EV tech is evolving.
The e-NV200 is a cross between the existing NV200 diesel van and the electric LEAF, which has been around for a couple of years. The design has been updated to make it look a bit more exciting with blue tinted, arrow-shaped daytime running lamps and LED rear lights, while the electrics and suspension from the LEAF have been improved and adapted to work in a van.
It makes a lot of sense. Delivery vans and taxis drive more miles than just about any other type of vehicle, and switching to electric reduces pollution and noise. It also cuts down on servicing costs and – crucially – on fuel bills. The electricity cost for recharging the e-NV200 is roughly three or four times less than diesel. Nissan says it could costs just 2p per mile thanks to the combination of fuel saving and lower maintenance costs.
As well as being available as a van which can carry two standard pallets, it’s also available as a five-seater Combi which could be ideal for use as a taxi thanks to the huge space for luggage. Nissan is also working on a seven-seater version.
The e-NV200 doesn’t merely swap a diesel for an electric power plant. It also upgrades van equipment levels to be more in line with cars. Naturally, the toys you get depend on which model you buy, so the satnav (Nissan Connect) is a £500 option on the cheaper Accenta models, as is air con, which costs £450. If you want a fast charging port next to the standard 3.3Kw socket, that’s £555.
Buy a Tekna Rapid, and you get Nissan Connect and Carwings, Nissan’s remote control app and telematics system that allows you to track a fleet and get automatic reports.
What all models get as standard is the digital dashboard from the LEAF, plus keyless entry and start. A reversing camera is standard – particularly handy in a van with limited visibility to the rear – as is auto headlights and auto wipers, heated seats and even a heated steering wheel.
As ever, we’re most interested in the tech. In the e-NV200, Nissan’s infotainment system combines Bluetooth hands-free calling, satnav, the rear-view camera monitor, Carwings, plus information on the van’s power use.
For audio, there’s an FM/AM radio, and a CD player: the motorised screen flips down so you can insert or remove CDs.
It has a 7in matte touchscreen, which is resistive rather than capacitive, but the absence of glare is worth the trade-off. The widescreen aspect ratio means you can choose various side-by-side satnav views, such as turn details next to a top-down map view.
As you’d expect, the points of interest database includes the locations of all electric charging stations, but it does warn you to check that your chosen one is operational before you set off.
Hit the Zero Emissions button and you’ll get a eight icons with an energy theme. Tap Driving Range, for example, and you’ll see the range, based on the current charge, overlaid on the map. Nearby stations shows your nearest charging point.
Energy information shows how much power the motor, climate control and other electrical systems are using, along with estimates of range and how much extra range you could get if you turn off climate control, for example.
Hidden down in the centre console where you’d usually find the gear stick is a USB port which will charge up your devices, and even play music if your phone is compatible. If it isn’t, there’s a standard aux port or you can use Bluetooth audio to stream music through the van’s speakers.
The Carwings app is available for iOS and Android, and lets you connect to your e-NV200 to remotely check its charge level and estimated range. You can also start and stop it charging via the app, and even get it to pre-heat or cool the cabin to a certain temperature by a set time: great for cold mornings or hot afternoons.
Thanks to the current government grant, you still get a decent discount on the list price of electric vehicles and for certain companies, electric vans make perfect sense.