Lithium nickel cobalt manganese batteries mounted under eBipper’s load bed provide the power and take around eight-and-a-half hours to recharge from a domestic power supply. The option to plug them into a three-phase supply is in the pipeline which will cut the charging time to no more than three hours.
Their weight cuts the gross payload to a modest 375kg compared with the 610kg offered by the standard diesel model. However their positioning means that they do not steal space from the 2.5cu m load area.
Claimed maximum range between recharges is 60 miles. Allied admits however that the real-world figure is more like 50 to 55 miles while stressing that even hard driving would be unlikely to push it below 45 miles. Regenerative braking helps to keep the batteries topped up.
Top speed is 65mph and the Ansaldo electric motor has a nominal output of 15kW. Peak output is 30kW.
While the absence of an engine means that eBipper produces zero exhaust emissions, it burns a small amount of fuel in cold weather as it’s fitted with a diesel-fired Eberspacher cab heater. Relying on electric heating would place too much of a load on the batteries. The Eberspacher heater can be run on red diesel.
Settle down behind the wheel and you’ll immediately spot a dashboard-top display that tells you how much charge is left in the battery. Seems a pity that this data isn’t displayed in the main instrument cluster, but Allied has plans to do so.
In the meantime, the display marks the vehicle out as a conversion – albeit an otherwise well-executed one – rather than a fully-integrated Peugeot factory product.
The other thing you will spot is a simple shift stick that gives you three choices; Drive, Neutral or Reverse. Turn the ignition key, wait five seconds, turn it again, and you’re away.
With an electric motor maximum torque is available instantly, and eBipper accelerates strongly away from rest. Its size and the performance on tap allow it to nip smartly through any gaps in city centre traffic, making it the ideal urban warrior.
Aside from a well-suppressed whine from the electric motor it goes about its business quietly enough. However the absence of engine noise throws all the other sources – tyres walloping the tarmac for example – into sharper focus.
Drive an eBipper into central London and you can claim exemption from the congestion charge. So far as road tax is concerned your vehicle is zero-rated and Allied claims that the per-mile fuel bill will be one-fifth that of the equivalent-sized diesel van.
With no engine to worry about, maintenance costs are modest too.
All the batteries and electric motor require is an annual check. Everything else is serviced in line with the standard Peugeot maintenance regime, which means a 20,000 mile interval between workshop visits.
A three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty embraces the electric motor and the batteries while the rest of the van is covered by Peugeot’s standard warranty.
There is one huge drawback however and that’s the front-end price. An eBipper costs a jaw-dropping £40,000 plus VAT, although that does include the battery pack.
The pack will eventually need replacing, although Allied points out that its ability to hold a charge – which affects the range – deteriorates slowly, at no more than 0.5 to 3% a year.
While some government financial support is available to public sector fleets, there’s zero state assistance on offer to private sector owners of electric vans in the UK to help offset their high cost; and there’s not even anything in the pipeline.