A growing focus for the brand in the near future is on establishing a foothold in the electric van market, starting with the launch of the e-Caddy Maxi in the second half of 2018.
An e-Transporter and an e-Crafter are set to follow in 2020 and 2021, respectively. The 3.2t electric Transporter will be offered in long-wheelbase form only but with a choice of two batteries to cater for customers prioritising either payload or range.
The version with a 38.8kWh battery will cover a New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) rated 134 miles on a single charge but will offer a meaty payload of 1,186kg, while opt for the bigger 77.6kWh battery capacity and you get a range extended to 250 miles but a payload cut to 695kg. The load volume for both derivatives is 6.7m3.
Volkswagen sees the e-Crafter as a van for urban operators covering last-mile deliveries and thus requiring a range not likely to exceed 62 miles, although it quotes 107 miles on the NEDC cycle.
In another reflection of how the brand sees the e-Crafter as a strictly urban machine, the top speed is limited to 56mph.
It gets the 38.8kWh battery, and in core 3.5t medium wheel-base, high-roof mode comes with a 10.7m3 load space and 975kg payload.
Volkswagen claims a trial of left-hand drive e-Crafters in and around London has been a success and met the needs of the City of London Corporation, Southwark Council and Gatwick and Heathrow airports, which use the vans for limited mileage tasks.
The manufacturer says the appetite for electric vans is growing and to back up this claim cites a survey that found 70% of its customers are likely to buy an electric van in the future. Curiously, electric vehicle enthusiasm was higher among owner/drivers and SMEs than fleets. Volkswagen says this is because while smaller operators know electric power represents the future, large fleets have more awareness of the current limitations of the technology and of the difficulties in incorporating the vehicles into their operations.
Electric vans cannot yet replace diesel and petrol in all applications and apart from payload, efficient charging presents the biggest obstacle.
To address this Volkswagen set up the Elli energy and charging business in 2018 to help its customers make the transition to electric vehicles, covering everything from charging boxes to tariffs to load management.
“It will make it easy for customers to roll out EVs,” said Hanna and in these tough times, easing the customer burden is the name of the game for Volkswagen.