Few manufacturers have managed to come up with a credible light commercial that runs solely on battery power. Nissan is one of the shining exceptions and that is why we are more than happy to present its zero-tailpipe-emission e-NV200 with our 2015 Green Van Award.

It’s a practical, useable van with a  gross payload capacity of up to 703kg and a 4.2m3 cargo area. Entry to the load box is by means of twin asymmetric back doors plus a sliding door on each side of the body.

Beneath the cargo bed is a 24kWh 48-module 360v 192-cell laminated lithium-ion battery pack.

It powers a 80kW AC synchronous electric motor mounted under the bonnet and married to a single-speed step-less transmission. A battery charger and inverter complete the package.

Maximum torque is 254Nm; and with an electric motor it is of course all instantly available.

Nissan quotes a range of 106 miles between recharges but this is a little optimistic. A realistic figure would be closer to 70 to 80 miles; still more than sufficient for many businesses.

If you want to ensure your range is maintained once you are under way then press the Eco button and tap the shift lever to the right and into the B for Braking position. That will increase the level of regenerative braking – though not to the extent that you almost stand the vehicle on its nose as was the case with early versions of the electric Renault Kangoo Van Z.E – thereby ensuring that energy that would otherwise be lost is channelled into the battery pack.

Raise a flap on e-NV200’s nose and you will see two ports: one that can draw power from a standard household socket and one for fast charging. Cables are supplied for both.

The battery can be recharged overnight using an ordinary domestic 16-amp single-phase 3.3kW supply Nissan says. Use a 32-amp/6.6kW supply and the recharging time falls to a much-more-modest four hours adds the manufacturer.

You can do even better if you employ a dedicated 50kW quick-charger. Go that route and you can get up to 80% of the battery’s charge back in 30 minutes or less if it is already partially-charged.

Take to the highway in an e-NV200 and you will quickly discover that performance is not an issue even with the Eco button depressed. Just remember that the heavier your right foot is, the faster your available range will shorten and ensure the Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians system is on if you are making urban deliveries. It alerts people to your presence at speeds of below 19mph; essential for road safety given that e-NV200 is so quiet.

Running on electricity is a lot cheaper than running on diesel and the power e-NV200 consumes costs pennies per mile. Exemption from the London Congestion Charge and a zero-rating so far as Vehicle Excise Duty is concerned represent further savings.

Those contemplating acquiring an electric van may worry about how much it will cost to replace the battery pack once it has been in service for a few years. Aware of this concern, Nissan offers operators the choice of either acquiring the entire van outright or opting for Flex, which enables you to cut the front-end price by approximately £5,000 by taking the pack on a lease agreement. Whichever option you choose, you still benefit from the government’s Plug-In Van Grant; which in e-NV200’s case slashes the purchase price by an invaluable 20%.

Did you know?

British Gas has ordered 100 e-NV200 light commercial vehicles after trialling 28 of the plug-in models over a six-month period.


Highly commended – Fiat Ducato

Diesel is by no means dead. That’s one of the messages to be drawn from Fiat Professional’s new Ducato.

While its sister models from Citroen (Relay) and Peugeot (Boxer) employ a 2.2-litre diesel, Fiat has slotted its own 2.3-litre Multijet II into its offering. When deployed in short-wheelbase low-roof vans in 130hp and 150hp guise it returns a highly-creditable 45.6mpg with CO2 emissions of 164g/km when combined with optional Start&Stop; the best figure in class.

As a consequence it merits our Highly Commended award.