When it comes to choosing the best-suited van for your mission it tends to be a case of  horses for courses. That being said, if you need to undertake long-distance, inter-city assignments, spending long hours covering hundreds of miles in a safe, well-specified and comfortable cab environment, then the DFSK EC35 is not likely to be your steed of choice.

If you need to cover short distances in tight urban situations, however, then it could be the one to saddle up.

The EC35 is very much a city van. Chinese manufacturer DFSK’s minivans were previously imported into the UK (from 2011 until 2016) with petrol powertrains but have now switched to battery-electric power and this makes far more sense.

DFSK is now being brought to the UK by Innovation Automotive, which is offering the EC35 with a choice of two WLTP-approved ranges, the first being 101 miles with a limited top speed of 62mph – this is the version we drove. The importer claims more than half of UK vans travel fewer than 15 miles per day, making this option adequate for the majority of customers. 

Operators needing to travel further on a single charge, however, can opt for an increased range of up to 166 miles, with a limited top speed of 50mph. 

The EC35 comes with a bargain-basement price tag of £20,999, excluding VAT but including the government’s plug-in van grant. The pay back is that it lacks
the refinement and sophistication of all the other electric vans on the market. 

The EC35 features a 39kWh lithium-ion battery, delivering peak power of 60kW (80hp) and torque of up to 200Nm. Like all plug-in vans the EC35 is quick off the mark when you plant your right foot firmly on the floor but unlike others, such as the Citroen e-Dispatch, Peugeot e-Expert and Vauxhall Vivaro-e, which offer a choice of three driving modes to vary power input depending on payload and driving conditions, the EC35 has just the one. It does not come with an option to increase regenerative braking either – usually found in the form of a B mode button in the cabin – but Innovation Automotive claims regeneration increases as battery charge gets lower. 

With a diminutive footprint, the EC35 is designed for maximum manoeuvrability in the city. It is just 4,500mm long and 1,680mm wide (2,020mm including mirrors), and has a tight 11m turning circle. A height of 1,985mm means it fits easily under car park barriers too.

The van is fine going forward, negotiating narrow entrances and traffic calming barriers with ease. The steering is firm enough when changing direction but the steering wheel itself is not adjustable for reach or rake, which feels like a throwback to a bygone age of motoring. Beyond going backwards and forwards on a rail, there is no scope to adjust the driver and passenger seats either.

Reversing can be an alarming experience, touch the throttle and the van lurches backwards, so it is a relief the EC35 comes with reversing sensors and camera as standard.

DAB radio and Bluetooth are included too but overall the cabin has a spartan, anachronistic feel – the cup holders are too low and the bins in the doors are too narrow for even small water bottles.

Loading credentials are more impressive – payload is a meaty 1,015kg, on par with the larger Stellantis medium-sized electric vans and higher than the Maxus e-Deliver 3 L1 (865kg), which has a similar footprint. Load volume is a useful 4.8m3 and the load floor is protected by a slip-proof rubber lining. The load box can be accessed by twin side doors as well as a rear tailgate. 

Beyond a driver airbag, tyre pressure monitoring system and anti-lock braking and electronic brakeforce distribution there is not a lot offered in the way of safety equipment.

The EC35 is not suitable for everyone but for some of its targeted customers, such as local authorities, campus-based operations and last-mile delivery businesses, it could do a job.


Price (ex VAT, inc PiVG) £20,999

Price range (ex VAT, inc PiVG) £20,999

Insurance group TBC

Warranty 5yrs/75,000mls (battery 8yrs/100,000mls)

Service intervals 1yr/15,000mls

Load length 2,470mm

Load width (min/max) 1,150mm/1,470mm

Load bay height 1,130mm

Gross payload 1,015kg

Load volume 4.8m3

Engine size/power 80hp/60kW electric motor

Range (WLTP) 101mls

CO2 0g/km