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Road Test: Volkswagen e-Crafter

Volkswagen takes first step in electric van market with e-Crafter launch, says Dan Gilkes.

Volkswagen e-Crafter

Sector Large van     Price €69,500 (Germany)     Payload 970-1,720kg     Load volume 10.7m3

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will launch the e-Crafter electric van in September, though right-hand drive models will not be available until 2020. However, VW will bring a small number of left-hand drive models to the UK in 2019, to assess customer demand and to provide demonstration vehicles.

First seen at the IAA commercial vehicle show in Hanover in 2016, the e-Crafter will initially be available in a single, 10.7m3 panel van body, though with a choice of 3.5 and 4.25-tonne gross weights. The 3.5-tonne van offers a payload of 970kg, while the heavier van will carry up to 1,720kg. In both cases, the battery pack, which is shared with the e-Golf, is carried below the van’s body, so there is no loss of load volume.

The e-Crafter uses a VW Group synchronous motor delivering 100kW (136bhp) of peak power and 290Nm of torque. This drives the front wheels through a single-speed transmission. Volkswagen claims a potential NEDC range of around 170km (105 miles) is possible and the van has a top speed of 56mph. The e-Crafter is equipped with a Combined Charging System (CCS) fast charger that can take the batteries to 80% in just 45 minutes, using a 40kW DC supply. A 7.2kW AC wall box will require five hours and 20 minutes to provide a 100% charge from empty.

As with the diesel Crafter, the electric van is very well equipped, with LED headlights, climate control, heated seats and satellite navigation as standard. However, unlike the new Mercedes Sprinter, the van is not equipped with an on-board internet connection. The vans do come with a host of safety features though, including Automatic Post-Collision Braking, cross-wind assist and ParkPilot.

The e-Crafter is very quiet on the move, with full torque providing plenty of acceleration in town. It’s a comfortable, well-equipped van that is simple to drive, with light, direct steering and reasonably supple suspension, even when unladen. Unlike some competitors, there is no facility to alter the amount of regeneration available under deceleration, however VW’s engineers have done a good job of calibrating the amount of braking available.

Volkswagen has been testing the e-Crafter with 25 companies in Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Sweden. UK participants included Gatwick and Heathrow airports, Southwark Council and Cambridge City Council.

For the UK, Volkswagen is preparing a total cost of ownership tool, that dealers will be able to use to assist fleet managers in making the shift to electric power. The company is also looking to appoint an infrastructure partner, to provide charging points and to assess electricity requirements within customer premises.

UK pricing has not been announced yet, but in Germany the e-Crafter will start at €69,500 (£62,500). The company is also expected to provide the van with an eight-year battery warranty.

The launch of e-Crafter signals the start of an electric mobility campaign within VW Commercial Vehicles, with more news due at next month’s IAA commercial vehicle show in Hanover. 2020 is expected to be a big year for e-mobility for Volkswagen in the UK.

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Written by Dan Gilkes

Dan has been a commercial vehicle and construction equipment journalist for almost 30 years. An automotive engineer and former fleet manager, he has driven almost every van, pickup and truck that has been launched in Europe over that time. As editor of VFW, his aim is to keep readers up to date with the latest developments in the light commercial world.

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