Vauxhall's award-winning all-electric Vivaro-e van is a powerful proposition
David Roy on why Vauxhall's Vivaro-e makes a sensible all-electric alternative to diesel-powered load-lugging...
THE new all-electric Vauxhall Vivaro-e got 2021 off to a headline-grabbing start back in February when it was named International Van of The Year.
OK, so the Vivaro-e has to share this accolade with its near-identical Groupe PSA EMP2 multi-energy platform siblings, the Peugeot e-Expert and the Citroen e-Jumpy (known as the Citroen e-Dispatch in Ireland and GB, rather disappointingly) – but neither of them are made at Vauxhall's traditional manufacturing homebase in Luton.
Perhaps that's part of the reason why the Vivaro-e has continued to swell Vauxhall's collection of mantelpiece dust-gatherers at various British van awards over the past few months.
The Vivaro-e recently won Electric Van of the Year at the Auto Express New Car Awards – where it was praised for its "impressive range from a single charge" and "its modularity and practicality" – as well as being selected as What Car?'s Van of The Year, Van of The Year and EV Van of The Year by Van Fleet World and named Best Electrified Commercial Vehicle at the Driving Electric awards.
Clearly then, Them What Knows All About Vans have been queuing up to give it their coveted seals of approval. And why wouldn't they?
There's those impressive range statistics for a start: the Vivaro-e has the longest single-charge range of any all-electric van currently available, an impressive 205 miles for versions fitted with a larger 75kWh battery.
Payload wise, the Vivaro-e is also best in its class, capable of lugging loads weighing up to 1,226kg. The fact that it's the only all-electric light commercial vehicle capable of towing a trailer with a load of up to one tonne puts a further feather in its metaphorical cap, particularly for buyers who know they'll be conducting business of a heavy-duty nature.
The Vivaro-e has the exact same internal/external dimensions as Vauxhall's popular diesel-powered Vivaro, while load capacity is reduced by just 232kg for the standard Panel Van configuration with 50kWh battery. Indeed, the two vehicles share the same bodyshell, with the Vivaro-e swapping Vauxhall's diesel engine and gearbox for a front-wheel drive electric motor and battery packs – the same electric running gear as the Vauxhall Corsa-e.
Before you raise a quizzical Roger Moore-esque eyebrow at the wisdom of basing a work vehicle on the same electric platform as a small family hatchback, know that the Vivaro-e's 136bhp electric motor has been specially 'tuned' for light commercial use, offering 192lb/ft of torque. The Vivaro-e also gets that larger, range-extending 75kWh battery option – and, when it comes to ride quality, the all-electric van actually benefits from this injection of 'car DNA'.
The Vauxhall Vivaro-e is available in two trims, Dynamic and Elite, two lengths, L1H1 and L2H1, Panel Van and Doublecab body styles – the latter offering an extra row of seats, similar to the Vivaro-e Life people carrier – and two battery sizes, 50kWh and 75kWh: the latter is available as a £4,500 option on Dynamic models and comes as standard equipment on all Elite variants, though it does mean that load-capacity is slightly reduced due to its extra weight.
Vauxhall claim that, with a half-payload onboard, even the Vivaro-e's smaller 50kW battery will affords it 144 miles of all-electric range under Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure conditions: that's around 50 miles further than more expensive competitors like the Mercedes eVito and Volkswagen ABT e-Transporter.
To put those range stats in context, the average annual fleet mileage is 20,000 miles, or around 76 miles per day – meaning that the Vivaro-e should be more than capable of putting in a full shift on a single charge.
Drivers can select one of three driving modes, 'Power', 'Normal' and 'Eco' depending on their requirements: 'Power' delivers increased performance for heavier loads, 'Normal' provides optimised performance for daily use, while 'Eco' offers the lowest possible energy consumption.
There's also an adjustable Regenerative Braking System which slows the van while capturing range-extending kinetic energy every time you lift your foot off the quiet pedal. Using the highest setting means that you can actually make short journeys without ever having to touch the brake pedal.
100kW charging capability is available as standard, enabling rapid charging of the 50kW battery from zero to 80 per cent in 32 minutes and the larger battery in just 48 minutes. The onboard charger is rated 7.4kW, with a faster three-phase 11kW unit available as an option.
Fleet-orientated Dynamic-spec comes with steel wheels, black bumpers and driver aids like cruise control, automatic lights/wipers and rear parking sensors. It's comfortable to drive too, thanks to a six-way adjustable driver's seat with lumbar adjustment and armrest, and there's also a touchscreen controlled DAB radio/AM/FM stereo radio with Bluetooth connectivity for mobile phones to keep you amused/informed on the go.
Connected services are available via MyVauxhall App, including remote charging with the ability to defer charging, and cabin temperature pre-conditioning – ideal for prepping your van on cold winter mornings or during summer heatwaves.
Elite trim adds to the Vivaro-e's aesthetic appeal with alloy wheels, body-coloured bumpers and extra on-board toys like integrated sat-nav and front and rear parking sensors. However, the Elite models also get super practical features like double-sided sliding doors and a through-loading bulkhead (in Panel Van spec only, obviously) as standard.
Seating space up-front is decent, unless you're the middle passenger in the three-abreast configuration: whomever draws that short straw will find that the console housing the automatic gearbox controls protrudes from the dashboard in a manner which places it on a collision course with their knees. A single passenger seat configuration is available as a no-cost option for those who only need to have one co-pilot onboard.
On-the-road prices start from £29,198.33 (including £6,000 Plug-in Car Grant) for the entry level L1H1 Dynamic Panel Van 3100, rising to £42,493.33 (including £6,000 Plug-in Car Grant) for the range-topping L2H1 Elite Doublecab 3100 with all options ticked.
Although at £25,058.33, a base-spec diesel Vivaro Edition Panel Van has a lower on-the-road cost than its Vivaro-e Dynamic Panel Van equivalent, the Vivaro-e's higher initial purchase price is of course countered by lower everyday running costs.
Vauxhall estimate that the Vivaro-e offers users savings of around £100 a month in fuel costs when compared to its diesel-powered sibling, and that's before you even factor in reduced spending on tax and servicing costs – not to mention the satisfaction of knowing you're helping to save the planet with zero emissions every time you hit the road.
No wonder the Vivaro-e has already proved itself such a winner.
VAUXHALL VIVARO-E – AT A GLANCE
- Priced from £29,198.33 (including £6,000 Plug-in Car Grant)
- All-electric, zero-emission with a choice of 50kWh or 75kWh battery with up to 205-mile electric range
- 48 minutes to 80 per cent charge with rapid charging
- 136hp/100kW electric motor with 192lb/ft/260Nm torque
- Only fully-electric Light Commercial Vehicle capable of towing a trailer
VIVARO-E: STANDARD EQUIPMENT
Automatic transmission with e-toggle shift, electric parking brake, electronic stability programme with traction control, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, hill-start assist, driver and front passengers' airbag, remote control central deadlocking with selective door locking, full-height steel bulkhead, six-way adjustable driver's seat with lumbar adjustment and armrest, dual front passengers' bench seat with under-seat storage, multi-function trip computer, 3.5-inch digital instrument cluster, cruise control, speed limiter, Vauxhall Connect box, multimedia infotainment unit with seven-inch colour touchscreen, DAB radio/AM/FM stereo radio, Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel mounted audio and phone controls, nearside and offside sliding side-access doors with twin solid rear doors, electrically operated front windows with one-touch facility, electrically adjustable/heated door mirrors, remote control security alarm system, driver drowsiness alert (based on driving time), front fog lights, rear parking distance sensors, rain-sensitive windscreen wipers, automatic lighting control, front cornering lights, 16-inch steel wheels with full-diameter wheel trims, steel spare wheel