Company Van Today - Issue 7 - Autumn 2018

INTERIOR Feels well put together from classy trims. Tech such as sat-nav is standard ON THE ROAD The experience that the driver gets in the e-Crafter is towards the closest yet to that of driving an electric car in van form. The batteries and powertrain are essentially the same as those under the electric version of the Golf hatchback, with a 35.8kW battery and there is a surprising amount of similarity in how the two drive. Despite its size, the e-Crafter is capable of delivering a welcome and hefty wallop of power that provides a useful ability to dart away from the lights, even with a load on board. However, this won’t translate into a rapid 0-62mph time – the van is limited to 56mph anyway. The simplicity of the electric Crafter will be welcomed by its drivers. The cabin essentially mirrors that of the diesel version, with no overly complicated elements to dazzle any driver unused to driving an electric vehicle. The most notable difference is that drivers have to have their seatbelt on before the e-Crafter will start. Otherwise, getting going is a simple case of turning the key and heading off. With a one-speed automatic gearbox and no trickery it is incredibly easy to leap in and get around town. This lack of trickery also means there is no Eco mode, so you have to rely on your own right foot to maintain battery levels. The regenerative braking helps, slowing the van down when you ease off the accelerator, but the absence of different modes means that you can’t increase or decrease the amount that the van slows itself down, and therefore replenish the battery, when you do so. The ride and handling are optimised for urban driving, too, with the steering tight and sharp, and the suspension set up well to deal with lumps and bumps. The even weight distribution and lower centre of gravity brought about by the battery position means that the e-Crafter feels very stable around corners, too. Although the Golf has an official range of 186 miles, the Crafter’s sheer size and brick-wall aerodynamics inevitably take their toll and the official range of 107 miles should translate to around 60 miles of real-world use. The e-Crafter is certainly the most compelling electric van of its size so far, with many of the good things from an electric car carried over, rather than curtailed. The range isn’t yet great, but it will be enough for many urban-based last-mile delivery firms, and the ability to regain 80% of charge in 45 minutes from a 40kW charging point will allow many to top up in a driver’s break. The cost might be high, but the number of punitive inner-city charges are only likely to go up in the coming years. VERDICT: An purpose-built electric van that offers the benefits of an electric car, but expect to pay a premium for being an early adopter. TomWebster SPECS MODEL: VW e-Crafter PAYLOAD: 1.75 tonnes LOAD VOLUME: 10.7m 3 LOAD WIDTH MIN/MAX: 1380mm1832/mm LOAD LENGTH/HEIGHT: 3450mm/1861mm ENGINE POWER: 136hp (100kw) OFFICIAL RANGE: 107 miles REVIEW COMPANY VAN TODAY.CO.UK 17