The Nissan e-NV200 is the world's first all-electric seven-seat MPV, according to the Japanese car firm. Based on the NV200 van, the electric people-carrier joins existing 1.5 dCi versions of the Combi.
Nissan says it caters for a demand from private hire companies and shuttle services and could also appeal to larger families.
The e-NV200 uses the same basic electric powertrain as the Nissan Leaf. The electric motor develops a modest 107bhp and a useful 187lb ft of torque from start.
However, despite the NV200’s much greater frontal area (and increased drag at higher speeds), it still has the same 24kWh battery as the Leaf. Although the e-NV200 isn’t too heavy (between 1517 and 1564kg, depending on the specification), the official range is just 106 miles.
Nissan also makes much of the e-NV200’s load-carrying ability. It can be specified with either five or seven seats in three rows.
To increase cargo room, the two seats in the third row can be folded up against the insides of the car. The middle-row three-person bench seat can also be folded and tumbled out of the way, further increasing load capacity. With all the seats pushed out of the way, Nissan says the e-NV200 can swallow three full-size bikes, with the front wheels still attached.
The e-NV200 Combi comes with a choice of two trim levels (Acenta and Tekna) and three charging options (standard, Rapid and Rapid Plus) in both five and seven-seat forms. There are also range-topping Evalia versions.
Standard models can be charged via a domestic three-pin socket in seven hours, while the Rapid versions take four hours to top up via a 50kW DC charging point. The Plus versions include high-speed 6.6kW AC on-board charging capability.
This is a van, however, so you can’t expect too much of it once on the move. By far the biggest demerit is the cart-sprung rear axle. We drove the e-NV200 two up and, with little weight over the rear wheels, the back end skipped and crashed over ridges and obstacles. It would no doubt be less reactive with passengers and cargo on board, though.
The biggest upside is being able to drive a van that is so quiet, smooth and effortless in traffic. With no roaring diesel engine and no manual gearbox requiring endless shifts to stay on the torque curve, the e-NV200 makes light work of heavy traffic.
However, it doesn't take long to discover the e-NV200’s limitations, particularly in hot weather. To my surprise, the top speed of 76mph doesn't prove to be a huge problem. A decent slug of torque and single-speed transmission means that the van is able to keep up with other traffic and change lanes in safety.
However, the battery clearly will take a battering in cut-and-thrust situations. First, high temperatures and the vehicle's huge windscreen demand use of the air conditioning. This is a large cabin, so the climate control will be putting a strain on the battery in much of the summer and winter. The vehicle’s big frontal area and capacity for people and luggage will also put the battery under strain on faster runs.
With a rated range, in good conditions, of around 20% less than the Leaf hatch, there’s no doubt that this vehicle is best as a local area shuttle. It comes as no surprise, then, that it's also available in taxi spec, with much more rear leg room.
If, say, you have a local area taxi service or are a hotel near a railway station or airport, the passenger-carrying e-NV200 could make a lot of sense, especially if you can install a quick charger in the vehicle’s parking space.
Nissan is also making much of the in-service advantages, such as the ability to live-track data (such as driving and charging history) and monitor the health of the vehicle. Fuel costs will be much lower (domestic electricity is not super-taxed like petrol and diesel, so expect around 2p per mile) and maintenance can be up to 40% cheaper compared with a 1.5-litre diesel NV200, according to Nissan.
The price range for the e-NV200 spans from £23,090 for the entry-level Acenta five-seater to £27,260 for the plush and quick-charging Tekna Rapid Plus seven-seater.
Buyers can elect to lease the battery over a sliding scale of time and mileage. Over three years and up to 6000 miles per year, it costs £73.20. Twelve months and 12,000 miles per year is £90 per month.
This battery-leasing package reduces the price of the entry model to £18,085 and the flagship model to £22,255.
It’s not impossible that a big family with the ability to install rapid charging could be attracted to the e-NV200, but it is clearly best for local shuttling, where the low fuel and maintenance costs could make it add up for a small business.
However, what’s likely to be a short range in high summer and deep winter and the limited motorway legs do truncate the e-NV200’s usability.
Nissan e-NV200 Tekna Rapid Combi
Price £23,400; Engine Electric motor, 24kWh battery; Power 107bhp; Torque 187lb ft; Gearbox Single-speed; Kerb weight 1571kg; Top speed 76mph; 0-62mph 14.0sec; Range 106 miles; CO2/tax band 0g/km, 5%