The Citroen e-Dispatch 75kWh Van offers a payload of 1,000kg together with a 100% electric powertrain, which makes it much better to drive than a diesel van, as well as having zero tailpipe emissions.
Increasing numbers of electric cars have been appearing over recent years, but there haven’t been many all-electric vans offering decent space and a practical driving range, which is bad, because diesel vans create lots of emissions. However all that’s now changing, and the Citroen e-Dispatch is an example of one of the latest all-electric vans with a 1000kg payload.
The Citroen e-Dispatch Van has a 75kWh lithium-ion battery with a 136 bhp (100KW) electric motor. It’s 4959mm long, 2204mm wide including mirrors, and 1899mm high – and that means you should be able to drive under the barriers at your local waste recycling centre (as we did), as well as fit in car-width parking bays, which is good. It weighs 2025kg and has a gross vehicle weight of 3025kg. Maximum load width is 1628mm, maximum load height is 1397mm, and load length is 3674mm. Maximum payload is 1000kg, with 5.8m3 load volume.
The e-Dispatch has two passenger seats in addition to the driver’s seat, two rear doors, and two sliding side doors. Although there’s lots of space in the cabin, the cup holders – surely an important feature when loading and unloading boxes all day – are positioned at the far ends on top of the dashboard – not the most convenient places.
Another feature that would be really useful is a storage compartment for the charging cables, ideally under the bonnet, but no such thing exists, so the cables either get in the way in the back of the van, or in the passenger compartment.
Diesel cars have become more refined over the years, but diesel vans still feel slightly agricultural to drive, as well as producing unwelcome emissions. In contrast, the all-electric Citroen e-Dispatch is quiet, refined and civilised to drive. This applies to driving in urban areas – where electric vans need to replace diesel vans as urgently as possible – and also on the motorway.
The e-Dispatch has three drive modes: Eco, Normal and Power (it starts off in Normal and you need to select Eco or Power). There’s automatic transmission, and despite being front-wheel drive, there’s an excellent turning circle, which all helps to make this a very easy companion in cities. The driving position is more van-like than car-like – no surprise perhaps – but it’s better than many vans we’ve driven.
The infotainment system is generally good, with a 7-inch colour touchscreen, shortcut buttons, satnav and Apple CarPlay, and the most important feature in any vehicle these days, a USB socket.
The heating controls are separate to the touchscreen, which is good, although the controls are small and fiddly – very un-van-like.
There’s a head-up display, and the controls to adjust the position of it are on the dashboard rather than hidden in the touchscreen, which is excellent.
There’s a reversing camera, which should have been a standard fitment on vans for years as rear visibility is so bad, but this hasn’t been the case.
So lots of good points – but what about the bad points?
Well, you’ve got your new electric van, but you still need to put your key in the ignition (which isn’t lit at night), which seems somewhat old-fashioned.
However our main complaint relates to the gear selector, which is a very, very small, fiddly switch, and it often seems difficult to select reverse gear (it seems that you have to hold it in position for a while to successfully engage reverse). You’re left with the feeling that a van needs a large, easy to select gear lever. And at night, the gear selector isn’t lit, so you can’t even see it when it’s very dark. The lettering next to the gear selector indicating the different positions is small, and again hard to see at night, and you press the buttons for P and B (for increased regen), but you don’t press R, N or D. Whilst we’re obviously in favour of progress with cars and vans, we’d definitely prefer a traditional (old fashioned) gear selector!
When we took delivery of the van, it emitted a deafening noise like a huge bird chirping on the approach to speed cameras; there was a lot of crazed button pressing on the touchscreen and thankfully somehow we managed to turn off the noise.
Although there’s cruise control, this is hidden behind the steering wheel spoke.
One thing that all EVs need – which the e-Dispatch didn’t have – is heated seats and a heated steering wheel, to avoid having to use the heating for the cabin, which reduces battery range.
The official WLTP electric driving range (WLTP) for the Citroen e-Dispatch Van is up to 211 miles. We consistently averaged 180 miles when empty (with temperatures at around zero degrees). The secret to achieving a decent real-world range is driving at sensible speeds – 60mph maximum ideally, selecting Eco mode, minimising the heating temperature, and not carrying lots of weight in the back (the latter may be an issue with a van).
Charging times for the Citroen e-Dispatch Van (which has a 7KW on-board charger) are 11 hours 20 minutes for 0-100% charge using a (single phase) 32A wallbox (7.4kW); 7 hours for 0-100% charge using a three phase (workplace) 16A wallbox (11kW); and 45 minutes for 15-80% charge using a 100kW DC rapid charger.
The Citroen e-Dispatch Van costs £43,686 after the UK government £8,000 Plug In Van Grant. Standard equipment includes remote central locking, head-up display, cruise control, electrically folding heated door mirrors and front and rear parking sensors with blind spot monitoring and rear parking camera. Our test vehicle had the option of 17-inch alloy wheels (£100). The e-Dispatch has a 2 year or 25,000 mile service interval, and an 8 year/100,000 miles @ 70% capacity battery warranty.
The Citroen e-Dispatch Van is much better to drive than a diesel van, and it’s much better from a health point of view due to zero tailpipe emissions. So why doesn’t everyone buy an electric van rather than the diesel model? Well, at £43,686 after the UK government £8,000 Plug In Van Grant, the electric version is more expensive than the diesel model which can be bought for around £23,000 (+ VAT). Many potential buyers may stop at that point, but they would be missing the whole-life cost story: when the much cheaper running costs of electric vans are taken into account, electric vans will have lower overall costs for many people.
The Citroen e-Dispatch Van gains a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.