The all-electric Vauxhall Vivaro-e Elite 3100 75kWh Van offers six seats as well as 4m2 of load space, with an electric driving range of 205 miles.
Until very recently the only main powertrain option for vans was a diesel engine, even if the van was only driven relatively short distances around a site or a local town or city. However now you can buy an all-electric van that can take a payload of almost 1,000kg as well as a driver and five passengers, with an official electric driving range of over 200 miles.
The Vauxhall Vivaro-e Elite 3100 75kWh Van has a 75kWh lithium-ion battery with a 136 bhp (100KW) electric motor, automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.
It’s 5309mm long (compared to 4959mm long for the version without the second row of seats), 2204mm wide including mirrors, and 1905mm high – and that means you should be able to drive under the barriers at your local waste recycling centre, as well as fit in car-width parking bays. It has a gross vehicle weight of 3100kg (excluding the 1,000kg trailer weight). Maximum load width is 1636mm, maximum load height is 1397mm, and load length is 2365mm (compared to 3674mm long for the version without the second row of seats). Maximum payload is 987kg, with 4.0m3 load volume.
The Vivaro-e has two passenger seats next to the driver’s seat, plus a second row of three passenger seats, accessible by two sliding side doors.
There’s a storage compartment under the front two passenger seats, and also under two of the rear passenger seats, which offers convenient storage for the two charging cables, so freeing up load space.
A key interior feature for thirsty van drivers – drinks holders – are quite small, and are high up on top of either end of the dashboard; there’s space for bottles, but very low down in the door pockets.
Gone is the clattery noise of a van diesel engine; in its place the Vivaro-e has a quiet, smooth, refined and responsive electric powertrain. Steering is light (it becomes heavier when the van is loaded), and ride quality is good (it becomes less bouncy when loaded). The Vivaro-e is front-wheel drive and has automatic transmission: it’s easy to drive around town, and it’s comfortable and quiet on the motorway.
There are three drive modes: Normal, Eco and Power. Eco dials back the throttle response, and also the heating. The response in Power mode is much better.
Rather than the traditional large gear lever that you would expect in a van, there’s a small switch, which, when you put it into reverse, sometimes you’ll find that reverse doesn’t become engaged; you need to hold it in place for a couple of seconds to ensure the gear is selected. You also have the option of selecting ‘B’ mode, to capture more brake regeneration (although we’d suggest that this should be the default option).
There are six shortcut buttons around the central 7-inch colour touchscreen, which helps to avoid lots of excessive button-pressing on the screen, and there are separate heating controls. The infotainment system includes Apple CarPlay and satnav. The satnav mapping graphics aren’t great, and at night the map background is dark grey with mid-grey roads, so it’s not very clear. It’s also difficult to zoom out of the map.
There’s a reversing camera, which is really helpful with such a long vehicle. The two windows behind the driver for passengers in the second row of seats help to provide much better visibility during normal driving and when changing lanes on the motorway.
Two key items of equipment that are really needed are a heated driver’s seat and heated steering wheel, as these would help to minimise the amount of cabin heating that’s needed, which is a big drain on the battery.
The official WLTP electric driving range for the Vauxhall Vivaro-e Van is 205 miles. The predicted range during our week-long test of the van – both empty and loaded – was typically displayed as 183 miles in Normal mode and 188 miles in Eco mode, although the actual real-world range fell short of this by around 40 miles. To maximise your driving range you need to select Eco drive mode, keep the cabin temperature down, don’t go much above 60mph, and avoid carrying lots of heavy loads – the latter obviously being a potential challenge with a van.
Charging times for the Vauxhall Vivaro-e Van (which has a 7.4kW on-board charger) are 11 hours 20 minutes for 0-100% battery capacity using a (single phase) 32A wallbox (7.4kW); 7 hours for 0-100% battery capacity using a three phase (workplace) 16A wallbox (11kW); and 48 minutes for 15-80% battery capacity using a 100kW DC rapid charger.
The Vauxhall Vivaro-e Elite Doublecab 3100 75kWh costs £40,528 after the recently revised Government Plug In Van Grant which now pays for 35% of the purchase price up to a maximum of £6,000.
Although the all-electric Vivaro-e is more expensive than the diesel Vivaro in terms of outright purchase cost, you need to compare the total cost of ownership. Vauxhall claims that the Vivaro-e Elite 3100 75kWh costs 2.1p per mile to run, compared to the Diesel version costing 10.3p per mile.
You can also choose a Vivaro-e with a 50kWh battery with a range of 143 miles.
There’s an 8 year/100,000 miles @ 70% capacity battery warranty.
Diesel vans are a key contributor to local air pollution issues, so the view from Green Car Guide is that it’s great that at last there are electric vans on sale with decent driving ranges. The prices of electric vans are still higher than diesel vans, but the total cost of ownership of electric vans is likely to be lower for many people.
The Vivaro-e Doublecab, with six seats, is an interesting vehicle, as potentially it could also prove practical for a large family with lots of equipment such as bikes. And as well as having no tailpipe emissions, it’s better to drive than a diesel van. The Vauxhall Vivaro-e Doublecab Elite 3100 75kWh gains a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.