The compact Maxus is a rarity – a van that was built to be electric from the start. Dan Gilkes found it an easy drive on a route that took in the glowering presence of Suffolk’s Sizewell power station.
The electric revolution appears to be arriving rapidly, with new EV vans promised by a host of manufacturers. However, to date at least, almost all of those LCVs have been conversions from a standard diesel model, or designed to work as either an EV or a diesel van.
With the Maxus e Deliver 3, that is not the case. The compact Chinese van was designed from the word go solely as an electric vehicle. There are no concessions to engines and gearboxes, no space for an exhaust system or a clutch mechanism. It is a pure EV, despite fairly conventional looks. The van uses plenty of aluminium and polymer composite materials in its construction, to keep overall weight low. Without a conventional front grille, it also has a slippery shape.
The e Deliver 3 is offered in two wheelbases and a single roof height, resulting in load volumes of 4.8m3 and 6.3m3. The LWB model can also be had as a chassis cab, allowing customers to opt for a range of body types. The shorter van has a payload of 865-905kg, depending on battery capacity, while the longer vans can carry 990-1,020kg.
There are two Ternary Polymer Lithium battery capacities, available in either wheelbase. The smaller 35kWh battery offers a WLTP City range of up to 141 miles in the shorter van, with a Combined range of 99 miles. Go for the larger 52.5kWh battery and the City range jumps to an impressive 213 miles, while the Combined figure is stretched to 151 miles in the SWB van.
All e Deliver 3 models have standard AC charging and rapid DC charging capability, through a charge point in the nose of the vehicle. The smaller 35kWh battery can be fully charged on an AC supply in 6 hours, while the larger 52.5kWh battery will take 8 hours to reach 100% charge. Opt for a DC fast charger and either battery can take on 80% of charge in just 45 minutes.
The vans use a 90kW low energy electric motor, with a peak torque of 255Nm. There are two driving modes, standard and Eco. Eco mode reduces the van’s acceleration and limits top speed to around 56mph. In the standard mode the motor can provide maximum torque from set-off and will run to a maximum speed of 75mph.
In addition, drivers can choose between three regeneration levels, cycling through the options using a button to the right of the steering wheel. The L setting will allow the van to roll when cruising, with very little regenerative effort. Move up to the M setting and there is stronger braking effect, while H offers almost single-pedal operation in town.
The e Deliver 3 is fairly well equipped, with a solid bulkhead, electric windows and mirrors, front and rear disc brakes, Bluetooth, a reversing camera and rear sensors and an 8” touchscreen for infotainment. The van also gets an unusual form of air conditioning, that allows the driver to direct air flow in the normal way and control the fan speed, with a push-button choice of heat or A/C, rather than an actual temperature adjuster.
Twin asymmetric rear doors and a large sliding side door are standard and the load area comes with six tie-down rings and a stainless steel cargo floor. As with the Deliver 9 that we tested a few months ago, the rear doors could do with some form of strap to prevent them opening beyond 90° unless called for.
We spent the day in Ipswich dealer Ransome Van Centre’s e Deliver 3 demonstrator. A short wheelbase model, the van was equipped with the larger 52.5kWh battery. The van has seating for two and there is plenty of movement in the driver’s seat, though the steering only adjusts for height. Despite the forward-looking technology, you still have to insert a key and turn it, to activate the motor.
There is a rotary selector for forward and reverse travel and a conventional handbrake, before the van smoothly sets off. As with all electric vehicles, you can call up maximum torque for speedy acceleration and some fleet managers might want to restrict the van to Eco mode, in town at least.
Once moving, the van is very quiet, with little of the electric motor whine found in some competitors. Wind and road noise are also commendably low, though you may find yourself flicking the volume switch up a bit on the multi-function steering wheel at motorway speeds.
That in itself is the first surprise with the e Deliver 3. In many EVs, opting to travel at higher speeds results in a depressingly rapid fall in available charge. But this simply doesn’t happen in the Maxus. This is perhaps the first full electric van that we have driven, where range anxiety just didn’t feature at all.
In theory, this large battery model should offer a combined range of up to 151 miles. However, despite having a full charge, the dash only promised around 135 miles when we set off. That apparently is because the system takes into account how it has been driven recently, so obviously the previous driver had a heavier foot, or was locked into a city route. Twenty miles into our drive, the dash still offered more than 130 miles of range, despite a section of rapid dual carriageway driving.
Eco mode does cut the performance a bit, but not as much as you might think and it is perfectly usable. The main effect is the lower top speed, though you can soon flick the switch if you need to go above 56mph. Likewise, while the lowest level of regeneration allows the van to roll on the overrun, having the regenerative braking in its strongest setting really provides plenty of braking on urban dual carriageways with lots of roundabouts.
The cab interior isn’t the last word in refinement, with plenty of hard plastics on show and a relatively dated infotainment system. But it does everything that you need it to do and comes with welcome features such as that reversing camera.
The real story though is the available range and the ease of driving. There will be plenty of van users that are considering an EV, but are worried about range and initial costs. At this price point, the Maxus e Deliver 3 opens up the possibility of an electric van future to a much wider range of customers, not just in last-mile delivery.
Van User would like to thank Ransome Van Centre for the loan of the e Deliver 3.
Maxus e Deliver 3 SWB 52.5kWh
Basic price £33,000 (before PiVG) Engine electric motor Power 90kW Torque 250Nm
Weights (kg) GVW 2,460 Kerb weight 1,555 Payload 905 Max trailer weight NA
Dimensions (mm) Load space length 2,180 Load space width 1,665 Load space height 1,330 Width between w/arches 1,220 Load volume4.8
Cost considerations Battery capacity 52.5kW Range City (WLTP) 213 miles Range Combined (WLTP) 151 miles Charging time (AC 100%) 8 hours Charging time (DC 80%) 45 mins Oil Change 1 year/18,645 miles Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles Battery warranty 8 years/100,000 miles