There can’t be many things that have benefitted from the enforced lockdowns that we have experienced over the last year. Yet, living locally has been the perfect backdrop for our extended test of Citroën’s e-Dispatch electric van.
Our van was based around the middle length Dispatch, offering a 5.3m3 load volume, which extends to 5.8m3 thanks to the Moduwork load-through bulkhead and folding passenger seat. This was put to the test, as I needed to carry 3m fence posts following one particularly windy weekend.
Unlike many of its competitors, the electric van retains a healthy 1-tonne of payload, while having the batteries mounted beneath the load floor means that there is no loss of load space. You can even tow a 1-tonne trailer with the e-Dispatch, if you so desire. Again, the van’s load-carrying capabilities were certainly tested, helping with two major house moves.
Despite the enforced low mileage at the start of this test, we went with the larger 75kWh power pack. That offers up to claimed 211 miles of driving range, though we never saw more than a possible 193 miles on the gauge, after rapid or slow charging. In truth, unless all of your driving is in town, a more realistic range is somewhere in the high 170s in mixed use.
Since things have opened up, I have ventured further. Delivering a van full of furniture from Suffolk to Kenilworth, Warwickshire, required a little planning. Starting with 185 miles showing, we set off from Suffolk early on a Saturday morning, aiming for breakfast at the new Moto Services near Rugby on the M6 (below left).
While the food is nothing to write home about, the new site does have 12 brand new Gridserve Electric Highway 350kW rapid chargers on site, alongside a further 12 Tesla points. The chargers all take credit cards, so no need to be a member of any charging brand or club.
With breakfast eaten, 40 minutes had added more than enough range for us to carry on to Kenilworth for the day. On the return journey we pulled into the services once more, for a coffee and another 20-minute top-up, which easily saw us cruising back to Bury St Edmunds.
Which certainly proves that, when the public charging network is working well, tackling longer journeys in today’s EV vans is not out of the question. However, where the e-Dispatch really excels, is in local urban and semi-rural travel.
The Citroën is at the cutting edge of the EV van market at present and it is a delight to drive. It boasts all of the positives of the diesel van, but with a single-speed transmission, zero tailpipe emissions and a near silent cab environment. The only downside is, of course, potential range. If you can live with that and you are in the market for a mid-weight electric van, the e-Dispatch has to be at the top of the list.
Things we learnt
- Available range can increase as well as decrease when driving in brake regeneration mode.
- Unless you are fully laden, the van performs perfectly well in Eco mode, offering just 60kW of power. The only downside is reduced air conditioning performance.
- When the battery is more than 80% full, the ‘B’ brake regeneration button doesn’t really do anything, as there is nowhere for the electricity to go.
- The MyCitroën smartphone app offers some useful features, but isn’t the smoothest experience.
- The public charging network is improving rapidly, but still has a long way to go.
For another Road Test, check out our review of the Isuzu D-Max.