Small electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and the Renault ZOE have been on British roads for a little while now, but the first large electric van is now available - and it can also be bought as a five-seater passenger car.
The electric motor in the Nissan e-NV200 is taken from the Nissan Leaf and should cut running costs significantly compared to an equivalent diesel - Nissan claims it could cost as little as two pence per mile to run, thanks both to the fuel saving and the reduced servicing costs. Battery rental costs between £61 and £109 per month, depending on your annual mileage.
The high-spec Evalia model driven here is not available in the UK, but the Combi is vitrually the same - it just misses out on a few trim options like the seat trays for rear-seat passengers and the light-coloured upholstery. The interior is still rather van-like in the Combi, but the steering wheel and dash from the Leaf definitely mean it's nicer insid than the diesel Combi.
City driving is where the e-NV200 excels, with the instant response of the electric motor and the single-gear ratio meaning it couldn't be simpler to drive in a city-centre traffic jam.
On faster roads the e-NV200 can feel out of its depth though, with an unpleasant bouncy ride when there is no load in the back - and in the passenger Combi model it's likely to upset the rear-seat passengers unless you've got a lot of luggage on board.
There's quite a bit of body roll in the corners, but it's more fun to drive than the diesel NV200 thanks to the torquey electric motor and light steering that works well in the city.
The 106-mile range (that drops to 70 miles with a full load and icy weather) is also an indication of how Nissan expects its customers to use the e-NV200: it's likely to spend its time making short trips around town, being put on charge at the end of every day. It takes around 8 hours to charge on a normal charger, but go for the optional rapid charger and it will fill the batteries to 80 per cent in 30 minutes.
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