About this time next year, the Nissan e-NV200 will be in production out of Barcelona, Spain, and is forecasted to be met with great anticipation.

The number one electric vehicle request of commercial fleet customers is not to acquire a small sedan like the Chevrolet Volt, or a practical hatchback like the Nissan LEAF, but a utility van.  And while, there are a few manufacturers currently in this segment, their products do not specifically fill the need of these businesses.  The e-NV200 will.

Fleetdrive, who aids businesses in acquiring (and leasing) commercial vehicles, and who was an earlier funder of Tesla, says:

"80% of our enquiries at Fleetdrive Electric are for electric vans. The more definite travel patterns associated with many van operations along with business sense applied to the purchasing decision are resulting in a more vibrant market."

The main contenders in this segment were the Ford Transit Connect Electric and the Renault Kangoo ZE in Europe.

  • The Ford Transit Connect Electric was built/modified by a Canadian company Azure Dynamics, which unfortunately as of this past March stopped production unexpectedly because of filing for bankruptcy, Ford has yet to revive the Transit Connect Electric program
  • The Renault Kangoo ZE, which has been in limited production since November of 2011, is a nicely functional electric van that achieves a little over 100 miles (170 km) on the European cycle
The problem with both these vehicles, and why the e-NV200 is forecasted to be a commerical hit, is fast charging.  Inexplicably, neither the Ford or the Renault product has it. The ability to 'fill' up and go in 20 minutes is a massive advantage in the commercial world over having a vehicle sit idle 6-7 hours during the work day after it has expended its initial charge.

Fleetdrive goes on to explain, "Without this operation of (fast charging) these vehicles are still limited and feels a bit too fragile for many operators. There are many for whom this will work and should be embraced especially where saving on congestion charge is on offer.  The recently announce E NV200 form Nissan will be a game changer in our opinion as long as it retains the CHADEMO DC rapid charging... (into production)"

Nissan has since confirmed their van will have DC fast charging. And as winners of New York's "taxi of tomorrow" program, you can the fast charging e-NV200 in action on the street today.  An application that is easy to see way anything without a fast charging option would be a complete non-starter.

However, what makes the Nissan electric van great (rapid charging), is also causing the greatest headache in New York.  Namely, the charging standard.

Nissan is an ardent believer in the CHAdeMO protocol, which the SAE has recently undermined with a new Combined System, and a VHS vs. Betamax type war has broken out.  Clearly the new charging protocol is American based, with 3 of 8 major automakers backing it being from Detroit (GM, Ford and Chrysler).

Just six of these little electric vans have made NYC ground zero for the turf battle of charging standards, as mayor Bloomberg's administration is tasked with installing a fast-charging network compatible with either the CHAdeMO standard or the Combined system.

Whatever the ultimate outcome is in New York, the real winner here is commercial businesses, as the cost of owning and operating an inexpensive (est $40,000) quick charge, electric utility van over a petrol one is an easy financial decision.  The Nissan e-Nv200 has certainly found its niche.


Got a tip for us? Email: tips@insideevs.com