Nissan Electric Van Fun

A van I hear you say? Yes, a van! I know it’s all a bit weird and I haven’t been in a van for years let alone driven one, so it’s going to be a little different. I should just point out here what might be obvious, but just in case it isn’t – it is an Electric Van, which thinking about it is probably obvious, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about it!!

Delivered clean and White

Delivered clean and White

My sidekick is going to do that whole technical thingy and write up of the Nissan e-NV200 Electric Van while I do the rest.

So why and how did we end up testing out the Nissan e-NV200 Electric Van?

Well, it all started because we were going to be in the UK and spending three weeks there visiting family and helping my mum with her house move. We had been looking at the possibility of borrowing a camper van conversion but unfortunately that didn’t work out. Although, that would have been useful to stay in while the house move was going on. However, Nissan offered to lend us their e-NV200 Electric Van for a week and let us use it to help with the house move.

Now, bear in mind that for two weeks of being in the UK we had, as always, been driving my mum’s Fiat Panda. And as always, thank you mum for letting us borrow your car. But when you are used to driving pure electric with all its quiet smoothness, getting into a Fiat Panda that’s rather herky, jerky is not much fun. You get to the point where you would happily accept the wub, wub noise of the tyres on the BMW i3 and consider that to be quiet! Oh dear! So, even the idea of an Electric Van was rather appealing, even though it was a van. What would it be like I wondered.

When I first saw the van my first words were ‘It’s white!!!’ I mean, seriously a white van – how stereotypical (all vans seem to be white in the UK) and seriously, it’s white, of all the colours in all the world – it had to be white! Anyway after the initial shock of the colour it was off out to see what it was like.

Instruments and centre stack showing Carwings navigation unit

Instruments and centre stack showing Carwings navigation unit

The van is just a basic van, two seats in the front and that’s it with plenty of boot space behind. I must say though it had two nice seats in the front, very comfy and nicely finished off. There was climate control and heated seats – two of! Cup holders and little spaces for this and that, rather nice for a van really. Oh, and Satellite Navigation.

Sheep and Lambs unfazed my the sight of a silent van

Sheep and Lambs unfazed by the passing of a silent van

Well, there is no getting around the fact that it is a van, but after the noisy Panda it was so quiet and smooth, no jerky gear changes. You are quite high up, which can have its advantages on those narrow back roads, as you can see above the hedges to see if any other vehicles are coming towards you. It is bouncy but again it is a van and I am also not sure how bouncy it actually was as the country roads around us are a bit bouncy anyway in any car. The roads are rather narrow too (one car width) at times, which we got to experience when we stopped for me to take a picture of the very cute lambs and a minute later there was another vehicle trying to drive along the road too! Hmm, how deep is that ditch there?

It does have a fair amount of regen but not what we are used to in the BMW i3, it seems to give you more regen as the batteries warm up, which makes sense. It can climb the hills that the poor petrol car struggles significantly with, it’s just unfortunate if you get stuck behind a petrol car that is struggling!

Lots of boot space with easy access through the side doors

Lots of boot space with easy access through the side doors

It appears to have a decent amount of boot space as you can fit the base of a double bed in the back which I guess means I would easily get a weekly supermarket shop in the back too.

And, it would seem that you can also fit a double mattress in the back, just comfortably enough that you could sleep in the back of the van – you know if you had to because, say your mum had just moved house and downsized so that with all her boxes in the spare room there wasn’t quite enough space for you to put your double mattress on the floor. Just saying that you could do that if you needed to. Especially if they were stinking the place out while they painted the new abode… I’m just saying that’s all!!!

Charging station EV'd

Charging station EV’d

What to do on a wet and windy Sunday afternoon – I know lets go and find the nearest CHAdeMO charger to us! Well why not? There isn’t much else going on and the weather is pretty lousy. It turned out that the nearest one to us was about a 30 minute drive away. So off we went. The van was actually quite cosy despite the awful weather outside. The front and rear of the van is divided by a metal panel making it feel smaller than it actually is. When we got to the charging station we found that both spaces were in use, one was a Nissan LEAF and the other a Mitsubishi plug in something that has CHAdeMO charging capabilities. We sat and waited for one to be finished which was only about 10 minutes, and then pulled into the space and plugged in for about 20 minutes. We were not that low on charge so didn’t need to stay for that long to bring us up to a nice level. Once finished and unplugged it was back out into the dreary weather.

Charging at an EcoTricity station

Charging at an EcoTricity station

My niece’s five year old son was very intrigued with the van and that it was electric. He wanted to know why we were plugging it in to charge it up and why did it have batteries? When I took him to school in it the other day he asked about the noise he could hear, so I explained that it was the motor and that led into a discussion on batteries and motors. Quite an interesting conversation with a five year old, he seemed to grasp the concept better than some adults we have tried to explain this to! He told me that one day everyone would make electric vans and that there would only be electric vans – he’s a smart child.

As far as vans go I would have to say that it was okay, but I wouldn’t want to drive around in one all the time though, no need for all that space on a day to day basis. But the fact that it was electric made a huge amount of difference. This model also has a version that comes with two rows of seats in the back and windows too so you can ferry people about instead of furniture.

For all the technical bits, read our full review of the 2014 Nissan e-NV200