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28/10/2021

Motoring Review: The international van of the year is an electric drive

Opel Vivaro-e panel van: An environmentally-friendly business choice

The international van of the year is an electric drive

File photo

The new Opel Vivaro-e panel van is the premium choice for businesses with the highest professional standards that require their vehicles to fit seamlessly into an optimised work process.

With uncompromising character and emission-free driving, the Vivaro-e is ideal for the urban environment and is available in three vehicle lengths, with two battery sizes for a range of up to 330kms.

Having been awarded the prestigious title of ‘International Van of the Year 2021’, the new Vivaro-e is a capable, practical, well equipped and stylish panel van in every respect, with the functionality and flexibility of its diesel engine siblings.

Two Battery Sizes

The new Opel Vivaro-e is available with a 50kWh battery for a range of up to 230kms, or a 75kWh battery for up to 330kms. Opel’s ground-breaking powertrain technology and architecture means that the low, flat battery gives the Vivaro-e a stable centre of gravity and maximum cabin space. Designed from the ground up with both diesel and electric powertrains in mind, the Vivaro-e is based heavily on the Opel Corsa-e and its driveline fits comfortably between the chassis rails of the new Vivaro-e.

Power comes from a 100kW(136bhp) motor producing 260Nm of torque for smooth, swift and linear acceleration. The 50kWh battery is made up of 18 modules consisting of 216 individual cells, while the larger 75kWh battery has 324 cells split over 27 modules.

Cooling for the batteries comes from the van’s own in-cab cooling system, which Opel says helps to increase their range and lifetime. All Vivaro-e models come with three driving modes and switchable regenerative braking as standard.

The standard on-board charger is a 7.4kW single phase unit, while DC charging of up to 100kW is also supported.

Trim and Body Options

Trim levels in the new Vivaro-e panel van consist of Edition and Sportive models, both of which come with standard features such as driver and passenger airbags, electric parking brake, cruise control, full size spare wheel, 3.5” colour dashboard display, remote central deadlocking, two side loading doors, electric front windows, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, 4-speaker audio with a USB inlet, Bluetooth, steering-column remote audio controls, and a DAB radio.

Top-spec Sportive trim brings with it air-conditioning, 7” colour touchscreen with smartphone projection, body coloured bumpers (except on red), LED daytime running lights, front fog lights, rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, electrically folding door mirrors, acoustic windscreen and full-size wheel covers.

Available with two body lengths and two roof heights, the Vivaro-e is just as flexible as a diesel van with a load volume of up to 6.6m3. Because the batteries are between the chassis rails, the total capacity of the load space is completely unchanged, allowing 4,959mm lengths in the L1 model and up to 5,309mm in the L2 when using the load-through bulkhead.

Otherwise, the standard maximum length capacity of the van is 1,512mm for the L1 and 2,862mm for the L2.

Payloads are equally impressive, as replacing the engine and transmission with batteries and a motor doesn’t significantly harm it’s capacities.

All Vivaro-e vans have a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 3.1-tonne, and depending on spec you can get a maximum 1,226kg payload out of a L1 standard roof height (H1) panel van with the 50kWh battery.

Specifying the larger 75kWh unit brings that figure down to 1,000kg.

Those figures are just 130kg less than a diesel-engine Vivaro — a far cry from the disadvantage that battery electric vehicles used to have when compared to diesel-powered vans in the past.

Test Van

My test van was a new Vivaro-e Sportive (L2 H1) 50kWh finished in stylish Moonstone Grey metallic paint. The three-seater Vivaro-e has storage under the passenger bench, while the driver’s seat comes with an adjustable armrest and 6-way seat adjustment. Being an electric van where the full amount of torque is available from just 300rpm all the way up to 3,672rpm, it is exceptionally quick off the mark.

Unladen, the Vivaro-e accelerates with impressive urgency, and I have no doubt it would still prove fast even with a full payload on board.

The top speed is limited to 130km/h in order to preserve the battery range, but this is something that should not be of any concern to Vivaro-e drivers, as the van is more than capable of overtaking slower moving traffic with great ease.

The regenerative braking system in the Vivaro-e is selected by pressing the ‘B mode’ button beside the gear selector, and this applies enough braking to activate the brake lights and slow the vehicle down before the driver presses the brake pedal.

I loved the fact that the Vivaro-e is very car-like to drive, and the selectable Eco, Normal and Power driving modes ensure that there is a mode to suit every type of driver and every type of load. The Vivaro-e remains composed and comfortable when driven over rutted road surfaces, while body lean through bends is very well controlled.

The Vivaro-e pulls away in silence, with just a hum from the on-board sound generator that is designed to warn others of your presence at low speeds, with just minimal levels of tyre and wind noise noticeable at higher speeds.

Charging Times

Charging the Vivaro-e (50kWh battery) from a domestic socket can take up to 28 hours, but this drops dramatically to 7.5 hours when charged from a 7.4KW wall box charger (0-100% charge).

However, DC rapid charging from a 100kW source (0-80% capacity) takes just half an hour for the 50kWh battery and 48 minutes for the 75kWh version.

Verdict & Pricing

Overall, the new Opel Vivaro-e is a genuinely impressive van to drive, easy to live with on a daily basis, offers fast-charging options and it is a good looking van too.

In my opinion, this is the class-leading panel van in the all-electric light commercial vehicle (LCV) market right now, and deservedly so too.

Pricing for the new Vivaro-e panel van starts at just €36,895 (inc VAT) or €29,833 (ex-VAT).

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