Electric LCVs are coming under st(r)eam
Lately, the announcements of electric versions of current or future light commercial vehicles (LCVs) are becoming warp and weft. The latest comes from Ford and Toyota, but there’s frantic activity everywhere.
The past few months, we’ve had releases from (Chinese) Maxus, Mercedes (e-Sprinter and e-Vito/QEV), Fiat (e-Ducato), Renault (Trafic, Kangoo), and PSA (the three brands producing vans and LCVs).
A Japanese version of the latter also exists because Toyota has a joint venture with PSA on vans. Meanwhile, Ford is announcing a new LCV to be built in its Romanian plant (Craiova), and there will also be an EV version.
Toyota Proace Electric
Toyota has started the market launch of Proace Electric and Proace Verso Electric in Europe. The smaller Proace City Electric is to follow in October this year.
Proace Electric was initially introduced to European markets Norway, Netherlands, and Switzerland in the fourth quarter of 2020. It will be launched in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom in the first quarter of 2021.
As already mentioned, Proace is not based on a Toyota platform but the EMP2 from PSA/Stellantis. The minibus is thus another offshoot to the three well-known models of the PSA brands Citroën (Jumpy), Peugeot (Expert), and Opel (Vivaro). The Proace Electric is the commercial vehicle version, while the Proace Verso Electric is the passenger car model.
Technically, the Proace is the same as the PSA trio: the engine produces 100 kW, and Toyota also offers two battery options (50 or 75 kWh). Depending on the battery, this gives between 230 and 330 kilometers WLTP range.
Toyota also offers the three-phase 11 kW on-board charger as an option; a single-phase 7,4 kW charger is fitted ex-works. The 50 kWh battery can be charged to 80% in about 30 minutes at a 100 kW DC charging station; the 75 kWh battery takes 45 minutes. The top speed is 130 kph.
The Proace Electric will be offered in the familiar three lengths (4,6 m, 4,96 m, and 5,3 m) and in panel van, crew van, and platform cab body styles. For the passenger car version Proace Verso Electric, there are three lengths, but the further distinction relates to the various seat configurations.
The future Proace City Electric is not another offshoot of the minibus but shares its specificities with the smaller PSA carriers like e-Berlingo, Combo-e, and e-Tepee. The 100 kW engine is also used here, but only in combination with the 50 kWh battery.
Ford LCVs in Craiova
Ford has announced it will invest $300 million in producing a new light commercial vehicle at its Romanian assembly plant in Craiova, with production scheduled to start in 2023. An all-electric version of this commercial vehicle model will debut a year later.
Further product details will be announced later. The model may be the successor of the Transit Connect panel van or the even smaller Transit Courier (and their passenger versions Tourneo).
The two larger light commercial vehicles, the Transit and the Transit Custom, will stay in Kocaeli (Turkey), including the electric versions.
“The Ford plant in Craiova has the state-of-the-art capacity and enables competitive world-class production,” says Stuart Rowley, President Ford Europe. “The investment in our Ford plant in Craiova now sends another signal and underlines our intention to provide European customers with suitable vehicles for an electrified future.”
Like many of its competitors, Ford thinks that the electrification process will be faster in the light commercial vehicle market than in the private car market.
The company aims to make all commercial vehicle ranges available as fully electric versions or plug-in hybrid powertrains by 2024. By 2030, electrified variants are expected to account for two-thirds of Ford’s commercial vehicle sales.