- WLTP range over 210 miles
- Great cabin features on Driver Edition
- Very easy to drive - with 180-degree reversing camera
- Long wheel base option would be good
- Option for 100kWh battery would help
- Wall mount options in the cargo area would be nice
Range (WLTP): 211 miles Top Speed: 81 mph 0 to 60: 14.3 sec Cost/Mile (@14p/kWh): 5p
As the G7 leaders gathered for their summit in Cornwall in June 2021, a new commitment came through. One that supports a ‘green revolution' to cut emissions, create jobs and limit the risk of a permanent rise in global temperatures to less than 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial figures. Consumer vehicles are just part of the war against our carbon emissions. Victory will need a huge reduction in the number of commercial vehicles running on diesel. Major haulage companies seem to be looking for an answer in hydrogen, but what about traders, stores and contractors? To win their business, manufacturers will need to offer spacious/well equipped vehicles with significant range, fast charging and a sensible price tag. Has Citroen managed to deliver on this 1-2-3 list of key requirements with its e-Dispatch panel van? WhichEV got hold of the ‘Driver' version for an extended test in order to find out if this is the best van EV yet.
Price and Options
If you opt for the E-Dispatch, then you can choose from three van sizes, XS, M and XL. You also have two options on battery size, 50kWh or 75kWh. The Dispatch in general has five different body style and trim levels – Panel Van X, Panel Van Enterprise, Panel Van Driver, Crew Van Enterprise and Crew Van Driver. However, neither of the two Crew Vans can be purchased with in EV form, only diesel. Together with some additional options, you end up with a pricing matrix that starts around £33,265 + VAT (£40,763 OTR) with the top of the range ‘Driver' version (seen here) at £42,380 + VAT (£51,701 OTR).
The entry-level Panel Van X has been designed to win ‘fleet deals', i.e. big orders from supermarkets and other large businesses. The spec is pretty basic (specifically no air conditioning or ModuWork load-through flap) and there's little in the way of upgrades or add-ons, so if you want to order multiple electric vans, then you should be looking at the Panel Van X.
Even with the Panel Van X, you still get electric windows, cruise control with variable speed limiter, electric heated mirrors, coffee break alert and DAB radio along with the 7in touch screen supporting CarPlay and Android Auto.
Moving up a level to the Panel Van Enterprise, you get air con, rear parking sensors, the acoustic windscreen, automatic lights and windscreen wipers and ModuWork flap.
Finally, there is the ‘Driver' model, which comes with a host of features (below) to keep you comfortable and safe.
If you're a tradesman/contractor, then your van can often become your second home. In which case, you'll want the luxury features offered by the ‘Driver'. Driver versions come with a 180 degree parking assistance camera, the full safety pack, which includes lane departure warning to keep you in the middle of your lane, speed limit recognition so you don't speed, intelligent speed adaptation to help maintain distance from the car in front, driver alert system to nudge you when you get tired and smart headlights that drop off full beam when necessary etc. It also includes a handy collision alert system, metallic paint and alloy wheels.
For a detailed side-by-side analysis, you can download the full set of options and trim levels here.
From the outside, the EV version of Citroen's popular Dispatch van looks no different. It's a good size, accessible with sliding doors either side and rear doors that open and lock just past 180 degrees – making it easier to get larger loads on board. The most noticeable part of the styling of our review van is the inclusion of diamond-cut alloy wheels, which seems like an unnecessary indulgence, but they look pretty good and only add £100 to the price of a Driver.
No matter which version of the van you choose, it is 1.9 metres wide and 1.9 metres high. That will get you into any supermarket/apartment block car park. It comes with a full size spare wheel – just in case. the LED daytime running lights will ensure that you are easy to spot and the bulkhead itself is made from steel. As well as the alarm, there is a deadlock for the van with a separate lock for the cabin.
Naturally, there are no emissions, so accessing the ULEZ and central London present no challenge at the time of writing.
Having driven a few vans over the years, interior comfort is where the e-Dispatch wins big. The outside seats are very comfortable and the middle one isn't bad. We found the lumbar adjustment just right and there's enough storage in the doors for a large bottle of Coke to keep you awake on long hauls, or water if you're Cristiano Ronaldo. Each side of the long dashboard is another drinks holder.
The electric windows operate with a single touch and the windscreen has been laminated to reduce noise. Our model had a leather covered, multi-function steering wheel and the wing mirrors are electric, heated and can fold flat to reduce the chance of damage on-site. We went through the van's features with a local builder, who explained that the fold-flat wing mirrors will also help prevent the glass being stolen.
We will cover the other safety features in a bit, but it's worth mentioning that the van will warn you to take a coffee break every couple of hours – reducing the chance of fatigue-induced accidents.
There's additional storage under one of the front seats, a regular glove compartment, several cubby holes and another document holder in the centre of the dashboard.
Useful for those working on-site is the fact that the heavy-duty rubber floor mats can be easily removed for washing.
The centre seat can be pulled down to reveal a ‘table' – ideal if you need to balance your laptop or catch up on paperwork and you're in the middle of nowhere and/or a rain storm. Aside from a comfortable bed behind the seats, this van doesn't seem to be missing anything that a workman would need.
Storage and Load Carrying
At a shade under 5 metres long, the Driver model represents the medium size in Citroen's range of e-Dispatch vans. As such it offers a load volume of 5.8 cubic metres. You will have a little less space in the XS and a little more with the XL variant. That load can be anything up to 1,000Kg so you should be good for most situations.
In terms of what can be fitted into the rear, with the doors fully open, you have 1.628 metres by 1.397 metres of width and height respectively. The length for most loads will be 3.674 metres, although it has been designed with Citroen's ModuWork system – which allows much longer products like wooden planks to be carried by using the space under one of the passenger's seats. This adds a little over 1.2 metres to the length capacity.
Internally, the van comes pre-protected and there are plenty of tie-down points where you can secure a load.
Tradesmen who want to dedicate one of the internal wooden panels to allow for mounting tools and materials, will find this very easy to do so. There's space under one of the front seats that you could use for your cables.
Clearance is good, without being too high for loading/unloading.
The Citroen e-Dispatch is a well-designed vehicle so we only have two things we’d like to change.
First is that any serious workman will likely want to use one of the internal walls for tools – it would have been nice to see intelligent cut outs and mounting points already included.
Second the rear doors open out really wide, which is really useful for loading large objects. However, if you’re doing that at night, there is a chance that your door will mask the lights. We’d like to see reflective strips along the inside edges of the rear doors.
The controls and layout feel very natural. If you're not familiar with the Stellantis-way of doing things, it will take you a little time to get used to the ‘digital' gear change, but once you do – it's a very easy vehicle to drive. All of the controls are ‘to hand' and visibility is great.
The gear options offered include Eco, Normal and Sport mode with a ‘B' button to give you maximum regeneration for the battery when braking. The largest dial on the dashboard shows you if you are charging the battery, using energy economically or simply hitting the power. When driving longer distances, it becomes quite an interesting game to see just how economically you can drive – especially when coasting downhill. Alongside the power meter, there is a speedo, battery meter and some indication of how far you have travelled and how far you can still go. The stalks are all self-explanatory.
The 7in touchscreen is clear in all conditions and it comes with a DAB radio. The system supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – which is not always the case with modern EVs. Ours also had Citroen Connect Navigation with voice recognition.
Essentially, driving the Citroen E-Dispatch is a lot like driving a modern car, with all of the mod cons that we've come to expect – including adaptive cruise control on this model.
Performance and Driving
One of the most comfortable trade vehicles on the market, the E-Dispatch will be appealing to any tradesmen whose work takes them near the bigger cities in the coming years. With a top speed of 81 mph and a 0-62 of just over 14 seconds, it's a pretty nippy front wheel drive vehicle with little in the way of torque steer.
There's a true sense of safety and liberty as you bound down the road, armed to the teeth with modern safety gear. Acceleration could be faster and the top speed could be higher, but why? When your livelihood depends on your license, you don't want to risk the points.
The addition of a HUD display is a nice touch and it means you can monitor your speed as well as the conditions, without taking your eyes off the road.
Range and Charging
The WLTP range quoted is 211 miles for models with a 75kWh battery and that has to be the better option, unless you're planning to only do short journeys in town. The 50kWh versions have a WLTP just under 145 miles – which is pretty good compared to earlier electric vans, but we'd still opt for a bigger battery. Ranges are calculated with a 500Kg load.
The Citroen E-Dispatch comes with a 7kW onboard charger as standard, but you can upgrade to an 11kW version for only £300 – useful if your work place has a 3-phase power supply. Getting a full charge with the larger batter on a 7kW supply will take over 11 hours. The 11kW option brings that down to just 7 hours.
The van has a 100kW DC rapid charge capability, which will get you up to 80% in around 45 minutes. To put that in real world terms, after driving long distance for a couple of hours, you can stop for food in a service station and have close to 160 miles WLTP by the time you get back in.
Annoyingly, as with most electric vehicles, the LED near the charging ports points toward the driver, helping to blind you at night, rather than toward the dark plastic covers. It would be so much easier to charge up if the LED was on the flap.
The smallest version of the e-Dispatch appears online at a fraction over £40,000 and the top of the range Driver model that we have here, is just over £51,000. For a business user, that means you are looking at monthly leasing prices between £320 and £400 a month ex VAT. Fleet buyers will be looking at the lowest cost to enable their company drivers, so we would expect the volume business to centre on the smaller, entry-level model for use around town
On the other hand, tradesmen who will be virtually living in the vehicle, will look at the extra £100 and think, “You know what, I deserve those extra creature comforts”. You get a 3 year/100,000 mile warranty on the van itself and the battery is guaranteed for 8 years. Servicing costs will be lower than a diesel van, with a 2-year/25,000 mile service interval. At present, you will benefit from zero congestion charges in the major cities and the BiK banding is 1% at the time of testing.
Filling the 75kWh battery at 14p per unit will cost around £10.50 – which is around 5p per mile. The insurance group is 36E, which is reasonable.
There is a Driver Assist Pack which gives you collision alerts and active safety braking. The Safety Pack gives you lane departure warnings, speed limit sign recognition, intelligent speed adaptation, a driver attention alert and smart beam headlights. The Security pack adds advanced emergency braking and forward collision warnings.
Lastly, we have to mention the rear parking camera, which makes manoeuvring in tight spots much easier. This might be standard on modern cars, but most tradesmen coming to a product like the Citroen E-Dispatch will be experiencing this for the first time.
|Price:||Basic Panel Van X version (M wheelbase) at £33,265 + VAT with the top of the range Driver shown here at £42,380 + VAT|
|Range (WLTP):||143 miles with 50kWh battery (500Kg load)
211 miles with 75kWh battery (500Kg load)
|Charge time (7.4kW):||50kWh – 7 hours 15 mins
75kWh – 11 hour 20 mins
|Charge time (100kW, 80%):||45 mins with 75kWh battery|
|Battery:||Standard Range – 50kWh; Extended Range – 75kWh|
|On Board Charger:||7kW AC (11kW optional) and 100kW DC|
|Cost per mile*:||5p|
|Power:||136 bhp (100kW)|
|Wheels driven:||Front Wheel Drive|
|Cargo:||5.8 cubic metres|
*based on electricity costs of 14p per kWh