Toyota Proace Electric

Proace Electric offers a good alternative to diesel power, says John Kendall.

SECTOR Medium van PRICE £34,630 - £39,463 RANGE 142 miles (50kWh battery) / 205 miles (75kWh battery) LOAD VOLUME 5.3m3 DRIVE 136hp (100kW) Battery electric

CHARGING 32A AC 7.4kW wallbox: 7hrs 30 mins (50kWh) / 11hrs 20mins (75kWh). DC 100kW rapid charge (0-80%) 30 mins (50kWh) / 45 mins (75kWh).

Not all joint ventures turn out to be successful, but one that stands out in recent years is that between the former PSA Group and Toyota, struck 20 years ago to produce the Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 107 and Citroën C1 city cars, which appeared a few years later. This also brought about collaboration between the companies for the supply of vans, then the follow-on city car models. In the meantime, PSA has absorbed Opel/Vauxhall and morphed into Stellantis after the merger with the FCA Group. The joint venture with Toyota has survived, even though the Aygo/108/C1 will not be replaced.

Toyota joined the brands that have adopted the Peugeot Expert/Citroën Dispatch platform, bringing us the Toyota Proace with in the past two years. Not surprisingly, the Proace Electric followed earlier this year and the Proace City Electric will join the Toyota LCV range later this year. It’s the Toyota Proace Electric that we are focussed on here though.

Not surprisingly, much under the skin is shared with the electric versions of the Peugeot, Citroën and Vauxhall Vivaro. Toyota has decided to keep it simple though, so there is one trim grade – Icon – and one van length for the model. The best-selling diesel-powered Proace is the medium length model, so Proace Electric will only be available in that length. Like its French cousins, it is offered with two battery sizes; 50kWh and 75kWh - the version that we have driven. That gives it a driving range of up to 142 miles from the 50kWh battery and up to 205 miles from the 75kWh battery.

Not surprisingly the interior is based on that in the Peugeot and Citroën models, which is no bad thing because it means that the controls are logical and it is easy to follow. There’s a gear selector to switch into the appropriate drive direction and another switch alongside it to select between normal, eco and power. Another switch marked "B" offers additional regenerative braking, helping to reduce brake wear and boost range.

As a result, you can choose performance to suit your circumstances – normal gives full power output, Power places the accent on performance and economy limits power and extends range. It’s easy to switch between modes as you drive. As you might expect, noise levels are low compared with a diesel-powered van. Without the need for gears, it’s like driving an automatic and the combination of low noise and no gear shifting makes for relaxed progress. The lack of gear lever does make cross cab access a little better, but it’s still a bit tight.

The load area benefits from the batteries being fitted under the floor, meaning it is no smaller than diesel powered models.

The version we drove had the through loading bulkhead below the passenger seat so longer items such as pipes can be accommodated. Models with the 75kWh battery pack will carry a 1,000kg payload, increased slightly for 50kWh battery models to 1,226kg. All models will tow a 1,000kg braked trailer.

At the moment, Proace Electric and its Stellantis equivalents are among the best vans available, offering better range than most other electric vans on the market. Rivals will improve as older models are replaced but for now, Proace Electric is a sound choice for anyone looking for an electric van.

THE LOWDOWN

KEY FLEET MODEL

PROACE ELECTRIC ICON 75KWH AUTO.

STRENGTHS

DRIVING RANGE, EQUIPMENT, COMFORT.

WEAKNESSES

REDUCED PAYLOAD COMPARED WITH DIESEL MODEL.

THE VERDICT

Proace Electric is among the best electric vans in its class, offering good range and a quiet and comfortable driving experience. The range ensures that it is a viable, but more expensive alternative to a diesel-powered model.