Sneak Peak: Nissan’s E-NV200 All-Electric Minivan Spotted In The Wild

By · August 20, 2013

Nissan eNV200

For the past two years, Nissan has been quietly testing the eNV200—an all-electric version of its NV200 minivan—deployed in limited numbers in corporate fleets in Europe, New York, and Asia. Based on Nissan’s NV200 minivan, which has been sold all around the world in a variety of markets for a number of years, the eNV200 is not powered by a gasoline engine—but by the same motor, controller and battery pack found in a production Nissan LEAF.

I was lucky enough to come face-to-face yesterday with one of the electric minivans, when I called into my local Nissan dealership to get my LEAF booked for minor remedial paint repair before winter. Just months away from the eNV200’s official launch in Europe, this late 2011 prototype—which has been on loan for the past two years to various corporate fleets in the UK including FedEX and British Gas—gives a tantalizing glimpse into what the finished production version will be like.

Nissan has said that the NV200 was designed from the beginning to be powered by a variety of fuels, including diesel, petrol, and electricity. That's probably one reason why the prototype appears so finished in its appearance, despite being one of only a handful of pre-production eNV200 vehicles worldwide.

As with the LEAF electric hatchback, the eNV200’s battery pack is located in the middle of the vehicle, under the load bay floor. There’s minimal intrusion into the cargo area, although it’s worth noting the load bay floor is slightly higher—about two inches higher—than the gasoline and diesel-powered NV200 variants, resulting in marginally less cargo volume.

Nissan eNV200

There is a black, humped area behind the cab bulkhead, which presumably houses the NV200’s on-board 3.3 kilowatt-charger. Since this prototype was built using first-generation LEAF technology—and Nissan has since integrated the on-board charger into the power-electronics housed under the hood—it’s logical to assume this hump will be absent in a production version of the eNV200. For faster charging, a CHAdeMO port in front provides the same direct-to battery 50-kW charging as the LEAF from a compatible Quick Charge station.

Like most prototypes, test-drives were off the menu, but I was given a quick glance inside the cabin, which was a cross between the interior of a gasoline NV200 and a first generation Nissan LEAF. Like the hatchback which shares much of its technology, the eNV200 has the same telematics center console, the same wheel-mounted controls, and hockey-puck gear lever.

Nissan eNV200

I was told by dealership staff that it drives and feels very much like the first-generation LEAF, and not much at all like a typical minivan—despite the obvious size differences and the use of smaller, narrower heavy-duty tires than the all-electric hatchback.

While the European-version of the eNV200 will likely arrive some time next year for fleet owners, there’s no news yet on a North American version—or if it will even arrive to the U.S at all.. However, with production of Nissan’s Taxi of Tomorrow—a four-passenger taxicab variant of the NV200 which will become New York’s taxi of choice in 2015—now underway in Mexico, an all-electric eNV200 for the U.S. might be closer than we think.

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