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Nissan e-NV200: Real World Review

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Used 2014 Nissan NV200
Used 2014 Nissan NV200
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author photo by Doug DeMuro September 2014

Electric vehicle (EV) technology is progressing, so we're not surprised to see it reach commercial vehicles. Businesses would no doubt appreciate saving some money on fuel, but how does the technology translate to Nissan's compact NV200 cargo van? We spent some time behind the wheel of the fully electric Nissan e-NV200 to find out.

Nissan What?

For most shoppers, the NV200 name probably isn't a familiar one. If you've never heard of it, let us explain: The NV200 is Nissan's small city-friendly cargo van that's designed to compete with the slightly better-known Ford Transit Connect and other upcoming small-sized cargo-van rivals. Gas-powered Nissan NV200 models start around $21,500, and they come standard with a 131-horsepower 4-cylinder engine and a continuously variable automatic transmission.

As for the e-NV200, think of it as an NV200 van with the electric drivetrain from the popular Nissan LEAF electric hatchback. Despite its van size, the e-NV200 only weighs a few hundred pounds more than the LEAF, mostly because it lacks any sort of seats or interior materials in back. It also boasts about the same 70- to 80-mile range as Nissan's popular hatchback and uses the same 6.6-kilowatt quick charger that upscale LEAF models are equipped with, which means that recharging takes place in 4-5 hours.

Intentionally Unremarkable

Climb behind the wheel, and you'll find that driving the Nissan e-NV200 feels exactly like piloting any other small van, meaning that driving dynamics are mediocre, acceleration is lackluster, and nothing especially remarkable stands out in terms of our driving experience in the van. In other words, the e-NV200 feels like a normal cargo van, which is likely Nissan's intent.

In fact, if it weren't for the lack of noise coming from the front of the van, we would probably have some trouble realizing that we were driving an electric vehicle. In that sense, the e-NV200 is a success, as it requires few compromises -- aside from traditional EV trade-offs such as range and recharge time -- to operate like a normal, traditional cargo van.

Range Anxiety?

On a full charge, the range indicator in our e-NV200 showed that the van had about 80 miles to go before running out of juice, which isn't bad for a work vehicle and isn't too different from the LEAF's Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 84-mile range. That range number was with the van completely empty, however, and given that many businesses will likely weigh it down with goods or supplies, we suspect that the van might actually offer a substantially reduced range in real-world driving conditions.

The e-NV200 also has another range issue: While some businesses would have no problem using a vehicle that needs to be recharged after 80 miles, others send their drivers out on calls for an entire day, and that means that they'll have no way to recharge as they drive around. As a result, the e-NV200 probably isn't the best choice for a lot of companies searching for a way to cut down their fuel bills.

Our Take

In the end, we're impressed with the Nissan e-NV200, and we think that commercial vehicles present an excellent use for EV technology, since most businesses could easily charge their vans overnight when they're not in use. Sure, the e-NV200 isn't for everyone, but neither is the LEAF, and businesses that can use the e-NV200 will certainly appreciate the savings on fuel bills. Unfortunately, the e-NV200 isn't available just yet, as it's still in pre-production stages. We suspect that Nissan will find more than a few buyers for the e-NV200 when it finally reaches the market.

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Used 2014 Nissan NV200
Used 2014 Nissan NV200
$11,985
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Nissan e-NV200: Real World Review - Autotrader