Volkswagen ABT e-Transporter Electric Van Review
The Volkswagen ABT e-Transporter at a glance
When it comes to the UK electric van market, Volkswagen was something of a late bloomer. Of course, VW had already launched the e-Crafter in Europe, but with no plans to bring it to the UK an alternative was well overdue. Enter the Volkswagen ABT e-Transporter which, despite being a belated offering, still deserves some serious consideration thanks to the fantastic driving experience it offers.
Electric running gear aside, there really isn’t anything else that differentiates the e-Transporter from its diesel counterpart. There’s no reduction in load volume as the batteries are located underneath the floor, and aside from some minor alterations to the instrument cluster, not much has changed inside either. This means that you get a refined, car-like quality just as you would with any other Transporter T6.1.
So, what is the Volkswagen ABT e-Transporter all about? ABT – VW’s electric vehicle partner – has taken the shell of the Transporter T6.1 and fitted it with electric running gear, which in this case comprises a 108bhp motor and 37.3kWh battery. Although this is a tried-and-tested system that was already offered in the e-Golf, it does mean that the tech is a little behind the curve. As a result, the e-Transporter only offers a driving range of up to 82 miles – which pales in comparison to some of its rivals.
Charging is managed via Type 2 and CCS charging points, which are located in the same position as the fuel filler on the diesel Transporter. Both AC and DC charging are available, with a maximum current of 50kWh accepted. When plugged into a suitable source, charge can go from 0 to 80 percent in 45 minutes. The electric motor is connected to a modified version of the DSG twin-clutch gearbox that’s available in the diesel Transporter, and favours front-wheel drive.
While there is a choice of two trim levels – standard and Advance – and it’s available as a panel van or a Kombi (with a second row of seats), the e-Transporter only comes in the same long-wheelbase platform. On the road is where the e-Transporter really excels – offering a driving performance that is smooth, quiet and highly refined.
Thanks to the e-Transporter’s layout – with the motor situated beneath the floor – payload volume remains the same, and in the long-wheelbase panel van there are 6.7 cubic metres of space on offer. There is a steel bulkhead behind the cab in the panel van, as well as a single sliding door and twin doors at the rear as standard. VW offers a rear tailgate at no extra cost, while a second sliding door can be added for an extra fee, as can power-assisted opening. For the Kombi, the same single sliding door features a window, and a tailgate is included as standard.
Where the e-Transporter tends to fall short is with its payload capacity. None of the electric models can carry more than a tonne, as opposed to many of the diesel models which can. However, it’s important to remember that many electric vans are manufactured to cater for last-mile deliveries, wherein cargo volume is prioritised over maximum weight.
As mentioned above, inside the e-Transporter feels largely the same as its diesel sibling. There’s a three-seat layout in the panel van, whereas the Kombi features two individual seats up front and three-seat bench in the back. Cabin space is decent in the panel van, even with three passengers aboard, although legroom in the middle seat is somewhat limited by the gear stick location.
The dashboard is extremely clear and is crafted from quality materials. It doesn’t quite match up to VW’s passenger cars, but it is nonetheless hardwearing. There’s a good amount of storage, with cupholders atop the dashboard, door compartments and a centre console. The centre console also features twin USB charging ports and 12v sockets.
The dashboard includes an energy gauge that is similar to that of the e-Golf, while the 6.5-inch infotainment system comes as standard on all models. There is even the option to add VW’s Discover Media sat-nav with a large touchscreen if you want to add a sleek touch to your van.
A pleasure to drive
Cheap to run
Short driving range
Payload rating falls short
56mph speed limiter
If you’re in the market for an electric van with a lengthy driving range, then you might be having some doubts about the e-Transporter. However, the smoothness of the driving experience and the quality of the cabin all work to make this electric van a strong contender, if not at least one that serves as an alternative to the Mercedes-Benz e-Vito – which currently only has a minute range advantage and feels like a much less refined vehicle inside. Therefore, despite its disadvantages, the Volkswagen e-Transporter nonetheless deserves some serious consideration.
The Volkswagen ABT e-Transporter is available from Van Sales UK in all lengths and colours on a finance lease or contract hire basis. All of our new Volkswagen’s come with a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty and 1-year manufacturer’s breakdown cover, and free UK mainland delivery is included with each purchase. For more information about our fantastic van deals, call us on 01172052661.