New Peugeot e-Partner van 2021 review
Peugeot’s electric Partner van is a dependable little workhorse, and its 171-mile range should be more than enough for a day’s graft
We haven’t got many bad words to say about the Peugeot e-Partner. It drives well, it has a decent payload, it’s well-equipped and it has a perfectly serviceable electric range. Our only concern was the price. At more than £31,000, you’re paying out a lot more up front for the e-Partner than you would for its diesel equivalent but, factor in the fuel savings over the first few years of ownership, and you’ll be quids in before you know it.
Stellantis has thrown its full weight behind electrifying its commercial vehicle line-up – and the company is starting to get to the pointy end of its strategy. The new Peugeot e-Partner is the latest addition to the range, joining the mid-sized e-Expert and large e-Boxer.
The move means Peugeot (and its sister brands Citroen, Vauxhall and Toyota) have a pure-electric offering in every commercial vehicle segment long before stalwart van brands such as Ford, Mercedes and Volkswagen. And, with a range of 170 miles and a maximum payload capacity of 800kg, the e-Partner is a genuinely usable workhorse.
The e-Partner is driven by Stellantis’ familiar 134bhp electric motor and powered by a 50kWh battery pack mounted under the floor. There’s 260Nm of torque too, meaning the van will pull itself up a steep hill laden down with materials and not put up a protest. Unlike a diesel van, all of that torque is also available the moment you flex your big toe.
You might have to compromise a little on convenience compared to a diesel van, because it takes around seven and a half hours to charge the e-Partner’s battery to full using a 7kW wallbox, rather than five minutes to brim the tank at the pump. But, unless you’re covering big miles, this isn’t really going to be a problem.
Once you’ve stomached the expense of installing a home EV charger, just plug it in as soon as you’re home and leave it to charge overnight. And, if that’s not possible, try to source a 100kW DC rapid charger near your house. Using that, the e-Partner can take on an 80 per cent charge in just half an hour.
It’s also surprisingly good to drive, probably because it’s based on the same EMP2 chassis as passenger cars such as the Peugeot 308 and Citroen C5 X. There’s no engine noise (naturally) and not all that much road and wind noise. It rides quite well, too, even when the load bay is empty.
Also, because the battery pack is mounted under the van’s floor, it has a low centre of gravity. That means it handles slightly better than its diesel counterpart and, more importantly, it feels more stable in a crosswind – vital when you’ve got a heavy load over the rear axle.
If you’re old enough to remember how spartan vans used to be inside, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you get behind the wheel of the e-Partner. We drove the cheapest version – the £31,262 Professional Premium model – and it was fitted with air conditioning, cruise control and an eight-inch infotainment system.
It’s been screwed together properly, too. It’s a van, so there’s some cheap trim on the dash and doors, but the plastics are all wipe-down and they look sturdy enough to handle the battering they’re liable to cop from working life. The only wobbly bit of trim we found was the surround that holds the touchscreen in place, so don’t hang anything heavy off it.
Peugeot has also thought quite carefully about how to maximise the amount of space in the e-Partner. So, there’s a load-through flap in the rear bulkhead that allows items up to 3.4 metres long to be transported inside the van. The passenger seat can also be folded out of the way to unlock an extra 500 litres of capacity.
Yes, we know the £31,262 starting price sounds like an awful lot next to the £24,217 you’d pay for a similarly equipped diesel Partner. But, we estimate a fuel bill of around £2,000 per year for the 99bhp diesel Peugeot Partner if you cover an average of around 15,000 miles – and that’s a best-case scenario.
So, give it a couple of years and you’ll have just about seen your money back from the e-Partner higher purchase cost. Also, that figure doesn’t take into account expenses like ULEZ and congestion zone charges, both of which you can dodge with the e-Partner.
Rivals for the e-Partner are few and far between for the time being, with the van’s only competition currently being its chassis siblings, the Citroen e-Berlingo, Toyota Proace City Electric and Vauxhall e-Combo. However, the Renault Kangoo E-Tech and the electric versions of the new Mercedes Citan and Nissan Townstar will go on sale next year.
Peugeot e-Partner Panel Van Professional Premium 50kWh
£31,262 (OTR including VAT and PiVG)
Single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Up to 170 miles