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New LEVC VN5: name confirmed for range extender van

The LEVC VN5 van is based on the TX London taxi and boasts an all-electric range of over 60 miles

More details have emerged about the new range extending van from the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC). The model, which is due to go on sale at the end of the year, will be called the LEVC VN5, giving it a name similar to the TX taxi, with which it shares its running gear.

As you might expect, the VN in the name stands for van, while the 5 refers to the van's five-cubic metre cargo volume. LEVC has also confirmed more information regarding the load area and equipment we can expect to see on the VN5. As standard, the VN5 will have a single side door and 60:40 opening barn doors at the rear. These have openings of 1,038mm and 1,275mm respectively, and there's enough floor area to accommodate two EuroPallets. The VN5 has a payload of just over 800kg, to help LEVC to compete in what the company describes as the 'new one-tonne electric van' class.

The VN5 will spearhead LEVC's move from being a taxi manufacturer to a commercial vehicle maker. LEVC claims that once the van is on stream, it will aim for LCV production to account for 70 per cent of its manufacturing capacity, with its factory in Ansty, near Coventry, able to produce 20,000 vehicles a year. It also plans to expand to 20 markets by the end of 2020, and put a dealer network in place that means no buyer will be more than 45 minutes away from an official franchise.

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Under the skin, the VN5 uses the same 'E-City' range-extending hybrid drive system as the TX taxi. That means drive comes from an electric motor and battery pack that's backed up by a three-cylinder petrol engine. This means the VN5 has a WLTP-tested all-electric range of 63.4 miles - more than double that of the Ford Transit Custom PHEV - while the petrol engine recharges the battery to give the VN5 a total range of 301 miles.

Speaking ahead of the VN5's naming, LEVC CEO Joerg Hofmann said: “Our new VN5 further signifies our transformation from the iconic British taxi brand to leading electric commercial vehicle manufacturer. VN5 is a purpose-built zero emission capable electric light van that offers class leading running costs, flexible zero emissions capable range and unrivalled durability. Following our success with TX in the taxi market, VN5 is now set to revolutionise green logistics.”

Like the TX, the VN5 uses an aluminium body clad in high-impact plastic body panels for added durability. The battery and electrical components sit under the floor, while the engine is under the bonnet. The front end is the same design as the TX, so there are CSS and Chademo charging ports either side of the grille, and the battery can be charged in as little as half-an-hour form a 50kW charging source.

Further back, the VN5 has new body panels that create a square and uniform load area. LEVC will offer plenty of load options, including a second sliding door, roof racks and the ability to fit existing racking systems inside. At the moment there's a single body style, although LEVC is said to be considering other variants, such as long body, high-roof and possibly even an MPV version.

Prices for the VN5 will be confirmed in the coming months, but it's expected to cost less than the TX, which currently starts at around £55,000.

Here's our round-up of the best electric cars to buy right now...

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