Morris Commercial returns with all-electric Morris JE van
The resurrected British commercial vehicle manufacturer has launched an all-electric successor the iconic J-Type van, called the Morris JE
Morris Commercial is back with an all-new successor to the iconic 1950s J-Type van. Called the Morris JE, it’s a retro-styled, all-electric light commercial vehicle with a claimed range of roughly 200 miles. Production is set to start in 2021 and, when it goes on sale in December of this year, prices will start from around £60,000.
According to the company’s CEO and founder, Dr. Qu Li, the Morris Commercial JE is based on all-new, electric modular underpinnings, which were developed with financial backing from several UK-based independent investors. In addition, the platform’s components are all designed, engineered and sourced from inside the UK.
The Morris Commercial JE features a single, rear-mounted electric motor and a 60kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which can be charged from empty to 80 per cent capacity in around half an hour when plugged into a commercially available 50kWh fast charger.
The UK based electric vehicle and smart energy company, Indra Renewable Technologies, is one of Morris Commercial’s partners for the JE project. The firm’s founder, Mike Schooling said the JE’s battery pack will also offer the latest “grid ready” technology, allowing owners to “sell electricity back to the national grid, by discharging their van’s battery packs during the evening energy peaks.”
Like the original Morris J-Type, the JE features a pair of wing-mounted headlamps, a short front overhang, steel wheels with chrome hub caps, a split front windscreen and a stylised version of the classic van’s iconic pear-shaped radiator grille. The JE’s load bay is also lined with wood and suede, and boasts a one tonne payload and a 5,500-litre capacity – which are similar figures to the Mercedes Vito and Ford Transit Custom
Its body is made from carbon fibre composite materials which, according to the firm’s Product Development Officer for Europe, Rob Verkerk, makes it one of the lightest LCVs on the market. The Britsh firm also says the JE’s chassis can be easily adapted to accommodate a range of future body styles, including a pick-up truck, a minibus or a camper van.
Verkerk explained that carbon fibre composites are a cost-effective manufacturing solution for the number of vehicles Morris Commercial plans to produce. The firm is targeting a sales volume of 1,000 units in the van’s first year of production, with production expanding to around 1,500 vehicles during its second year on sale.
Verkerk continued, saying that, even though raw carbon fibre is more expensive than aluminium pound-for-pound, complete aluminium panelling would require either a well-populated workforce of traditional panel beaters, or an array of panel-pressing tooling – both of which are too expensive for the brand’s production targets.
The cabin of Morris Commercial’s JE show-van features a pair of leather-trimmed seats, a leather steering wheel, a digital instrument binnacle and a centre-mounted infotainment system, housed in a carbon fibre shroud. However, both the interior and exterior of the vehicle will be highly customisable, offering a range of paint finishes, upholstery colours and equipment packages.
The original Morris J-Type van found commercial success as an advertising tool amongst a range of blue-chip businesses, such as Cadbury’s, Dunlop and John Lewis – and Morris Commercial hopes to capitalise on this with the new JE.
The British brand expects the JE will find particular use in city-based businesses such as events management, hospitality and last-mile logistics. Morris Commercial also says that it will never sell a vehicle with an internal combustion engine, planning to only produce electric vehicles from the launch of the JE.
Dr Qu Li said: “From the outset, our vision was to bring a new concept to the LCV market, not just in terms of the battery electric powertrain, but also to introduce a timeless design that takes the aesthetics and appeal of such a vehicle to a whole new level.
“What we have created is a beautiful, retro design that sits upon a cutting-edge, modular BEV platform, delivering practicality and functionality to compete with the best in its segment.”
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