[This article was first published on www.carbuyer.com.sg]
The Citroen e-Berlingo is the latest electric van to hit Singapore’s roads, and its car-like character makes it stand out from the rest
It seems like I have become the designated van man here at CarBuyer Singapore, with the Citroen e-Berlingo now the third electric van that I have reviewed in this fabled publication over the past couple of years. The previous Chinese-made electric vans were decidedly mixed, with the larger Maxus E-Deliver 3 feeling like a more well-sorted business prospect than the BYD M3e. But now we go French, and we wonder what sort of electric van experience can Citroen deliver that sets it apart from its Chinese counterparts?
As its name suggests, the e-Berlingo is based on the Citroen Berlingo van, and thus it goes straight into battle with its fellow French rival, the Renault Kangoo Electric. Both names should be familiar with small business owners, as these car-based vans were once hugely popular buys for those seeking an alternative to private cars, given their lower price tag thanks to the more affordable Cat C commercial vehicle COE.
The Berlingo of today is quite different from the ones of yesteryear however, having grown significantly in size over its predecessors. It’s still car-based, but it now sits on the larger EMP2 platform that underpins models like the C5 Aircross, whereas previous Berlingos were based on platforms that underpin smaller cars like the C4.
Still, given its car-based origins, the Berlingo should prove to be a more palatable option for those seeking an electric van that’s easy to drive and manoeuvre, while offering a notable step up in quality over its Chinese electric van rivals.
First and foremost though, the most important thing that van buyers have to consider is cost, given that they are mostly business owners and running costs are a factor in the bottomline of their business.
The Citroen e-Berlingo currently retails for S$68,999 without COE, which is broadly on par with most of its electric rivals. With Cat C COEs now trading at over S$50,000 though, the final on-the-road price would breach the S$100,000 mark, which is a fairly significant cost for any business.
That said, being an electric van, the e-Berlingo is eligible for a S$30,000 rebate under the Commercial Vehicle Emissions Scheme (CVES). This rebate is paid out over the first three years of ownership however, so you won’t get an upfront discount on your initial purchase price, but at least it does alleviate the cost of ownership somewhat.
The other benefit of course is that electricity is much cheaper than fuel in Singapore, which means that your daily running costs will be significantly lower as a result. Citroen no longer sells a diesel-powered Berlingo in Singapore, so we’ll take an example of a similarly-sized diesel Volkswagen Caddy, as well as a petrol-powered Nissan NV200 van for comparison.
|Drivetrain||Efficiency||Energy used per day||Energy price/unit||Energy price per day||Energy cost per annum|
|Nissan NV200||Petrol||7.8L/100km||6.24L petrol||S$3.00/litre||S$18.72||S$6,832.80|
|Volkswagen Caddy||Diesel||4.6L/100km||3.68L diesel||S$2.73/litre||S$10.04||S$3,664.60|
(Calculations are based on annual mileage of 29,500km a year, or 80km a day. Petrol is taken as S$3.00 a litre and diesel taken as S$2.73 per litre as of April 2022. Electric charging taken as S$0.4366/kWh based on SP Group’s 43kW AC public charging rates.)
As you can see, the energy costs of running an e-Berlingo is nearly one-third that of running an equivalent petrol-powered van, while also significantly cheaper than a diesel-powered van. But aside from that, an electric van also has less running parts than an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, and the only real parts that require regular maintenance are wear and tear bits such as brakes and tyres. This results in much lower overall maintenance costs, as well as less downtime for your fleet, and thus greater business productivity.
As a van, the e-Berlingo does reasonably well. Its 3,800 litres of cargo capacity is not exactly the largest in the market, but is broadly on par with the competition, and certainly voluminous enough for most small business needs. It also has a payload capacity of up to 751kg, which is notably more than the Kangoo and the BYD, although not quite as much as the heavyweight Maxus.
In terms of range, Citroen says that the e-Berlingo is able to travel up to 293km on a full charge, which is pretty decent, and certainly more than enough to meet the daily needs of most businesses.
Depending on your charging situation, the e-Berlingo can be charged up in around 7.5 hours using a standard AC wallbox. But you can also use fast charging, in which case it takes just 30 minutes for the Berlingo to go from 10 to 80 percent with a 100kW DC charger.
The interior and overall cabin ambience is quite car-like too, with a decent fit and finish, and convenient features such as the 8.0-inch touchscreen display that incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. There’s also plenty of handy storage solutions throughout, with a number of cupholders and a roof-mounted shelf that is useful for holding documents and papers. Some of the interior plastics are a bit hard and scratchy, but that’s par for the course for any van really.
Of all the vans I’ve driven, the e-Berlingo feels the most car-like in its demeanour. While it is pretty sizeable, at 4,753mm long and 1,848mm wide, it doesn’t really feel bulky and cumbersome to drive. The only exception is perhaps when parking, as you can’t really see out of the back, and have to depend very much on the camera-based rear view mirror when reversing.
Otherwise, the e-Berlingo is smooth and very refined, with a ride quality that’s reasonably supple and well-sorted for a van. It corners surprisingly neatly too, with a good degree of poise and composure, and frankly, if not for the speed warning device that bongs at 70km/h, you genuinely would not realise that you’re driving a van.
The electric drivetrain delivers a whole other level of entertainment too. There are three selectable drive modes, namely Eco, Normal and Power, and when you toggle the latter, you get a surge of boost that can take you by surprise as you hit the accelerator. Citroen quotes a 0-100km/h sprint time of 9.7 seconds, but an impromptu and unofficial acceleration run clocked the e-Berlingo going from 0-80km/h in Power mode in about 6 seconds, which is plenty quick even by car standards.
If anything, the e-Berlingo does bring something different to the electric van scene, with its car-like demeanour and generally pleasant disposition. The savings you gain from going the electric route is of course its biggest appeal for businesses, but the e-Berlingo also goes to show that driving a van need not be a joyless affair.
Book a test drive to experience the 100% electric Citroën ë-Berlingo now!
[Source article: carbuyer.com.sg/2022-citroen-e-berlingo-review-new-price-singapore]