Citroen e-Dispatch review

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

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Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

The Citroen e-Dispatch ticks plenty of boxes if you're seeking a mid-sized electric LCV, as Jonathan Crouch discovers.

Ten Second Review

Citroen's e-Dispatch is the French brand's interpretation of the mid-sized full-electric design shared by other Stellantis Group models. Here though, it's backed by a particularly proactive van dealer network which tends to be particularly competitive on price. If the resulting asking figure stacks up for you, then this battery-powered mid-sized van might too.

Background

The mid-sized electric van market is evolving quickly, but it took its first step forward in 2021 with the launch of the shared design that Citroen markets as the e-Dispatch. You can also have it as a Peugeot e-Expert, a Vauxhall Vivaro Electric, a Fiat E-Scudo or a Toyota Proace Electric.

If you've already experience with Citroen models in your business fleet though, it might be to this e-Dispatch that you turn first if you've decided that your company needs to add a mid-sized electric LCV is to its operations. Unlike the larger e-Relay, the e-Dispatch is built directly by Citroen. You'll be pleased to find that the load bay has no significant space compromises over the alternative diesel version.

Driving Experience

Like its Peugeot, Fiat, Vauxhall and Toyota counterparts, the e-Dispatch comes with a choice of batteries. The smaller of the two has 50kWh and won't take you very far - up to 148 miles combined, or up to 196 miles in the city. With the pricier 75kWh battery fitted to your e-Dispatch van, there's a 211 mile combined range, which rises to 267 miles in the city.

There's not to much to adjust to when driving this full-electric mid-sized van. Turn the key in the ignition, then wait for the starting beep, then flick the gear toggle into Drive. There's a drive-mode selector that allows you to switch between 'Eco', 'Normal' and 'Sport' modes. The 'Normal' setting restricts you to 109hp and will feel a bit like driving a lower capacity diesel. 'Eco' mode restricts you further to 81.5hp and reduces the power consumption of the air conditioning and other accessories. If you want the full 136hp of the electric motor, selecting 'Sport' mode unlocks it. There's also a gearshift selector 'B' option that ploughs extra regenerated energy back into the battery, offering more resistance while you're slowing down. Top speed is just 84mph.

Design and Build

Apart from the charging flap and the badge work, there's little to set this full-electric Dispatch apart from its diesel-engined stablemates. As with the combustion models, there's a choice of short wheelbase M or long wheelbase XL variants, but Citroen doesn't offer a high roof option with either powertrain. To differentiate the Dispatch from its design stablemates, there's a Citroen-specific front grille, plus a swept-back pair of headlamps.

Inside, it's all pretty identical to the Dispatch diesel, though in place of the rev counter, you get an energy gauge for the battery. The gear lever meanwhile, gets replaced by a drive selector for switching between the various driving modes. The 7-inch centre infotainment screen (which only comes with pricier trim or as an option) has a Power Flow option which shows you at any given time what's being powered by what. A fuel gauge is provided but of course the purpose here is to show the remaining battery capacity. The water temperature gauge from the diesel Dispatch is replaced by one showing energy consumption by the climate control system.

There's quite a low seating position (for a van), with plenty of seat and wheel adjustment. As usual in this class, a three-person bench seat is fitted and with pricier trim (or as an option), there's a Moduwork bulkhead flap so that longer items can be pushed through from the cargo area. That set-up comes together with a fold-down section for the centre seat that when flattened, doubles as a work surface. The dashboard is almost identical to that you'll find in the other versions of this design, which means that most functions are on the central touchscreen, though the climate controls are separated out below.

Market and Model

As with other Stellantis Group mid-sized EV vans, e-Dispatch LCV pricing starts at around £35,000 (exc VAT and OTR charges) after deduction of the £5,000 Government Plug-in Van Grant and this LCV is available in 'M' standard wheelbase or (for about £800 more) in 'XL' long wheelbase forms. There's a choice of two trim levels - 'Enterprise Edition' or plusher 'Driver Edition'. Stick with base spec and there's a choice of 50kWh or 75kWh batteries, the latter requiring just under £4,500 more from you. 'Driver Edition'-spec comes only with the bigger battery. There's also a Crew Cab 'M' model with extra rear seating, available only with the 75kWh battery and base 'Enterprise Edition' trim and priced after grant deduction from just under £41,500.

All e-Dispatch van models are decently equipped especially when it comes to safety items. 'Enterprise Edition' spec gives you the basics - a driver's airbag, electronic stability control, an alarm, a laminated acoustic windscreen, a full steel bulkhead, storage space beneath the front bench, twin sliding doors and 16-inch wheels. But you'll need plusher 'Driver Edition' trim to get modern active safety aids like autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition and Lane departure warning. 'Driver Edition'-spec models also get a 7-inch infotainment screen with 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto' connectivity, plus body-coloured bumpers, rear parking sensors, a leather multi-function steering wheel and a rear view camera, plus the 'Moduwork' fold-out seat with its seat back table and extra storage (a £300 option with base trim).

Practicalities and Costs

As with the other versions of this design, the EV drivetrain doesn't affect the cargo area. Carriage capacity is unchanged over an ordinary diesel Dispatch, at 5.3 m³ for the M version and 6.1 m³ for the long wheelbase XL. The only practical area where you really suffer with the electric model is in terms of maximum payload, which will be around 200kg down on what you'd get from the diesel. The payload is 1,226kg in the M and 1,000kg in the XL. Predictably, you won't be able to tow as much with an electric Dispatch as with a diesel one, but (unlike some rivals) at least it can tow - up to 1,000kgs.

We gave you the driving range figures in our 'Driving' section - 148 miles for the 50kWh battery model and 211 miles for the 75kWh variant. The cost savings versus diesel model won't of course be as great as they used to be but they should still be substantial. At this vehicle's original launch before the electricity crisis, Citroen reckoned that an operator would save around £100 a month compared to a 2.0-litre diesel Dispatch, based on covering 40 miles a day. Servicing costs will be lower as well, there's no road tax, Benefit-in-Kind tax is levied at 60% of the normal van rate and the e-Dispatch is exempt from the London Congestion Charge.

Charging via a 7.4kW wall box (11kW for faster charging is an option) will take over 7 hours for the 50kWh battery - it's more than 11 hours for the 75kWh unit. If you find a 100kW DC rapid charger when you're out and about, you'll be able to get the smaller battery from near empty to 80% full around half an hour: it'll take around 45 minutes to do the same with the larger capacity unit. A 13amp Type2 cable in a domestic socket will give you six miles of range per hour - and will need around 36 hours for a full charge.

Summary

There won't be too many changes to make if you swap out a diesel-powered mid-sized van for an e-Dispatch. Like its identically-engineered Peugeot, Vauxhall, Fiat and Toyota counterparts, this is a very complete product, hobbled only by limitations with payload and the usual high EV pricing. Driving range isn't as impressive as with a rival Ford Transit E-Custom, but otherwise it matches the prevailing class standard. And Citroen van dealers tend to be receptive to the particular needs of LCV customers.

Of course that's not going to sway you if you were to be offered a differently-badged version of this same design at a significantly cheaper price. But Citroen franchises aren't often undercut in that way. And if so, this e-Dispatch is well worth a look.

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