Peugeot has extended its Partner delivery-van range to include a battery-powered variant, with a sneak preview of the Prologue electric concept van at this month's Hanover Motor Show.
The production version will be released in Europe during the second quarter of 2013; at this stage there are no plans to bring the Partner Electric to South Africa.
It's based on the restyled Partner that was introduced in the second quarter of 2012, with its electric drive train under the bonnet, consisting of a permanent-magnet, synchronous electric motor that delivers 49kW and 200Nm, available instantly, driving through a constant single-speed gear-reduction unit.
Because peak torque is available from standstill, the Partner Electric moves off smartly and accelerates smoothly up to cruising speed, in almost complete silence and without changing gears - which makes it an absolute pleasure to drive in city traffic. An electronic stability system with hill hold is also standard.
BATTERIES UNDER THE LOAD FLOOR
The amps that make it all happen are provided by two high-energy lithium-ion battery packs with a combined capacity of 22.5kW/h mounted under the load floor on either side of the rear axle.
That way they don't steal any volume from the cargo space - and having them so low down improves the van's stability, especially when it's empty.
Peugeot says the batteries will give the Partner Electric a range of 170km, which puts it near the top of its class but, to put that into perspective, if you have a business in the southern suburbs of Johannesburg that has a customer in Pretoria North, your Partner Electric will have to stay overnight after every delivery, before it can come home to mama.
The batteries can either be charged from a conventional 220V socket - which takes six to nine hours, or from a 380V, three-phase fast charger at anything up to 125A, which will get the batteries up to 80 percent of full capacity in 30 minutes flat.
The 220V charging plug is under a flap on the right hand front wing, while the three-phase socket takes the place of the fuel filler flap on the left hand rear wing.
The instrument panel of the Partner Electric includes an energy consumption or recovery indicator, to help the driver make the most of the amps he's got (and get a few back on the overrun and under braking!) while a second meter shows how much power is being used by the heating and air-conditioning systems, and the trip computer displays the remaining range and the average energy consumption in kWh.
An electric heater, with no compressor to chew current, provides rapid warming for the cabin on cold mornings. The aircon also has an 'eco mode' that maintains ventilation in the cabin without using too much power.