Just as it’s TX for ‘taxi’, the VN is short for ‘van’. And 5? That represents the load capacity, in cubic metres.
The LEVC VN5 will launch towards the end of 2020 and is set to quickly grow the Coventry commercial vehicle specialist’s annual production towards its 20,000-unit capacity.
“Our new VN5 further signifies our transformation from the iconic British taxi brand to leading electric commercial vehicle manufacturer,” said LEVC CEO Joerg Hofmann.
He adds it will also “revolutionise green logistics”.
How? With the same eCity range-extender technology as the LEVC TX taxi. A 31kW battery gives a pure EV range of 63 miles. This can be fast-charged in 30 minutes.
Alternatively, a 1.5-litre turbo petrol Volvo engine can act as an onboard generator, creating electricity to give a total range of 301 miles (it’s fuelled by a tiny 36-litre tank).
It is not plug-in hybrid tech, stresses LEVC. The electric motor is in the back, driving the rear wheels; the petrol engine is in the front.
There is no connection from the engine to the wheels; it is only hooked up to the rear drive unit by electrical cables.
‘New type of van’
The front end is shared with the TX taxi, but it is custom-designed from behind the front seats for the target one-tonne van sector (total payload is 800kg).
The VN5 is commodious. Total capacity is actually 5.2 cubic metres, it can swallow two Euro pallets, and has a load bay that stretches 2.4 metres front to rear.
The 60/40-split rear doors open wide, and a sliding side door has an opening more than 1 metre wide.
This gives the VN5 its party trick: one Euro pallet can be loaded in the side door, and another in the rear.
OPINION: Why Volvo is so exciting for Lotus
Mr Hofmann, a former Audi executive, says it has the potential to transform delivery van emissions. In London alone, there are 65,000 diesel van trips a day in and out of the city.
The new VN5 can switch these to zero-emissions electric without the range anxiety of other electric van solutions.
Fast-changing means the batteries can be replenished during a coffee stop or lunchbreak at the depot. And the range extender gives companies confidence to make the switch to electric without the risk of their drivers being left stranded.
Pre-production of the new green van is already underway in Coventry, with a market launch expected in the spring.
Prices have yet to be announced but will sit below the TX taxi, which costs from £55,000. The LEVC VN5 will also be eligible for the Plug-in Car Grant, worth up to £8,000 for commercial vehicles.