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New 2021 Toyota Proace Electric review

Nick Francis

18 May 2021

1/8
Toyota has entered the electric van market with a battery-powered version of its popular Proace van. But is it worth buying for your business?

PROS:

+ Can haul as much as diesel Proace models 

+ Low running costs 

+ Exempt from low emissions zone charges


CONS:

- Modest range won’t suit a lot of businesses 

- More expensive than diesel models

- Only one trim level 


Verdict: An electric van makes sense for only certain types of businesses, but this electrified version of Toyota’s popular Proace offers all the load-lugging capabilities of the diesel models but with lower running costs. If range and charging aren’t an issue for you then you could save a lot of money over the long run. 




2021 Toyota Proace Electric: five minute read


Electric cars are at the forefront of everyone’s minds at the moment, not least because the powers that be have decreed all new car sales from 2030 must be zero-emissions vehicles.


But if we’re serious about saving the poor old polar bear it’s the vast fleet of diesel vans in the UK which should get our attention, which is why brands are starting to release electric vans like this: the Toyota Proace Electric. 


The Proace’s rivals are the very vans with which it shares a platform, the Citroen e-Dispatch and Peugeot e-Expert, as well as vans like the Mercedes eVito and Nissan eNV200. Toyota believes its reputation for strong customer service and a generous battery warranty will be enough to set it apart in the field. 


While the diesel Proace comes in various sizes the EV version is only available in the medium length, which means it’s 4,959mm long and has a wheelbase of 3,275mm. It looks exactly like the diesel panel van in every single way, including the fact for some reason the petrol flap is still found at the back of the van, although it doesn’t open. 





Only one trim level is on offer too, called Icon, which is the most popular trim in other versions. The interior is basic but practical, with hard-wearing plastics throughout and robust upholstery on the three-person bench seat.


The infotainment screen is small and basic too, but does offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard which means the simple functionality isn’t too much of a worry as you’ll just tether your phone anyway. 


It also comes with DAB radio and is paired with a 3.5-inch colour driver display which is unique to the electric model, showing vital information like battery range.

Impressively, the Proace Electric is every bit as practical as the diesel models when it comes to cargo space and towing. That’s because the battery is housed in the belly of the van, leaving the same 5,300-litres of load room in the back. 


Two batteries are available: 50kWh and 75kWh. The smaller battery offers up to 142-miles on a full charge, which rises to 205-miles on the bigger battery. With the 50kWh battery fitted the Proace Electric can tow up to 1.2-tonnes, while the 75kWh version can tow 1-tonne. 


Both batteries off the same levels of performance, producing 132bhp and 260Nm of torque to land at a 0-62mph time of 13.3-seconds and top speed of 80mph. 





Both versions also support 100kW charging, which means the smaller battery can be charged in 32-minutes while the 75kWh unit takes 48-minutes. However, on a 11kW charge point it can take up to seven hours for a full charge. 


On the road the Proace Electric feels punchier than a diesel van thanks to the instant torque effect of its electric powertrain. In reality it’s a little slower over 0-62mph than the 2.0-litre diesel version, but the off-the-line shove is more urgent.


With the government’s £6,000 plug-in van grant included, the prices for 50kWh Proace Electric start at £34,630, and for the 75kWh version it’s £39,463. For the 1.5-litre diesel model in Icon spec and medium size it costs £30,635 which means it isn’t a huge price jump, and you’ll quickly make that money back, especially if you spend a lot of time in low-emissions zones. 


What you need to think hard about before committing to buying one is whether you can live with the limited range, but if your business is mostly local and you can charge overnight the Toyota Proace Electric could make a lot of sense and save you a lot of money in the long run.


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Extended read…



2021 Toyota Proace Electric Interior, infotainment and tech


If you’re looking for a luxury van then you’ll want to think about something like the Land Rover Defender Hard Top (which isn’t electric), but in terms of doing its job the cabin of the Proace Electric is sensibly laid out and covered in hard-wearing and wipe clean materials. 


The bench seat holds three people and the seats are comfortable and supportive, and the switchgear is scratchy-feeling but clearly robust and durable. You won’t get much more in terms of comfort or a premium feel from vans like the Citroen eDispatch, but the Nissan eNV200 is arguably a more luxurious environment, although it doesn’t seat three and carries a smaller load. 


Toyota is smart and knows that most owners will want to link their phone up to the infotainment system, so instead of wasting money on a glossy, slick screen it has included Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, as well as DAB.


This is all the average van owner will want and need, and even though the system isn’t as good as something found in vans like the Ford Transit, it really doesn’t matter. It’s reliable, and that’s the most important thing. 


The 3.5-inch driver display is the only thing specific to the Proace Electric, other than the drive mode selector, and shows crucial information like remaining range and electric consumption clearly and simply. Again, all you need from your van. 


As it’s available in Icon spec only the Proace Electric comes with useful kit like cruise control, rear parking sensors and automatic windscreen wipers.


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2021 Toyota Proace Electric practicality and load space 


Because Toyota has managed to package the battery underneath the floor of the van the Proace Electric is every bit as practical as its diesel siblings. It offers up to 5,300-litres of room in the back and can tow 1.2-tonnes in the smaller battery, and 1-tonne with the bigger battery.


The sliding side door offers easy access, while the rear doors open wide enough for a standard Euro palette to fit in. These dimensions are the same as the Peugeot and Citroen vans with which the Proace shares a platform, but something like the Mercedes eVito can swallow more stuff. You’ll pay a good £5,000 more for it though, and the range is not as good. 


Charging cables come in a zip-up bag which slides neatly into a storage compartment at the base of the bulkhead so they don’t get in the way or take up any room in the cargo bay. 



2021 Toyota Proace Electric batteries, motors and charging times


Two batteries are available: 50kWh and 75kWh. The smaller battery offers up to 142-miles on a full charge, which raises to 205-miles on the bigger battery. Both batteries off the same levels of performance, producing 132bhp and 260Nm of torque to land at a 0-62mph time of 13.3-seconds and top speed of 80mph. 


Both versions also support 100kW charging, which means the smaller battery can be charged in 32-minutes while the 75kWh unit takes 48-minutes. However, on a 11kW charge point it can take up to seven hours for a full charge. 


Reassuringly, Toyota offers an eight-year or 100,000-mile battery warranty, which is much more tempting than Nissan’s five-year warranty. Peugeot and Citroen both also offer five—year warranties, so alone this could be enough to persuade you to buy the Proace Electric over the Citroen eDispatch or Peugeot e-Expert.  



2021 Toyota Proace driving 


Although the overall 0-62mph time of the Proace Electric is slightly slower than the 2.0-litre diesel Proace, it gets of the line nippily and feels agile around town as a result. For this and many other reasons this van is best suited to an urban environment. 


Three drive modes alter the power output in the name of maximising range. In Eco Mode power is limited to 80bhp which is noticeable when you get your foot down but for slow speed driving is more than enough.


Normal Mode offers 106bhp and 201Nm of torque while Power Mode allows for the full 134bhp and 260Nm of torque. 


It’s worth noting that the claimed ranges of 142-miles and 204-miles will be affected by how much weight you have in the back. Toyota’s own research suggests the average van user covers 52-miles a day, while the average electric van user covers 27-miles a day. Even so, you will want to be able to charge it easily, ideally at home or overnight at a dept, for true peace of mind. 


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Nick Francis

18 May 2021