- One-off mobile office concept tested by Parkers
- Fully kitted-out working area in e-NV200 electric van
- Is this the shape of mobile working to come?
The Nissan e-NV200 WORKSPACe is not a production model. Only one exists in the entire world. And for some reason Nissan has allowed Parkers Vans to have a go at driving it…
If you missed our news story, the WORKSPACe is Nissan UK’s take on the future of mobile working. Starting with the apparent reality that permanent office space is increasingly at a premium – even if your firm does have an office, the irrepressible rise of “hot-desking” suggests a future where you won’t have your own fixed location within it – the idea was to create a comfortable working environment that can be driven where it’s needed.
On a more uplifting note, this also means you can drive it wherever you want to work: today the carpark of the company you’re doing consultancy work for, tomorrow that scenic picnic area overlooking the Chiltern Hills, for example. Creature comforts on-board include mobile Wi-Fi, a built-in touchscreen computer workstation, a miniature fridge and a barista-grade coffeemaker.
The final twist – and/or limitation – is that instead of using a conventional petrol or diesel van for the project, Nissan has converted an e-NV200, the electric version of its smallest LCV. So while this restricts your driving range to just over 100 miles (at best) between charges, it means your supplemental office area produces zero emissions in motion and can be run exclusively on renewable energy if you choose your electricity supplier carefully.
Nissan also reckons electric motors are more cost-efficient than diesel engines, costing as little as 2p per mile to run. (Depending on how you drive it.)
What’s the Nissan e-NV200 WORKSPACe like to drive?
Initially it’s not that dissimilar to a regular e-NV200. While electric motors don’t give you the extended driving range of their diesel equivalents, they produce all of their torque instantly – and in the Nissan’s case that’s 254Nm, so even with all the weight of the mobile office in the back, the WORKSPACe gets rolling with little difficulty.
Things get more interesting when you encounter the first bump, however. Much like the VW California camper van we tested recently, it quickly becomes apparent that the calm refinement you’re expecting from the electric drive – which is near silent in a normal e-NV200 – is constantly interrupted by the noise of things clattering about in the back. In the Volkswagen this was cooking utensils, in the Nissan it’s office supplies.
While most van drivers are unlikely to be fazed by a few rattles, the sound of a Brompton folding bicycle banging against the rear door every time you encounter a pothole is likely to attract your attention.
Yes, the WORKSPACe comes equipped with a bike; conceptually intended to provide swift “last mile” transport into areas the van can’t travel, we also imagine it’ll come in pretty handy should you misjudge how far it is to your next charging point and find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Officially, the e-NV200 has a 106-mile range, though it very much depends how you drive it, and the WORKSPACe’s additional heft will have a what’s likely to be a significant impact on this (as this recent study suggests).
Fortunately an 80% top-up takes as little as 30 minutes – time you can easily fill by firing up the coffee maker for a brew. Or by actually getting some work done on the built-in computer.
The issue with the banging Brompton would easily be fixed by an additional restraining strap (this is a prototype, don’t forget), but it also serves as a useful reminder that you’re driving something out of the ordinary.
The sensation that the WORKSPACe is leaning a little more round the corners than an regular van probably isn’t your imagination – again thanks to the weight – while the white leather trimming on the front seats helps lift an otherwise slightly dour cabin.
What’s it like to work in?
Dour is definitely not a word you can apply to the office area, which fills this e-NV200’s entire 4.2 cubic metre load space.
From the oak decking that covers the floor – including the clever “floating” slide-out extension hidden behind a drop-down panel in the rear bumper – to the panoramic glass roof and individual orange chairs, one of which can be moved from its “meeting” position near the bulkhead to the central spot needed to access the computer, this is a light, airy and uplifting environment. If also a little bit cramped.
That last’s hardly a surprise, since while the e-NV200 boasts best-in-class cargo capacity, it is still a small van, and Nissan has undertaken a packaging challenge that would put the Tiny House Movement to shame.
On opposite sides at the rear of the compartment there’s the desk that houses the computer and a kind of kitchenette area complete with shelving units and counter. The worktop hides a secondary battery and power supply unit, plus the coffee machine, which rises up to counter-level by means of an electric lifting mechanism – very James Bond.
There’s also a miniature fridge tucked away in the console between the office chairs, on top of which sits a Bluetooth sound system and a wireless charging pad for compatible smartphones. Speaking of which, the final touch of luxury is the LED lighting system, its adaptable colouring controlled by a smartphone app that takes its hues/cues from any uploaded photograph.
If you’re looking for a techy space that shows off how forward-thinking your business is, this is it – and of course the added bonus is you can actually take it to your clients instead of them having to travel to you.
Is it going to catch on?
We suspect there’s some way to go yet before vans like this become a regular sight in charging bays across the country – for one thing, Nissan hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with the amount this particular conversion cost. But it is an interesting insight into the way people may work in the not too distant future.
Of course, many van drivers already use their vehicle as an office – as the increasing number of options such as middle passenger seats that transform into desk surfaces indicates.
We can’t imagine a large number of these drivers would be willing to give over valuable load space capacity in order to make the experience more comfortable, but the trend for vans as more than mere delivery vessels is set to continue, if indeed there was ever such a thing.