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Fiat Ducato Electric van promises 223-mile driving range

  • Battery-powered Ducato on-sale late 2019, in dealers 2020
  • Up to 223-mile driving range with promise of high payloads
  • Tech details suggest it could be a game changer for electric vans 

Fiat has announced an electric version of the Ducato large van, with plans to open pre-orders for the new model before the end of 2019.

It’s promised the Fiat Ducato Electric will have ‘no trade-off in terms of load and performance’, and certainly the first technical details claim the longest electric driving range of any large electric van so far announced.

The electric powertrain will also be available in all Ducato body variants in order to give potential customers maximum flexibility.

'One size fits all electric van solutions don't exist,' Fiat told us.

Is the Ducato Electric the only recent Ducato excitement?

This news comes shortly after Fiat revealed a raft of changes for the regular Ducato as part of what it’s calling the MY20 update – but although these refreshed diesel Ducatos go into production in July 2019, this new ‘BEV’ version (that’s Battery Electric Vehicle) isn’t set to reach dealers and customers until sometime in 2020.

How is Fiat planning to develop its new electric van?

The Ducato Electric will be Fiat’s first fully electric van – though the car business has been building all-electric Fiat 500s for sale in the USA for years.

Fiat Ducato Electric van, at reveal event in Turin, front view

To make sure the van successfully meets operators’ needs, the project will be launched with what’s described as a pilot scheme involving some of Fiat Professional’s ‘major clients’ in order to ‘better grasp the specific need of customer requirements.'

This follows a previous survey of van driving habits, taken over a year and based on 4,000 vehicles and over 620,000 miles of driving data. From this, Fiat reckons that 25% of the van market is ready to go electric, if a suitable solution can be offered.

Fiat also believes the Ducato is that solution - and looking at the technical details released so far, we're actually inclined to agree with the Italian manufacturer.

How powerful is the Fiat Ducato Electric?

Following the early claim that the Ducato BEV will be compromise-free in terms of its load carrying ability and performance, Fiat has now filled in a few details about the electric van at a reveal even in Turin, Italy.

Fiat Ducato Electric van, rear view, driving

The electric motor drive system is set to provide 90kW of power - that's around 122hp - and 280Nm of torque. The nature of electric vehicles means that this torque will be delivered almost instantly, so the Ducato Electric should have no trouble shifting loads.

Top speed will be limited to 62mph, however, in an effort to ensure it gets a good real-world driving range. It will take 'less than 20 seconds' to reach this velocity, which sounds quite slow. 0-31mph, however, will take 'less than five seconds.'

What's the driving range?

Range is set to be rather impressive, as Fiat is claiming between 136 and 223 miles between charges. That's substantial more at the top end than any other large van on the market.

The difference is explained by a 'modular battery size options', allowing buyers to balance battery capacity against their payload requirements.

Electric vehicle batteries are heavy, hence they tend to eat into van payload ratings.

Fiat Ducato Electric van, silver, front view, parked in cityscape

Fiat isn't saying exactly how the batteries will be divided yet, but has said the battery sizing will range 47-70kWh (kilowatt hours, the standard measure for battery capacity).

A further extremely interesting part of this package is that the battery sizing is set to be upgradable - so you could buy a Ducato Electric with the minimum battery size, but then pay to have the battery capacity increased.

It won't be the work of a moment (so you can't simply swap an empty battery for a full one and keep driving), but we haven't heard of any other electric vans offering this facility before.

How long does it take to charge?

The time for a total charge hasn't been announced - and will vary with the size of the battery pack anyway.

But Fiat is saying that a regular AC charger should be able to give the Ducato Electric 62 miles of range in an hour.

A more powerful DC charger will give you the same distance in 30 minutes.

By electric van standards, that's also highly impressive.

How much will it carry?

Fiat remains bullish about this, too, saying the electric drive 'won't penalise' the Ducato's best-in-class maximum payload capaciity, which goes as high as 1,950kg.

Fiat Ducato Electric van, front view, driving

Similarly, there will be no reduction in load volume (since, as with every other electric van, the batteries will be mounted under the floor).

A 'complete range' of electric versions of the Ducato is promised, meaning that whether you want a basic panel van or a chassis cab or anything else that Fiat currently offers with a Ducato badge, an electric version will be possible.

How much will the Fiat Ducato Electric cost?

Still no word on this yet. But don’t expect it to be cheap. £60k minimum seems to be the going rate for a large electric van.

However, Fiat is saying that total cost of ownership (TCO) will be on the same level as a Ducato diesel. Part of this will be balanced by the cheaper running costs of electric vehicles, but this also suggests the asking price won't be completely over-the-top.

Is the Ducato related to electric versions of the Citroen Relay and Peugeot Boxer?

Peugeot and Citroen both announced electric versions of their respective large vans, the Boxer and the Relay, at the 2019 CV Show in April – and the Ducato shares a basic platform with both French vehicles.

The French duo are using a third party converter to create their electric models, an approach that speeds things up. Fiat is doing all the work in-house, just as it fits its own engines into the regular versions of the this van.

It will be assembled in the same way that compressed natural gas (CNG) versions are currently built, using a sub-assembly area but otherwise following the same production process as any other Ducato.

The under body that carries the Ducato Electric's batteries is also similar to the method of mounting the CNG tanks, apparently.

Will there be any other Fiat electric vans

There's nothing official yet, but we're 100% confident that there will be - not least because Renault is planning to build an electric Trafic in 2020, and the Fiat Talento medium van is based on the same platform (and in this instance will probably use the same technology).

More on the new Ducato Electric when we have it.

Also read:

>> Fiat Ducato 2019 update – full details

>> The Parkers guide to electric vans

>> Fiat Ducato full review