New Saturn City Van electric van delivers super-low running costs

  • Priced from under £17k, said to cost just 2.5p per mile
  • Available as box van and dropside, surprisingly large load area
  • Up to 125-mile electric range, 500kg payload – but limited safety kit

If you’re interested in a low-cost electric van solution, and don’t need a vast amount of payload capacity then the new Saturn City Van range from Saturn EV could be a solution for you.

Assembled in the UK, the Saturn City Van models are super-compact electric vans intended to be used around towns and cities. Available to buy from £16,975 (plus VAT), Saturn EV claims running costs are as low as 2.5p per mile.

Whoa. The Saturn City Van looks tiny

It doesn’t just look tiny – it is tiny. At just 3,885mm long (that’s less than four metres), 1,450mm wide and 1,900mm high, it’s shorter than a Ford Fiesta Van and substantially narrower than a Smart car.

Saturn City Van electric van - dropside flatbed truck, front view

In fact, it’s so small it counts as a quadricycle under UK road regulations, rather than a conventional van.

You can gauge the width by how close the two front seats are to each other. It’s going to be cosy in that cab – though the large windscreen suggests forward visibility will be excellent. Ideal for driving around town, as is the four-metre turning circle.

How much can the Saturn City Van carry?

Despite its small size, load space isn’t bad at all.

It comes as a box van or a small dropside flatbed. Since both bodies are mounted on top of the chassis, there are no intrusions into the load space at all.

This gives the box van a load space that’s 2,270mm long, 1,400mm wide and 1,520mm high, which we’ve calculated means a load volume of 4.83 cubic metres.

Saturn City Van electric van - box van, side view

That’s bigger than even a long-wheelbase version of the PSA Group’s Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Vivaro trio – the 2020 Parkers Small Van of the Year Award winners. It should also be enough space for two Euro pallets.

On the flip side, maximum payload for the Saturn City Van is 500kg – less than half the amount diesel-powered versions of the PSA vans can carry. Also, the load area is a long way from the ground and the side door access looks comparatively tiny.

Saturn City Van electric van - dropside flatbed truck, load space

The flatbed has a load space that’s 2,260mm long and 1,400mm wide – 3.16 metres square – while the dropsides are 400mm tall. You can indeed drop the tailgate and both sides of the body for ease of access.

What’s the driving range?

Saturn offers a choice of two battery sizes: 13kWh and 26kWh. The claimed driving range is between 65 and 125 miles, which is probably more than enough for a small urban delivery truck.

Charging time is said to be 6-10 hours, and it can be charged using a regular three-pin household plug.

Saturn City Van electric van - dead-on front view, driving

Maximum speed is 50mph – again probably enough for around town, this isn’t really a candidate for long-distance motorway driving.

The motor is rated to 10kW, which is equivalent to just under 14hp. And even though electric motors deliver all their torque instantly, we suspect this means it will feel rather slow when fully loaded.

Tell me more about the costs

Well, the 2.5p per mile figure Saturn EV claims is very low; for reference, our Renault Zoe long-term electric test car achieved around 6.1p per mile, itself less than half the cost of any of the conventional petrol or diesel vehicles also on fleet at the same time.

It’s also less than the calculations for other electric vans, including the well-established Renault Kangoo ZE and Nissan e-NV200 small vans.

Saturn City Van electric van - dropside flatbed truck, side view

Both these small electric vans cost more to buy than the Saturn City Van and have smaller load areas, too. But they will probably also take you further per charge in the real world, are capable of higher speeds, have great payload ratings (just), offer a larger cab area and greater safety levels.

Day-to-day costs will be influenced by your electricity tariff. But according to Saturn EV, based on a cost of 15.5p per kWh, the small battery version should cost around £1.61 for an 80% charge and the larger battery version around £3.22 for the same.

What’s the price of the Saturn City electric van?

Prices start at £16,975 for the flatbed with the 13kWh battery, or £17,365 for the box-body van.

If you want the 26kWh battery it’s £21,115 for the flatbed, £21,505 for the box.

The Renault Kangoo ZE starts at over £23k, the Nissan e-NV200 from £20k.

So what’s the catch?

With the priority on zero-emissions driving at the lowest possible cost, the Saturn City Van doesn’t have the greatest amount of standard equipment and falls short of mainstream rivals when it comes to safety.

Electric windows, central locking and all-round disc brakes with ABS are all fitted as standard, however, alongside a touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity and a reversing camera.

Saturn City Van electric van - dropside flatbed truck and box body van, side view

You do get an airbag for the driver, but electronic stability control is not fitted and there are no driver assistance systems. Being a quadricycle, it also doesn’t have to meet the tougher crash safety standards of modern cars.

You will also have to pay extra for air-conditioning, which will reduce payload and driving range.

Still, we very much look forward to giving this new low-cost electric van option a try as soon as it’s possible. Look out for the full Saturn City Van review on Parkers Vans and Pickups.

Also read:

>> The Parkers guide to electric vans

>> Renault Kangoo ZE electric van review

>> Nissan e-NV200 electric van review

>> The best small vans