In 2023 Peugeot commands around 50 per cent of sales in Australia’s small (under 2.5-tonne GVM) commercial van segment with its Partner range, which offers a choice of wheelbase lengths and model grades.
The French marque has recently introduced its first fully electric variant to the Australian market called the e-Partner, even though this van has been on sale in Europe since 2021.
We recently put one to work for a week, which included loading it up to the max, to see how it compares to its petrol-powered sibling.
This price is subject to change closer to release data
Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
Our test vehicle is available in only one specification, based on the ‘Pro Long Auto’ which means it’s the more work-focused ‘Pro’ model grade with long wheelbase and automatic, which in this application is a single-speed transmission.
The Peugeot e-Partner wears a price tag of $59,990, plus on-road costs. (Image: Mark Oastler)
Design – is there anything interesting about its design?
The single electric motor is positioned at the front where it drives the front wheels. The 50kWh lithium-ion battery that provides its energy is located beneath the cargo bay’s load floor to ensure that the total load volume, floor loading heights, etc, are identical to the petrol version.
The same applies to its compact 2975mm wheelbase, 4753mm length, 1921mm width and car park-friendly 1880mm height.
A sealed metal bulkhead with central window separates the cabin and cargo bay. (Image: Mark Oastler)
There are unpainted dark grey plastic finishes in all the places where bumps, scrapes and wear usually occur in working vans including hubcaps, bumpers, body side-mouldings, door mirrors and handles. The charging port is located above the left rear wheel.
A sealed metal bulkhead with central window separates the cabin and cargo bay, which minimises tyre noise emanating from the rear-wheel housings and doubles as a cargo barrier.
The charging port is located above the left rear wheel. (Image: Mark Oastler)
The cabin architecture, with two bucket seats and wipe-clean vinyl floor, is outwardly the same as the petrol version but the driver’s analogue instrument display has been reconfigured for the electric drivetrain.
This includes continual display of energy consumption levels, comprising 'Eco' (minimum consumption), 'Power' (maximum consumption) and 'Charge' (energy recovery from regenerative braking).
It also displays energy consumption by the cabin heating/air-conditioning and battery charge-level, while the dash’s central touchscreen includes an ‘electric menu’ that monitors live energy flows and consumption statistics plus allows scheduling of delayed charging if required.
Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?
The e-Partner’s 1632kg tare weight is about a quarter of a tonne (247kg) heavier than its 1385kg petrol-engine equivalent, largely caused by the lithium-ion battery pack.
So, even though the electric model has more power (100kW vs 96kW) and torque (260Nm vs 230Nm), the battery ensures it has an inferior power-to-weight ratio, with the e-Partner carrying 16.3kg/kW compared to the petrol’s 14.4kg/kW.
The e-Partner’s 753kg payload rating is also 182kg less than its petrol sibling, so be mindful of these differences if payload is important.
The dash offers small bottle/cupholders on each side plus a lidded upper glove box. (Image: Mark Oastler)
The e-Partner is also rated to tow up to 750kg, but given Peugeot does not publish a GCM figure (how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time) we don’t know if it can haul its maximum payload while towing its maximum trailer weight.
The cargo bay, with 3.9 cubic metres of load volume, is a window-free zone accessed by a sliding door on each side and asymmetrical rear barn-doors that open to 180 degrees for optimum loading access.
With its 2167mm length, 1527mm width, 1243mm height and 1229mm between the rear-wheel housings, it can carry one standard Aussie pallet or two Euro pallets held in place by a choice of six load-anchorage points.
Upfront of the e-Partner is an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen. (Image: Mark Oastler)
The cargo bay is lined to mid-height and there’s protective mesh over the bulkhead window. However, the bulkhead protrudes into the sliding door openings given the need to allow sufficient cabin space for the seat backrests.
There’s also no load-floor protection provided as standard, so to avoid scratches and dents we’d recommend fitting a floor-liner like the thick rubber one fitted to our test vehicle.
Cabin storage includes a full-width shelf above the windscreen and bins in the base of each door. The dash offers small bottle/cupholders on each side plus a lidded upper glove box and open storage on the passenger side.
Cabin storage includes bins in the base of each door. (Image: Mark Oastler)
The dash extension, where the gear-selector and electronic handbrake reside, offers more open storage as does the floor-mounted centre console.
Our criticisms include the lack of a dedicated storage place for the charging cable, which is supplied in a zip-up vinyl bag.
Although it was sitting on the passenger floor when we collected the vehicle, it was difficult to find a secure place to store it with a passenger aboard. It ended up unsecured in the cargo bay.
The cargo bay is a window-free zone accessed by a sliding door on each side and asymmetrical rear barn-doors. (Image: Mark Oastler)
The rear barn-doors also do not have any stays to keep them open when positioned at 180 degrees.
As a result, the slightest breeze swings them shut.
And due to the lack of any dedicated bottle-holders in the front door bins, bottles tend to topple onto their sides and can be difficult to extract when driving.
Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its motor?
The single electric motor and 50kWh lithium-ion battery combination produces 100kW of power and 260Nm of instant torque.
It also offers three switchable drive modes including Eco (60kW, 190Nm) for minimal performance and energy use, Normal (80kW, 210Nm) which is a happy medium for everyday use and Power (100kW, 260Nm) for maximum performance when hauling heavy loads.
The gear-selector controls Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive and Brake functions. There's also a button marked B which engages regenerative braking for optimum battery top-ups when driving.
The e-Partner has a single electric motor and 50kWh lithium-ion battery combination. (Image: Mark Oastler)
The Mode 3 Type 2 wall-box/public station charging cable is supplied as standard, but buyers can also purchase a domestic wall socket cable for home-charging.
Quickest charge time from 0-80 per cent is 30 minutes using a 100kW DC charger while a 0-100 per cent charge using a single-phase wall-box (7.4kW) takes about 7.5 hours.
Home-charging from 0-100 per cent using a domestic wall socket (2.3kW) takes about 24 hours.
Efficiency – What is its driving range? What is its charging time?
Peugeot claims an official WLTP driving range of 258km. The dash display was showing a projected driving range of 280km when we collected the vehicle.
A few days later when we stopped to top-up the battery at a public charging station, after 135km of unladen city and suburban driving, it was displaying average consumption of 20.4kWh/100km.
When charging was completed, the dash display was claiming 270km of driving range. This had dropped to 194km the following day when we stopped to load the vehicle for our GVM test. Average consumption had also dropped to 19.0kWh/100km.
Peugeot claims an official WLTP driving range of 258km. (Image: Mark Oastler)
We then drove 52km with a heavy payload in busy traffic, during which consumption dropped again to 18.8kWh/100km with regular switching between the drive modes.
After unloading and then returning the vehicle to Peugeot, there was still 96km of range remaining and energy consumption had dropped again to 18.4kWh/100km.
So, we covered a total of 271km during our test, of which about one quarter was with a heavy payload.
So, based on its lowest consumption figure, Peugeot’s claimed 258km range in real world driving conditions is pretty accurate by our measure.
Driving - what’s it like to drive?
It has a comfortable driving position thanks to a reasonably spacious cabin, two-way adjustable steering wheel, left footrest and fold-down inboard armrest.
However, the base cushion feels a tad short for proper upper-thigh support and does not have rake adjustment.
The flat top of the rectangular steering wheel provides a clear view of the instrument display while the flat bottom allows ample driver clearance.
The electric motor with its muted hum delivers a liquid-like flow of acceleration that’s different to a petrol engine.
To test its payload rating we forklifted 650kg into the cargo bay. (Image: Mark Oastler)
The lack of engine noise also makes other sounds more prominent, including tyre roar on coarse bitumen surfaces and thumps from the rear suspension over larger bumps.
The extra battery weight is not a noticeable hindrance in stop-start traffic, given the instant torque of the electric motor.
Its location under the load floor also contributes to a low centre of gravity which makes the e-Partner feel well-planted on the road. Even so, it takes a leisurely 11.2 seconds to accelerate from 0-100km/h.
To test its payload rating we forklifted 650kg into the cargo bay which with driver was just under its 753kg limit. The rear suspension compressed 70mm, but there was no bottoming-out over bumps due to large rubber cones positioned inside the coil springs that assist in supporting heavy loads.
The e-Partner comes standard with work-focused 16-inch steel wheels. (Image: Mark Oastler)
We covered more than 50km with this weight in city and suburban driving and its performance was good in all modes including the energy-saving Eco. Energy consumption did not spike as expected.
Our only gripes from a driver’s perspective are the absence of blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, which should be mandatory in all solid-walled vans given the huge blind-spot over the driver’s left shoulder. Relying only on the relatively small passenger door mirror is potentially hazardous.
The other is the cruise control stalk located on the steering column, which is hidden from view by the steering wheel arm. Therefore, it must be operated purely by feel, which can be fiddly and distracting when driving.
Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?
Only four from a possible five ANCAP stars for the e-Partner (achieved 2018) and the lack of blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control, etc, highlight a safety menu in need of updating.
Even so, it does have front, side and curtain airbags for driver and passenger plus AEB, lane-keeping, audible low-speed pedestrian alert and tyre under-inflation warning.
Only four from a possible five ANCAP stars for the e-Partner. (Image: Mark Oastler)
Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?
Warranty is five years/200,000km plus eight years/160,000km for the battery. There are also three-year paintwork and 12-year corrosion warranties.
Scheduled servicing is every 12 months/25,000km, whichever occurs first.
The pre-paid service plan price of $1000 covers the first five scheduled services, or just $200 per service.
Warranty for the e-Partners battery is eight years/160,000km.
It’s a lot of money for a small commercial vehicle that’s well into its current model cycle in Europe, falls short on benchmark safety and requires convenient charging infrastructure to minimise inconvenience for owners. However, its emissions-free drivetrain is quiet and competent under load, with a range that should comfortably cater for the daily urban use small van operators typically require. Whether those positives outweigh the negatives, only a potential buyer can decide.
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