While the Stellantis Group recently brought us to Opel headquarters in Russelsheim, Germany, to ostensibly see the new electric power features being offered across these van ranges, the subtext was that internal combustion engines (ICE) are not going away in a hurry.

Europe’s leading van-producing group was emphasising the benefits of their improved battery electric van (BEV) power, while at all the brand presentations the talk of diesel power with significant more efficiency improvements and lower emissions, was never too far away.

Zero exhaust emissions for Europe remains a priority for the group and these second-generation BEV vans which are now produced in-house, now deliver increased range on all models (up to 420km).

The group is also reinforcing its early-stage hydrogen fuel cell mid-size van offer with a hydrogen fuel cell large van, coupled with a claim of no compromise on performance and fast refuelling compared with electric vans. Europe is working to lower diesel emissions and there is now a clear understanding that there can be more ways to achieve this.

The Stellantis Group which owns the Citroen, Fiat, Opel, and Peugeot van ranges has introduced a host of new battery electric vans (BEVs).

The occasion provided the Stellantis Group with the opportunity to show off its new hydrogen-powered van that uses hydrogen-powered fuel cells to generate energy for clean electric van power. It’s still a good while away from production.

Hydrogen has benefits in terms of zero emissions, 500km rated van range and fast refuelling. But the bad news is that it’s going to add at least 50% to the price of a large van.

What we saw at the Stellantis van event were new looks for all of the van models from the Citroën Berlingo to the Opel Movano and everything in between.

Brand identity in terms of external styling has given some opportunities for visual differentiation, but in reality, you don’t have to dig deep to see that there are lots of technical similarities across the four van brands.

Uniquely, Opel has a special Matrix LED light system using 14 LED lights available on the Combo, while Citroën claims best in class seating comfort.

The new Peugeot E-5008 range will also include a new petrol hybrid version that charges while driving.

Peugeot claims that its Allure styling in commercial vehicles is all about design and is very distinctive in the light van market. Fiat proclaims 40 years of customer empathy around its Ducato van range.

Across the range, there’s a new form of off-road driving grip control system that’s now available within a work site pack for both ICE engine and BEV vans, which is not widely promoted and also gives enhanced ground clearance.

There are minor interior styling differences but, in many ways, it’s like a van of all sorts offering because you get the same flavour driving any one of the brands. Similarities included improved BEV range, options of electronic rear-view camera and up to 18 advanced safety warning systems (ADAS), along with lots of new vehicle conductivity.

Smooth driving

Out on the road, the vans showed their capacity to deliver smooth driving and good load capacity. The test drives were short and local and did not challenge their electric range claims.

All vans were weight loaded and their battery capacities met their claims of range.

They claim a best-in-class range of over 340km. In the new mid-size BEV vans, battery packs offer 50kWh or 75kWh of energy and up to 350km range.

In the larger van offering, a 110kWh battery claims to deliver a range of up to 420km. They also claim that fast charging at 150kW will take the large van’s battery from 0% to 80% in less than one hour.

All vans feature internal styling changes, while the front grille changes on the medium-sized vans offer them an opportunity for some level of brand identity.

Peugeot retains a modified version of its I-Cockpit styling system, as an example.

The van business is important for the Stellantis Group, and it now accounts for one third of turnover.

Between the brands, which also include Vauxhall in Britain, they have significant market strength in Europe, parts of Africa and the Middle East. America is the new challenge for the group, and this is where the hydrogen power is expected to make big inroads.

There is also a new larger van on the way. This will be in the 4.5t group, a sign that Stellantis wants to grow its van future.

Hydrogen power is on the way for the larger vans from the Stellantis Group such as the Jumpy or Expert in the Irish market.

The Stellantis priorities for its van ranges include more zero emissions vans as the group already claims 40% of the BEV market in Europe.

A second priority is to give an enhanced customer experience and that doesn’t just mean a wider range of products. It means that vans for the future must be more closely in line with customer expectations. That includes four-year preventive maintenance programmes through anticipation to avoid unexpected ownership costs.

The third priority area is giving more attention to van conversions. Stellantis claims that 50% of its vans go to conversion companies, be they specific-purpose vans or camper vans.

Stellantis wants to enhance that connection with conversion companies to offer more options is an easier process.

But the clear message is that diesel engines haven’t gone away just yet. The new-generation diesel engines have more Fiat heritage than that of the Citroën/Peugeot PSA Group side of the Stellantis family.

Managing range anxiety through an ever-expanding European network of fast-charging facilities will make the electric choices more acceptable.

So too will an improved BEV van range, now creeping over the 450km in WLPR economy figures.

And that’s the kind of pace or progress that will move the BEV van market forward, because in every other way, apart from price, and towing ability, they will make more sense in the very near future, especially as a low ownership cost farm runabout vehicle.

In the meantime, we can still count on modern and more efficient diesel power to deliver improved economy, lower emissions, and practical towing ability for vans.

ICE engines still have a medium-term future in the van world. Government decisions on fuel taxes will impact the future direction of van power more than the actual performance and emissions profile of the vans themselves.

Peugeot reveals new E-5008 SUV

Peugeot revealed the new E-5008 last week in the form of an all-electric SUV that has seven-seat capacity and up to 660km electric range.

The car benefits from a new structural platform and will be built in France.

There will be three specification options, Allure, Emotion and Excellence, with this latter model claiming to have a range of up to 660km.

Designed from the outset as an electric model, the new E-5008 has a range of zero-emission motors (WLTP cycles awaiting approval) offering from 500km to 660km electric range, including an AWD dual motor and a long-range version.

The car will also be available with a hybrid engine. The E-5008 Hybrid 136 e-DCS6 features the Peugeot Hybrid 48V system, which consists of a new-generation 136hp petrol engine coupled with a dual-clutch six-speed gearbox that incorporates an electric motor.

This is a non-plug-in type hybrid that recharges while driving.

Peugeot claims that this technology offers extra torque at low revs and a reduction of up to 15% in fuel consumption (5.7 l/100km in WLTP mixed cycle – WLTP cycle under approval).

Peugeot also claims that in urban and local driving the new 5008 Hybrid 136 e-DCS6 can operate up to 50% of the time in 100% electric zero-emissions mode.

Škoda goes Epiq in new small SUV

Škoda Auto has confirmed that a new small electric SUV is on the way, but you’ll have to wait until 2026 to see what will be Skoda’s most affordable electric vehicle on Irish roads. The new car claims good internal space with 490-litre boot capacity and a wide range of new technology features.

The new Epiq will be 4.1m long and have a range of over 400km on a full charge. It has new Škoda design features, including a new front grille concept with the front headlights in a lower position, in what is seen as a minimalist look.

There are no prices issued for the car as yet.