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Electrique Slide: Citroën Berlingo Electrique is a green way to get the job done

Citroen Berlingo Electrique front three quarter

French carmaker Citroën will build a small electric delivery van based on its existing Berlingo. The 2013 Berlingo Electrique could turn out to be a handy tool for businesses, while reducing emissions in cities.

What the Electrique won’t do is encourage enthusiastic driving. Its electric motor, jointly developed by PSA Peugeot-Citroën and Mitsubishi, produces a mere 67 horsepower and 147 pound-feet of torque. Still, that should be adequate for a vehicle that will probably spend most of its time sitting in traffic. That power goes to the front wheels through a single-speed transmission.

Performance, or lack thereof, includes a 0 to 62 mph (0 to 100 kph) time of 19 seconds, and a top speed of 68 mph. The payload is 1,500 pounds, the same as a conventional Berlingo.

Unlike most electric vehicles, the Berlingo Electrique has two lithium-ion battery packs; Citroën must have thought two was better than one. Both are mounted just ahead of the rear axle. Combined, the two packs store 22.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

That’s enough to give the Berlingo Electrique a 105-mile range, which puts it ahead of many non-commercial electric cars.

It should also lessen range anxiety. A small van with a top speed of 68 mph makes the most sense in an urban environment, where charging stations are more likely to be found. It also means the Electrique probably won’t travel too far from its home base, so getting stuck won’t be as big of a deal.

Then again, maybe it will. A full charge takes six to nine hours, although a fast charging system can charge the batteries to 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes. It’s a similar story with the EV-benchmark Nissan Leaf and Nissan’s growing network of fast charging stations. Citroën drivers will just have to hope that a fast charging station is nearby when they run out.

Citroen Berlingo Electrique front three quarter studioLuckily for Citroën, the Berlingo Electrique won’t be smothered with competition. Renault makes the Kangoo Z.E., which is actually based on the same chassis as the Berlingo, and its corporate sibling Nissan is working on the eNV200 passenger van. Citroën makes a passenger version of the conventional Berlingo, the Berlingo Multispace, but it hasn’t decided whether to electrify it.

Why is Citroën building an electric commercial van? Probably to replace the one it used to make. The first generation Berlingo got the Electrique treatment, with 162-volt nickel-cadmium battery and a 62-mile range. It was a favorite of the French postal service.

Citroën plans to put the new Berlingo Electrique on sale in Europe during the second half of 2013. Like every other Citroën, it won’t be coming to the United States.

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