Volkswagen has introduced an electric version of the brand new Crafter van during the IAA Hanover, an immense trade show for commercial vehicles that’s currently taking place in Germany.
The Wolfsburg-based company explains it decided to offer an electric version of the Crafter as soon as the development process began. The e-Crafter is the same size as the regular high-roof model, and the two vans look all but alike save for a handful of emblems, model-specific blue paint, and C-shaped LED daytime running lights integrated into the front bumper. Insider, a power meter replaces the tachometer, and Volkswagen has installed a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Instead of a four-cylinder engine, the e-Crafter uses a 100-kilowatt motor that provides 213 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough to send the 5,600-pound van on to a top speed that’s electronically limited to 50 mph, meaning it’s best suited to urban areas. Electricity is provided by a 43kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted directly under the cavernous cargo compartment.
The battery pack powers the Crafter for up to 129 miles, and an 80-percent charge is available in 45 minutes thanks to a quick charger. However, Volkswagen is quick to point out that the Crafter was designed to benefit from upcoming advances in battery technology, meaning it could offer about 250 miles of range in the not-too-distant future.
Even with a bulky battery pack, the Crafter offers nearly 400 cubic feet of space behind the front bench, and it boasts a 3,750-pound payload. The effect that carrying a Mercedes-Benz E-Class’ worth of goods has on driving range hasn’t been revealed yet.
Volkswagen stresses the e-Crafter is only a concept, but it won’t stay that way for long. The company is working on fine-tuning the technology, and it predicts that its first battery-powered vans will reach customers as early as next year. Whether we’ll see it in the United States — where the Crafter has never been offered — is anyone’s guess at this point.