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Electric panel van finishes 5,200km road trip across South Africa

Enviro Automotive, which distributes DFSK electric vehicles (EV) in South Africa, recently completed a 5,200km open-road trip across the country on electricity alone with its EC35 Panel Van.

In partnership with GridCars, the battery-electric EC35 visited a total of 27 fast-charging stations over nine days between its head office in Roodepoort, Gauteng, Durban, KZN, and various towns and cities across the Western and Eastern Cape as part of its homologation trials.

“Although the EC35 was developed for last-mile deliveries, we decided to test it on the open road to tick off all the boxes of our local testing programme,” said Gideon Wolvaardt, managing director of Enviro Automotive.

Last-mile vehicles are generally reserved for the final leg of a journey, for example when goods must be delivered from warehouses to homes, and generally not for cross-country travel.

However, to ensure that it will be fit for purpose, the EC35 was subjected to hot and cold weather, heavy rain, mountain passes, and city driving, said Wolvaardt.

The road trip served a dual purpose, as the panel van was also used as a maintenance vehicle for the routine servicing of the various charging stations that it visited. After completing the necessary upkeep, the EC35 was then used to test if the station was still working properly.

Since launching its national charging network in 2009, this road trip marks the first time that GridCars’ maintenance cycle has been completed by a fully-electric vehicle.

“This was the first all-electric maintenance trip done by GridCars. While we understand the vehicle was designed for last-mile deliveries and knowing we were doing a safari, the vehicle exceeded our expectations,” said Winstone Jordaan, GridCars founder and managing director.

“After doing the maintenance activities, it was really convenient to test the charger with a vehicle.”

Wolvaardt added that the trip provided vital data that will now be shared with DFSK in China for use in future product planning, service support, and warranty programmes for its imported EVs.

DFSK EC35 Panel Van specs

The EC35 Panel Van measures in at 4,500mm (L) by 1,680mm (W) by 1,985 mm (H) and is able to carry up to 1,015kg in its 4.8m³ cargo hold.

The EV’s powertrain figures are as follows:

  • Battery – 38.6kWh lithium iron phosphate
  • Power – 60kW/200Nm
  • Range – 280km
  • Charging time – 0-80% in 1 hour on DC fast-charging plug

Additional creature comforts are afforded in the form of airconditioning, electric windows, a reverse camera with parking sensors, and a 6.8-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The Enviro Automotive DFSK EC35 Panel Van starts at R550,000 (excl. VAT) in South Africa and carries a 3-year/60,000km manufacturer warranty, a 3-year/60,000km service plan, and a 5-year/120,000km battery warranty.

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