Electric space gliders

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Electric space gliders

With the Opel Zafira-e Life and the Mercedes EQV, two new MPVs with electric drive are being launched.

Opel Zafira e-Life

E-cars are becoming more and more a part of the street scene. In September, 13.4% of newly registered passenger cars were battery-electric; a total of 11,169 Stromers were redeemed in Switzerland in 2020; 26.5% more than last year.

On the one hand, this is certainly due to the continuously growing charging infrastructure and the generally increasing interest in alternative drives. Above all, however, the increase in new registrations is a direct result of the growing range of electric cars. After the Stromer were almost exclusively at home in the small car segment, numerous compact cars, sedans and SUVs have followed in recent years. And now the time for electric people carriers seems to have come. Almost at the same time, Opel and Mercedes are sending their representatives from this league to the starting line.

Conceptually, the Zafira-e Life and the EQV are quite similar. They are both based on the platform of their respective combustion engine siblings, have an electric motor that drives the front wheels and stow their battery packs under the floor. Because here the large vans have a decisive advantage: they offer a lot of space to accommodate the batteries. This compensates for the biggest disadvantage of this design to a certain extent. Because a people carrier, based on a panel van, is extremely unfavorable in the wind. The high air resistance results in increased consumption and therefore less range; this can only be compensated for with a large battery.

Opel sends the Zafira-e Life onto the road with either a 50 or 75 kWh battery, while the EQV from Mercedes is only available with a 90 kWh battery. Both space giants thus achieve a range of more than 300 kilometers according to the WLTP measurement.

Electric space gliders-Drive front wheel drive auto

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Electric space gliders-Drive front wheel drive auto

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Electric space gliders-Drive front wheel drive auto L×W×H

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Electric space gliders-Drive front wheel drive auto L×W×H

Opel Zafira e-Life

This should also make longer journeys possible, even if the aerodynamic disadvantages come into play on the motorway. But both MPVs have a fast charging option; in the case of the Opel, charging with a maximum of 100 kW takes 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the battery size. The battery of the EQV charges with a maximum of 110 kW and is therefore also 80% fully charged again after 45 minutes.

This also makes family vacations possible – especially since both candidates do not want to compromise on space. The interior remains untouched in the E variants, so that there is space for up to nine people and plenty of luggage. The Opel is available in three body lengths from 4.60 to 5.20 meters, with the EQV you can choose between two versions with an external length of 5.14 or 5.37 meters.

Not just for the family

Both the Opel Zafira-e Life and the Mercedes EQV can be interesting for families with their space, if you really depend on such a large car. The two manufacturers are considering commercial customers such as hotels, taxi companies or event organizers as another important target group for the electric passenger transporters. The electrically powered large-capacity vehicles are ideally suited as a shuttle bus for short and medium-distance routes. Not only because they are locally emission-free and shine thanks to the e-drive with unrivaled low maintenance costs, but also because they are clearly superior to their combustion engine counterparts with the driving characteristics typical of e-cars.

Both the Opel and the Mercedes impress on the first test drive with an even torque and a jolt-free, practically noiseless drive. The Opel Zafira-e Life shares the drive with the compact Corsa; in the city this is not noticeable. Despite weighing more than two tons, the Zafira-e seems to accelerate effortlessly and easily swims with traffic; out of town and on the freeway, the drive then seems sluggish and needs a little more start-up to get up to freeway speed. The chassis is designed to be comfortable, but thanks to the battery mounted deep in the car, the body roll in curves is surprisingly low.

This also applies to the Mercedes, which is available with air suspension for even better comfort at an additional cost. The noise insulation is also better than in the Opel and the interior has a higher quality design and finish, which means that the EQV lives up to the reputation of the brand and, above all, the significantly higher basic price.

Accordingly, the star also offers a little more in terms of drive. The e-machine offers a maximum of 204 hp and 362 Nm, around 100 Nm more torque than the Opel. This means that the EQV accelerates more powerfully and confidently; the maximum speed is limited to 140 km/h, for an additional charge of 150 francs 160 km/h are possible, but this is at most worthwhile if you want to be on the German autobahn more often.

Electric space gliders-electric

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Electric space gliders-Drive front wheel drive auto L×W×H

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Electric space gliders-Drive front wheel drive auto L×W×H

Mercedes-Benz EQV

Opel will open the order books for the Zafira-e Life this fall; the base price for Switzerland has not yet been determined, but it should be just under 60,000 francs. The version with a larger 75 kWh battery will follow in early 2021.

The EQV from Mercedes can already be ordered, but with at least 78,610 francs it is in a significantly higher price league. The version with a long wheelbase costs from CHF 79,579.

Opel Zafira-e Life

Engine:electric machine

Power: 136 hp/260 Nm

Drive: front wheel drive, auto.

L×W×H: 4956×2010×1890mm

trunk volume: up to 4200 l

Weight: 2140kg

battery capacity: 75kWh

Vmax: 130km/h

Consumption WLTP: 24.4kWh/100km

Mercedes-Benz EQV

Engine: 1x electric machine

Power: 204 hp/362 Nm

Drive: front wheel drive, auto.

L×W×H: 5140×1928×1901mm

trunk volume: up to 4630 l

Weight: 2635kg

battery capacity: 90kWh

Vmax: 140km/h

Consumption WLTP: 24.8kWh/100km

reach WLTP: 363 km

Price: from 78610 francs

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