On the road with the new electric B-ON Pelkan

  • ElectricDrives took the all-electric B-ON Pelkan for an electrifying spin.
  • The Pelkan lineup offers two models, 43 and 54, with distinct battery capacities and ranges.
  • Pricing for the Pelkan vans is expected to range from £30,000 to £33,000.
  • Pre-orders are now open for the left-hand drive Pelkan vans.

Van of the future: Cruising with the all-new B-ON Pelkan

The presence of electric vans is increasingly noticeable on our roads. Statistics reveal a 37% surge in the number of vans on UK roads over the past decade, signalling the ongoing need for further advancements in electrification and innovation within the Light Goods Vehicle (LGV) space.

It is also the reason why ElectricDrives was thrilled to be granted the exclusive opportunity to test drive the brand-new all-electric B-ON Pelkan. A van built to be electric from the ground up and set to redefine the benchmark of reasonably-priced electric panel vans.

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B–ON is a provider of electric vehicles, smart productivity-enhancing tools, and electric solutions for commercial fleets. Founded in 2020 by a team of experienced automotive executives, B-ON’s goal is to simplify the transition to electric vehicles for last-mile delivery while boosting business’ productivity.

They will be making their UK debut at the upcoming Commercial Vehicle Show next week, where the B-ON Pelkan will be available for attendees to explore first-hand.

Introducing the B-ON Pelkan Lineup

The B-ON Pelkan range currently offers two models: the Pelkan 43 and Pelkan 54, aptly named after their battery capacities. The Pelkan 43 has a 43.5kWh battery, providing a commendable 226km range, along with a very generous payload capacity of 1350kg and 7.1m3 of cargo volume.

The Pelkan 54 is equipped with a larger 53.6kWh battery, offering an extended 279km range, a slightly lower payload capacity of 1300kg, and the same 7.1m3 cargo volume.

Both models feature an 85kW (114hp) motor and share identical dimensions: a length of 5457 mm, width of 1850 mm, and height of 2027 mm.

Additionally, both Pelkan models are equipped with two seats, air conditioning, and armrests. The infotainment system includes a 10” touchscreen that offers features such as DAB radio, Apple and Android connectivity, and Bluetooth functionality.

B-ON ensures that a rapid charge of 30-80% is possible in under 35 minutes at 60kW. For a full charge, the 43.5kWh battery takes about 8 hours, while the larger 53.6kWh pack needs around 10 hours.

The expected pricing for these vans falls within the range of £30,000 to £33,000, with the final price still pending confirmation. Very competitive for the category of medium-sized electric vans.

The B-ON Pelkans are now available for pre-order, with the initial release featuring a left-hand drive tailored for countries across Europe, focusing primarily on Spain, France, The Netherlands, and Germany.

For the UK market, we can anticipate delivery in 2025 when a right-hand drive of this vehicle will become available.

Design and Features

Upon first seeing the B-ON Pelkan, its distinctive exterior design caught my attention, characterised by its unique boxy shape and striking bright blue ‘tusks,’ adding a touch of flair to its appearance.

The side door of the Pelkan van stands out from traditional vans – opening like a tailgate (or almost like the doors of a Tesla Model X) at the top and a small fold-down door at the bottom, quite different from conventional sliding side doors. While intended to make access to the cargo space easier, the absence of a step in the fold-down door seems like a missed opportunity.

However, the unique rear doors proved to be a valuable feature of the van, folding nearly flat against the side, which will make for ease of loading items. The only drawback was the absence of a detent on the hinge; the doors relied solely on a catch to stay open. While a reasonable compromise, having both features would have been ideal.

In terms of placement of the charging port at the front of the van, I believe this is a matter of personal preference; while some prefer it on the side, the front location offered a sleek and tidy appearance beneath the badge.

Cargo Space and Cab Interior

Stepping inside the spacious cargo area, you’ll find the Pelkan has a good-sized 7.1m³ volume and a class-leading payload capacity of 1350kg, attributed to its lightweight aluminium body.

Noteworthy was the inclusion of a window in the bulkhead, allowing natural light into the cargo space.

Moving onto the minimalist cab interior, the focus on simplicity is evident, with a user-friendly touchscreen infotainment system and all the essential controls in button form, which is a welcome sight. The infotainment system wasn’t quite ready to use when we tested the van, so we won’t be able to comment on the usability of this.

Although the cab felt spacious, another slight drawback observed was the absence of cup holders and storage compartments, potentially hindering convenience for daily use. Interestingly, while there were two USB ports available, the lack of a USB-C port was notable.

While the comfortable seat is tailored for individuals of varying heights and sizes, it lacks lumbar support and adjustable features for seat height or steering wheel position. However, despite this, I personally found it to offer one of the most comfortable seating positions among the vans I’ve driven. As a woman standing at 5ft4, I typically have to slide my seat all the way forward in conventional van designs, resulting in my knees hitting the steering column. Surprisingly, this was not the case with the Pelkan—perhaps due to the lower overall height of the cab?

Driving Experience

Throughout the test drive, the Pelkan demonstrated smooth acceleration, responsive braking, and effortless steering, delivering a comfortable driving experience akin to other electric vans. The single driving mode provided appeared to be sufficient for the driving experience.

I did notice an occasional jump when releasing the brake pedal in the Pelkan. While I appreciate immediate movement in electric vehicles, this jerky behaviour on inclines was a bit uncomfortable. The engineer suggested this issue could be addressed in future updates, offering hope for improvement.

Nevertheless, the overall experience was smooth, quiet, and stress-free. While we didn’t reach highway speeds, wind noise when cruising at around 40 mph (65 kmph) was negligible, and the low-speed hum typical of EVs was unobtrusive, creating a pleasant driving experience.

Despite the lower seating position in the Pelkan in contrast to other vans, I found that it didn’t notably impede visibility. Moreover, the ease of stepping into the cab was a welcome aspect.

Regarding manoeuvrability and parking, the test vehicle lacked the production-ready Pelkan’s screen, so details on the sensor’s effectiveness remain uncertain for now.

Final Thoughts

B-ON’s commitment to crafting the Pelkan from the ground up reflects a dedication to innovation. While the vehicle showcases impressive features and performance, opportunities exist to refine certain aspects such as adjustability, storage, and safety features to elevate the driving experience further.

In summary, the B-ON Pelkan emerges as a promising contender in the electric van market, offering a blend of style, user-friendliness, and most of all – affordability.

Despite facing stiff competition in the medium-sized van category from vehicles like the Vauxhall Vivaro, the UK’s top-selling electric van in 2023, the VW ID Buzz, and the Maxus eDeliver 3, B-ON distinguishes itself as a pioneering electric van startup introducing a fresh perspective to the industry. The Pelkan embodies the forward-thinking ethos propelling B-ON’s mission.

We eagerly anticipate witnessing B-ON’s success with the Pelkan. The commercial electric vehicle sector is ripe for a success story, and B-ON seems well-positioned to deliver precisely that.

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