There are plenty of luxury and expensive electric cars on the market that go extremely fast and go far with just a little effort. But if we are to soon all drive electric cars, as was recently planned, we also need small electric vans.
And so I borrowed one of these – an Opel Combo-e – one of the five utility vehicles of the Stellantis concern. In addition to shorter routes around the Czech Republic, I also prepared a small move for it, in order to make good use of the tiny cargo space that the short version of this van offers.
The German version of the French van has, like the other clones, its own face with “wings” by the logo on the front fascia. However, what caught my attention the most are the headlights. Although they are halogen, they are really big and have separate parabolas for dipped and high beams, so they shine quite nicely in the dark.
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Otherwise, it’s just a van, and it doesn’t drive for looks. Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out one more appearance element, but more for the sake of functionality – notice the rounding of the lower edge of the windows in the front doors. When I roll down the window and want to stick my elbow out, I can’t because this rounding creates an edge that pushes me. It is the same for all branded versions of this car, commercial and passenger.
Practicality is not bad
While we are already sitting inside, it is necessary to highlight the fact that even in such a tiny car it was possible to fit three seats. Not that anyone would want to travel in the middle, one would rather use the folding backrest of this place with a swivel table or a small storage space under the seat, but it is possible in an emergency.
In addition, the interior is a combination of Stellantis and Opel controls from the days when it was still part of the GM concern; from him comes the steering wheel with levers and light controller, as well as the font of the analog alarm clocks in the instrument panel. By the way, only the analog “fuel gauge” will show the state of battery charge. As a result, the combination is, let’s say, usable – I don’t really mind anything here. And the fact that touch locking and unlocking works on all four handles is nice.
I will also forgive the hard plastics everywhere, which, for example, on the doors, press into the knee. However, it is worse with cup holders that are too small, and especially with incredibly thick A-pillars, which really limit the view from the vehicle. In addition, both the strongly convexly curved part of the mirrors and the electronic monitoring of the blind spot are missing, so the blind spot is really unpleasant, especially on the right side.
I have no major reservations about the seats or the spaciousness, and the one on the far right has two tricks up its sleeve. It is possible to raise the seat and thus place some cargo here, or, conversely, fold the backrest and open the hatch into the cargo area. Long battens or rolls of carpet can thus be transported.
The layout of the rear wing doors is also related to this. The license plate, the third brake light and the handle are on the left, larger ones, the lock of which does fit into the smaller right part, but if you are driving something really long, the left part can be secured with a pin to the threshold after it is closed. And both parts can be opened by more than 90° when you unhook their latch.
In addition, the cargo space is also impressive with a very effective non-slip floor and several eyelets for securing cargo. That small move – “small” because you understandably don’t move the whole apartment here at once – took advantage of them. In no time, I filled the combo up to the ceiling and unloaded it again quite quickly at the finish line.
The range does not impress
How far was it? Well, with enough chargers on the route one can go anywhere if one is not in a hurry, but an electric combo is seriously not a car for long distances. On the “first battery” – meant similarly to the first tank of petrol – I drove 169 kilometers mostly in and around Prague. I connected the car to the charger with less than a fifth of the battery.
In the evening I disconnected the cable, drove less than a kilometer home, in the morning I get into the car and with the indicated range of 240 kilometers I set off via Bechyna to Český Krumlov. The sum of the range and the distance traveled slowly decreases until it reaches only 150 kilometers in the climb after Votice. So I prefer to stop in Tábor for a short “nudge” from 52 to 70% within 12 minutes.
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The second similar stop will take place in České Budějovice and then I can make it to Krumlov and back to Bechyn without the need to recharge. Just before it, however, the reserve light came on, and I connected the car to the AC charger in the square with 16 kilometers of range. In terms of average consumption, it was 24.5 kWh per hundred kilometers.
However, it should be noted that despite the temperatures around zero, the battery managed to charge to 100% in four and a half hours, as the catalog promises. And deliver a total consumption average of 22.6 kWh/100 km after more than five hundred kilometers driven.
It’s not far from the catalog consumption, but it’s also not low at all and it means that even for 200 kilometers on one charge I would have to really try, let alone 250. Perhaps the high air resistance due to the large frontal area is to blame, perhaps on standby weight almost 1.7 tons relatively weak, 136k electric motor.
I swear I tried to get as smooth a ride as possible, as much gliding as possible – the relatively comfortable chassis also helps – and I didn’t go overboard with the speed, but I’m seriously not going 80 behind a truck on the freeway.
It’s enough for the city
So the conclusion of testing the electric combo is entirely predictable – in and around the city, it’s ultimately a pretty good choice for businesses, especially if they can charge overnight and head out every morning with a full battery. An electronic blind spot monitor can be purchased and thus solve the biggest problem of the tested piece.
But it’s still a utility car, for which the alpha and omega are the total costs of ownership – and the price of the car will make your feet hurt. A comparably powerful diesel combo is more than a quarter of a million cheaper excluding VAT and it will depend on each use how long it takes to recoup it in fuel and maintenance savings.
|Opel Combo-e Van L1 Plus|
|Max. power and torque:||100 kW (136 hp)/260 Nm|
|0-100 km/h:||11,7 s|
|Top speed:||135 km/h (electric limiter)|
|Average consumption according to WLTP:||19,7-22,4 kWh/100 km|
|Average display consumption at the end of our test:||22,6 kWh/100 km|
|Range according to WLTP in the combined cycle:||249-280 km|
|Charging time according to the catalog:||28 h (0-100%, 1.8 kW AC, standard 230V socket)|
|7 h 30 min (0-100 %, 7,4 kW AC)|
|4 h 45 min (0-100 %, 11 kW AC)|
|32 min (0-80 %, 100 kW DC)|
|Battery:||Li-Ion, 50 kWh|
|Operating/Maximum Weight:||1682/2410 kg|
|Maximum braked/unbraked trailer weight:||750/750 kg|
|Length x width x height:||4403 × 1848 × 1796 mm|
|Length x width x height of the cargo area:||1781 (3090 through the hatch on the right side of the interior) × 1229 × 1236 mm|
|Volume of cargo space:||cca 2,5 m3|
|Basic price without VAT:||CZK 499,490 (Combo Van L1 1.2 Turbo 110 hp 6th man.)|
|Basic price of the tested version without VAT:||CZK 819,490|
|Price of the tested car without VAT:||CZK 923,990 (list price)/CZK 803,500 (long-term promotion)|
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