What it's like driving Chanje's V-Eighty Seventy

Pressing the power button to switch on the Chanje all-electric V8070 -- say it "vee eighty seventy" -- panel van feels as much like booting up a laptop or some other smart device as starting a vehicle. And after spending time behind the wheel, you'd almost have to actively try not to be able to drive it.

We found this Class 5 van easier to operate and nimbler than some much smaller cargo vans in recent memory. Chanje claims the V8070 "drives smaller than it is," and you can almost take that as straight fact: somehow it doesn't feel like you're driving a 26-plus-ft., 16,535-lb. max gross weight rating vehicle, and its road manners seem more passenger car than medium-duty commercial truck.

There's some spunk in the V8070's dual electric motor system offering 198 hp. and 564 lbs.-ft. of torque, and it comes on smoothly with the shiftless transmission; just step on it and go. The van's stance is narrow but it's got good stability, and there's enough steering wheel cut for sharp maneuverability and a 26.6-ft. turning radius, about the length of the van itself.

It comes together and allows the V8070 to be very placeable and "thread the needle" adeptly, letting this fairly long vehicle dart more confidently through tight urban environments like Brooklyn than you'd think it has a right to.

We found the controls inside simple and easy to use. Hop in, put on your seatbelt and set up your mirrors like in any passenger car. The 10.4-in. touchscreen lets you toggle between things like climate controls, Bluetooth setup, navigation, weather updates, charge remaining readout and more. It's straightforward and intuitive to use.

Stand on the accelerator, and the V8070 suddenly feels more "Starfleet" than fleet, with a whirring-up sound coming from those motors that'd be right at home on some sci-fi small spacecraft. But it's really more an ambient noise, since inside and outside, the van is very quiet. The V8070 was about as easy to drive as a minivan and frankly, kind of fun, especially when you consider that this is actually a pretty big truck.

"It's a luxury product for a commercial truck for sure," contended Chanje CEO Bryan Hansel. "You could argue it's maybe even a little overdone.

"You can look at it all you want; just go drive it," he added. "Once you get this into a fleet and the drivers are saying, 'I have to have it,' it's not going to hurt us."

The van's cargo area stretches back a ways, and that's the right word for it. The V8070's is a stretched design, but the forward placement of the dual-wheeled rear axle allows the van to turn and drive like it's much shorter.

In our cruise through the neighborhood, we found the V8070 a relative blast to operate. This could be a truck that doesn't take much getting used to for many drivers. It feels like a polished product as well, with good fit and finish and a solid feel to doors, power mirrors, and other accoutrements and controls.

Click through our slideshow for views from the New York event and test drive of the new Chanje V8070.

 

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