Morris Commercial JE electric van revealed

The Morris Commercial JE, an electric van with a 1940s design, has been unveiled ahead of a planned launch in 2021.

Revived thanks to unnamed UK and European financial backing, Morris Commercial’s first production model since the 1960s has a 320km range, a 1,000kg payload and a 2.5-tonne gross weight.

It will be designed and engineered in a facility in Worcestershire. The van is new from the ground up, and sits on a new modular platform with a 60kWh lithium-ion powertrain that is said to endow it with a “power-to-weight efficiency that fully maximises the range of the vehicle”. It can fast-charge to 80 percent in 30min.  

Morris Commercial will be an electric-only brand that uses a powertrain claimed to be “UK-sourced”. “We will never make a vehicle with an internal combustion engine,” said the company.

This puts it in a different market segment to Geely-owned taxi maker LEVC, whose range-extender powertrain and chassis are being used for a cargo van variant.

Morris says further variants, such as a pick-up truck, minibus and campervan can be spun-off its modular platform. The JE’s bodywork is fashioned from lightweight carbon fibre and features a pair of full-width rear doors and a sliding door on the nearside.

The load bay is claimed to have 5.5 cubic metres of volume and a flat floor with sufficient area for two pallets. Morris is expected to reveal further specification details later, but it claims in advance that the JE is “one of the lightest LCVs in the marketplace”.

The major selling point for the JE will be its retro styling, derived from the Morris J-Type, sold from 1949 until 1961 and achieving total production close to 50,000 units.

Morris Commercial ranks it alongside the Mini, Morris Minor and Land Rover Defender as a “truly iconic post-war British automotive design”.

In period, it was as familiar a sight on UK roads as the Ford Transit is today, and Morris hopes that its retro styling will have the same appeal of the Volkswagen Transporter Type 2 of similar vintage so loved today.

Retro features incorporated into the JE include a “pear-shaped” grille, a split windscreen and distinctive bulging wheel arches.