A regular Citroën Berlingo

Battery-powered Citroën Berlingos

The Citroën Berlingo électrique is a battery-powered version of the Berlingo range of vans. It has a 162 V Saft NiCd battery [1], a 28 kW Leroy Somer electric motor [2] and has a maximum speed of 95 km/h (59 mph), with a maximum range of 95 km (59 mi) in typical driving. It is used by the French postal service [1]


As the van was designed from the outset as a petrol, diesel and electric powered vehicle, the instrumentation and controls are very similar to a petrol/diesel van.



The Berlingo électrique is equipped with direct drive transmission. The vehicle is often mistakenly described as having an "automatic" gearbox whereas in reality the very wide power range of the motor when compared with the very narrow power band of an Internal Combustion Engine means that gears are unnecessary. The Berlingo électrique has in effect only one forward gear which serves from 0- 70 mph (110 km/h). The 'gear' stick looks similar to an automatic one but is limited to Drive, Neutral, Reverse and Park.

Ignition operation

The ignition key controls the normal expected functions of accessories, ignition circuit and starting. When the ignition key is momentarily moved to the start position the main traction battery relay is energised (causing a clunk) which allows the accelerator to move the vehicle as normal. The function of the ignition switch is slightly different than regular cars as only the stop light and the handbrake light (if the handbrake is applied) are displayed. On other cars all the indicator lights are shown to check bulb condition.


The large energy meter display shows remaining energy as a percentage and is surprisingly accurate. The good accuracy is provided by the on board controller monitoring the Amp-hours in and out of the battery rather than the battery voltage. However, the low charge light is operated by the battery voltage. This can mean that the low energy light does not always illuminate at exactly the same percentage charge across different vehicles or even the same vehicle at different times.


In order to minimise battery usage, a petrol driven heater is fully integrated to vehicle. It typically takes 5 to 10 minutes to warm and provides excellent cabin heating. It takes several minutes for the heater to run down and will therefore continue to operate after the ignition is turned off.


Power assisted brakes are supplied as standard. However, because the vacuum supply from the engine in-let manifold that normally supplies the brake servo is not available on an electric vehicle, a dedicated vacuum pump is used. (Typical operation of the vacuum pump is on for 10–15 seconds and off for a couple of minutes).

Power steering

Power steering is supplied as standard. However, because the continuous rotation of the engine is not available on an electric vehicle, an electric motor is used to power a power steering hydraulic pump.

Design quirks

When the very powerful regenerative braking is active the brake lights are not illuminated. This can be disconcerting for other drivers who may not notice the van slowing significant without the help of the brake lights.

The manual does not indicate that removing the charging plug before it is fully charged can illuminate the 'Electrical Fault Light' which stays on until a full trickle charge is performed. This can be quite disconcerting as the manual states the car has to be taken to the dealer to reset the problem. Also, one cannot, or should not, perform a fast charge when it is in this state.

Speed and range

The actual maximum miles per charge is very dependent on the driving style. Specifically the speed. This is because atmospheric drag is non-linear with speed. i.e. increasing the speed by 25% will decrease the range by 36%. To get the most range for any electric vehicle (and to some extent petrol/diesel vehicles) involves driving at the slowest practical speed.

Typical ranges are as follows.

Range Per
56 km/h (35 mph) 96 km (60 miles)
64 km/h (40 mph) 82 km (51 miles)
80 km/h (50 mph) 58 km (36 miles)
96 km/h (60 mph) 48 km (30 miles)
  • As with any vehicle, driving in the heavy rain increases rolling resistance and therefore decreases the miles-per-gallon for petrol/diesel and reduces the miles-per-charge for electric vehicles. Typically reduction is about 15% .


The Electrique was made available in at least the following countries.

  • United Kingdom
  • Denmark
  • Norway


The Electrique is a simple vehicle with minimal servicing requirements. Servicing information is available at Citroën Berlingo Electrique Service Manual

Battery watering must be done at regular intervals (approximately every 4,000 miles (6,400 km), depending on usage) and this can be done either at a dealership or by using a kit provided by a third party.

Brush replacement should also be done according to the maintenance schedule, as serious damage will result if it is overlooked.

Common DIY enhancements

The basic Electrique does not come with rear seats or windows. It is common for owners to install a compatible (Multispace) rear seat and rear windows.

Similar vehicles

The Berlingo is very similar to the 1992 Ford Ecostar in terms of performance, size and even looks.

A Peugeot badged version of this vehicle was marketed as the Peugeot Partner Electric. Battery electric versions of the popular Peugeot 106 and Citroen Saxo super-minis were developed.

During the time when the Citroen Berlingo Electrique was marketed it had no other comparable goods vehicle rival. Since production ended the Nice Car Company has marketed a mini van and Modec has developed an electric commercial vehicle with a 2 tonne payload.

See also


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