J-type-inspired Morris Commercial JE unveiled ahead of 2021 launch

by Julian Rendell, Autocar UK 15 Nov 2019


The 1940s styled electric van has a 200-mile range and it is Morris Commercial’s first production model since the 1960s. It has a 1000kg payload and a 2.5-tonne gross weight.

The Morris Commercial JE was revived thanks to unnamed UK and European financial backing and unveiled ahead of a planned launch in 2021.

It'll be priced from £60,000 and set to be built in the UK at an undisclosed location, with the design engineering taking place in a facility in Worcestershire.

The van is new from the ground up, sitting on a new modular platform and featuring a 60kWh lithium ion powertrain said to endow it with a “power-to-weight efficiency that fully maximises the range of the vehicle”. It can fast charge to 80% in 30 minutes.

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 carbonfibre and features a pair of full-width rear doors and a sliding door on the nearside.

In the load bay are claimed to be 5.5 cubic metres of volume and a flat floor with sufficient area for two pallets. Morris is expected to reveal further specification details at an event later today, 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 wheelarches.

CEO and founder Dr Qu Li told Autocar that the production plan is for 1000 units annually for the panel van, with additional variants adding extra volume. "We have had so much interest from large fleets that we might have to reappraise the volume. But that would mean more tooling and more funding".