The Navistar e-Star is one of the most advanced electric commercial vehicles available on today’s market. In the latest years the fully electric vehicles have started to win more and more fans thanks to their green character and the small costs of ownership.
The Navistar e-Star has a maximum payload capacity of up to 2 tonnes and can run 100 miles on a single charge. Designed especially for urban transportation, the Navistar e-Star is a significant step for Navistar as its marks its debut into the electric vehicles segment.
The truck is powered by a 70 kilowatt electric motor producing 102 hp and 300 Newton-meters of torque.
The Navistar e-Star has a futuristic design and looks like no other truck from the mstreets. Its modern look is an instant eye catcher and we especially like the generous windscreen which is among the biggest units ever seen at a LCV.
The Navistar e-Star body comes only with a white treatment combined with a few black inserts. This two tone color scheme copes great with the dynamic design of the truck and gives it a distinctive look.
As we are talking about a fully electric vehicle, the front fascia isn’t fitted with a radiator grille. At the front however, we find two vertical light clusters which are fitted with three round bulbs mounted deep in their black housings. The innovative design of the headlights gels well with the clean surface of the body and further enhances the modern look of the truck.
The most striking feature of the Navistar e-Star is the lack of conventional doors. For safety reasons, you enter the inside using a side door located behind the cab, with walk-in access to the seats.
The truck is also fitted with a black wraparound bumper and with energy absorbing panels which return to their shape after a small impact.
Once you’ll climb inside you’ll find a pretty modern design which continues the same line found at the exterior. The dashboard features a wing shape design with a vertical console mounted in its center. The console is flanked by two convenient cup holders and it’s fitted with round air vents.
All the plastics seem durable and have a hard texture, while the build quality is pretty good and everything seems ready to go head to head with harsh working conditions without backing down. We also like the completely flat floor combined with the generous height which permit you to move free around the cab and to have easy access to the load area.
Another innovative design feature found in e-Star’s cab is the instrument cluster which is mounted on top of the dashboard. The meters and indicators are displayed on an I-Pack digital screen which is fairly big and offers a clear visibility. The I-Pack instrument panel also displays other useful vehicle stats such as battery state of charge in numeric and graphic displays, warning lights, directional indicators, trip meter and odometer.
The gear shift selector is placed directly on the door, so you’ll have to use your left hand to change gears which could be a bit uncomfortable at first but after a while you’ll get used to it.
Despite its utilitarian character, the Navistar e-Star is fitted with a bunch of modern features such as an audio system with MP3 and Bluetooth capability and electric windows. Moreover, there is also a useful iButton which is basically a security entry/start system which opens the door and keeps the vehicle secure by preventing it from being started if the driver’s isn’t ready.
The seats are a bit flat for our tastes, but at least they are fitted with convenient armrests and a few adjustments which will help you get cozy behind the steering wheel.
As it was expected, the road visibility is top notch and the wraparound windshield offers a 180 degree view from the cab.
Engines and performance
The Navistar e-Star is powered by a 70 kilowatt electric motor which develops 102 hp and 300 Nm of torque. The electric motor produces its maximum torque at zero rpm and it doesn’t need a clutch to get started. As there is no clutch you get a park-reverse-neutral-drive control which gives you complete control of the vehicle.
The Navistar e-Star also features a regenerative braking system which uses the energy lost when stopping the vehicle to recharge the batteries. The stopping power is assured by four-piston front discs and rear drums. Despite the regenerative system, you won’t have any complains about the braking as it’s fairly strong and inspires confidence.
The batteries can be easy charged using a 7 kW (220 V/32-amp) charger and takes between 8 - 12 hours.
On the road, the Navistar e-Star is completely silent and feels pretty refined. You won’t feel any lack of power either and the truck can keep up with the traffic pretty well. You’ll also like the low-speed torque of the electric motor, which enhances the towing abilities of the vehicle.
Ride and handling
At the front, the Navistar e-Star is equipped with classical MacPherson strut suspensions, while at the rear it gets longitudinal trailing arms and a lateral rod, sprung with coil-over shocks. The ride is very comfortable, as the truck offers a relaxing cruise and the suspensions can absorb most of the shock without sending any vibration into the cab.
Thanks to its compact dimensions, the Navistar e-Star is a joy to drive around the city and it has a very tight turning circle of only 36 ft (curb to curb). Overall the handling is also surprisingly good and thanks to the low center of gravity offered by the batteries emplacement (the battery pack is located between the frame rails) the truck has a very good road stability.
Unlike other electric trucks that are reconfigured models of conventional trucks, the e-Star was built from zero as an electric vehicle. As a result it has a lot of advantages which include a low center of gravity, an aerodynamic and innovative design and a very tight turning radius.
The truck has also a fairly spacious cab which offers an outstanding road visibility. It’s true that the interior design is a bit extravagant, but you’ll get used to it in no time.
The electric motor is able to deal with almost any payloads without too much fuss and you also have plenty of torque to play with. Moreover, the ride and handling are other strong points of the e-Star and can be considered even better than some conventional trucks form the road.
The e-Star however, doesn’t come cheap, as it’s priced at $150,000, being more expensive than models like the Smith Newton ($100,000) or the Ford Transit Connect ($57,000).