Mia's plug-in electric delivery van puts driver front and center


February 27, 2012

French/German electric vehicle manufacturer mia has developed a small plug-in delivery van with a top speed of 68 mph and a battery range of up to 80 miles

French/German electric vehicle manufacturer mia has developed a small plug-in delivery van with a top speed of 68 mph and a battery range of up to 80 miles

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About this time last year, it was reported that Europeans were leading the way in reducing automotive traffic in the city, resulting in improvements to air quality and in living standards. Many municipalities look upon electric vehicles in a more favorable light to their gas-guzzling cousins, though, which makes them an increasingly appealing option for those who depend on being able to drive through city for their livelihoods.

Electric taxis are already zipping their way through the maze of busy city streets, and the Ford Transit Connect electric van we featured in 2010 is now ready for transporting over 130 cubic feet (more than 3,800 liters) of cargo. Small-scale courier services, electricians or plumbers on the lookout for something a little smaller and lighter than Ford's trailblazer, but with a similar battery range and speed, may well find the novel mia electric microvan a very good fit indeed.

Part of a series (more on the other models later), probably the most striking feature of the mia U is the seating of the driver in a central position. The manufacturer states that this gives better all-round visibility, as well as giving plenty of room for the mounting of a smartphone, tablet computer, GPS device or music player to either side of the driver. Of course, it also means that the makers don't have to worry about building separate left- and right-hand drive models.

The mia U is a single occupancy vehicle of some 10.46 feet (3.19 meters) in length, although the manufacturer can equip the vehicle with two seats if desired at the cost of reducing the 53 cubic feet (1,500 liters) of cargo space behind the driver seat. The contents of the microvan can be accessed via the rear door or a lateral sliding door on either side of the driver. It's capable of a top speed of 68 mph (100km/h) thanks to its 18kW (peak) asynchronous electric motor, which also delivers a maximum torque of 58 Nm.

There are two battery options available. The 8 kWh LiFePO4 Lithium iron phosphate battery pack gives a range of up to 56 miles (90 km) and is fully charged in just three hours via a standard 230V/16A plug, although the manufacturer says that a quick 10 minute top up should be good for at least five miles (eight km) - hopefully enough for the homeward journey. A 12 kWh battery pack will extend the vehicle's range to up to 80.77 miles (130 km), and charge time is five hours.

Said to have been developed with city center deliveries in mind, the mia U is something of a lightweight too. The 8kWh version tips the scales at a very low 1,686.5 pounds (765 kg), while the 12kWh model weighs in at just 1,732.8 pounds (786kg) - which doubtless contributes to the microvan's extremely economical power consumption and low running costs (about US$1.34/one euro per 62 miles/100 km).

As someone who is regularly woken in the early hours to the awful clatter of a voiturette sans permis as the driver delivers the morning newspaper, I can personally appreciate that one of the major benefits of the mia U is its quiet operation.

We've already featured other electric vans in Gizmag - such as Nissan's e-nv200 electric minivan with 145 cubic feet (over 4,000 liters) of cargo space and the semi-autonomous capabilities of the much larger eT concept from Volkswagen - the mia U, however, does have one big advantage over both of these impressive vehicles, in that it's available now.

The mia U is priced at EUR 23,879 (US$32,064) for the 8kWh version, before any green incentives are taken off. It will cost an extra EUR 3,773 (US$5,066) to upgrade to the 12kWh battery pack.

The other two models in the current range are aimed more at non-professional use. The mia L is the same length as the U but has bench type seating behind the driver capable of comfortably seating three passengers, with those with a window seat being particularly spoiled for leg room thanks the central driving position. Like the commercial vehicle, the L also benefits from lateral sliding doors that gives it an outward appearance of a shrunken-down Peugeot 1006.

There's nearly 15 cubic feet (420 liters) of storage at the back. The 8kWh version weighs 1,732.8 pounds (786 kg), which increases to 1,843 pounds (836 kg) for the 12kWh model. Passenger seats are fitted with an ISOFIX system for attaching child seats, and there's a three-point safety belt on all seats. Other safety features include ABS and Active Brake Assist as standard to help with emergency stopping, a central airbag for the driver and central locking for the doors and trunk.

The mia L carries a price tag of EUR 25,974 (US$34,877) for an 8kWh version, before incentives, with the higher capacity battery pack adding the same amount to the cost as with the mia U.

The remaining bare-bones electric vehicle in a range that's said to have proudly and unpretentiously turned its back on a market where extreme power and good looks are king, is the standard mia. Its length of 9.4 feet (2.87 meters) and tight turning circle of 14 feet (4.5 meters) makes it quite the parking and maneuvering performer. It weighs just 1,686.5 pounds (765 kg) with the 8kWh battery pack on board and 1,796.7 pounds (815 kg) with the larger capacity pack, and has just over 9 cubic feet (260 liters) of storage space at the back.

There are two passenger seats behind the central driver but like the other models, it benefits from those sliding side doors and features a bowed floor and roof to make it easier to get in and out.

The mia standard will cost EUR 24,927 (US$33,469) for the 8kWh version, without any eco bonuses being taken off, and there's the same extra charge for an improved battery life as with the other models.

This economical urban vehicle concept was originally developed for contract vehicle production company Heuliez, by Patrick Largeau. In July 2010 the newly-formed French/German company mia electric took over the electric division of Heuliez, which had previously been involved in the production of electric versions of the Peugeot 106 and Citroen Saxo, and gave the car a new identity.

The modern assembly line at Cerizay, in the west of France, began commercial production of the mia range in June 2011, but didn't enter the consumer marketplace until September. The factory is now reported to be capable of churning out around 1,000 mia vehicles per month. The mia has already been adopted by local authorities in the French cities of Angoulême, La Rochelle and Nice for employee car share schemes.

The mia range, including an exclusive miaparis model, will feature at the 82nd Geneva International Motor Show from 8 to 18 March, before hopping over the English Channel in May to go on sale in the UK. These electric vehicles have just qualified for the government's Plug-In Car and Van grants, which could cut up to GBP 5,000 (US$7,927) off the cost of purchase of a mia car and up to GBP 8,000 (US$12,683) off the cost of a mia van.

Source: mia electric

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

I'd give it an A- Good attempt but the off center driver's station is a no go and really wastes a lot of space for longer, wider items. And those wings off the steering wheel are just a desperate attempt at style with no purpose.

Also, if they put four small drive motors in the wheels, you'd have a 4 wheel drive that would work in snow and also allow the driver's station to be moved forward giving even more room. The test is a 4x8 sheet of plywood. Build one that can accommodate a sheet of plywood and drive it through a foot of snow and you've got a winner.


If voiturette sans permis present a noise problem deal with the noise problem. ICE doesn't have to be noisy. By putting the driver in the middle they decreased the safe and comfortable number of passengers by at least one and perhaps two.


Here's the manufacturers answers - wings off the steering wheel - dont think so , they are the tops of the electronic units , we developed a test vehicle for michelin motorised wheels . Too energy greedy at the moment. Can't move the drivers seat forward any more need room for the crash box- its an N1 or M1 vehicle. On the contrary central driving creates 3 comfortable seats instead of 4 cramped ones and improves safety. Seems your reviewers haven't actually seen the car yet ?

Richard Deslandes

@Richard Deslandes: thank you for your input. This website needs more developer feedback, like you have provided.

As you might suspect, there are plenty of anonymous "armchair geniuses" on the internet forums that second-guess any technology, with no evidence to support their arguments or business opinions.

The majority of us here applaud vehicular advancements, and realize there are ideas that can be important for various niches of drivers/businesses.

Three cheers.

Dr. Rings

Matt Rings

A+ here. A parking lot accident "totaled" my Kia (Ford Aspire) which has square lower door edges rather than rounded doors; allowing my wheelchair to easily roll in behind the driver seat. I have been looking at Fiats, Toyota, Smart -anything to remain small. All fail. I do not want a Camero or Mustang just to get my 'chair into.

With square doorsills on both sides and unobstructed seat entry/exit - this is the most useful design I have seen for years!

Chris Jordan

I think this is a very good design. I like the idea of the thought that went behind the power supply. It is adequate for it roll. All trade men fit some sort of roof rack on their vehicles and this would answer that problem of a 4x8 sheet of plywood. I sure this could be designed on the trade version. I would buy one. It makes sense and is more practical in small villages you get all over Europe and Asia. Gerard. PS. Great Mag. I look forward to every link and read all the content. Keep up the good work.

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