Morris JE van among the most adorable electric vehicles this lifetime
We knew the all-electric Morris J-type redux was going to be cool, but we weren't quite prepared for just how much we want to pinch its chubby little fenders. Combine those fenders with the buttery-smooth, arched roof, body-color wheels, beady headlights and creased windshield, and you have a van that's delightfully British retro. Below its mid 20th century-influenced skin, the JE packs a cutting-edge electric powertrain and modular chassis that could lead to additional variants, including a pickup truck and camper van. Yes, please.
Rather than simply recreate the original J-type, a van it likens to the Mini and Land Rover Defender in terms of legendary Britishness, Morris Commercial reimagines the classic as a proper modern-day light commercial vehicle, pulling out creases and rounding corners with ultralight carbon fiber construction.
The pear-shaped grille is there, but not quite so large and a little smoother than the original. The split windshield is also subtler, an off-color crease rising to a slight spine that splits the rounded roof. The profile is cleaner, the inset sliding curbside door replaced by a flush combination of front passenger door and sliding rear cabin door. The fenders and headlamps are as distinctive as ever, but more cleanly integrated into the greater body aesthetic.
The original Morris J-type relied on a forward-control engine layout for its hoodless front-end and tiny overhang, but the new JE steps into the present with a decentralized electric powertrain. Power is supplied by a lithium-ion battery offering up to 200 miles (322 km) of range with help from the lightweight carbon fiber design.
Morris believes the JE will quickly find a passionate customer base among companies looking to stand out from the pack with a unique, eco-friendly promotional or utility van. The 2.5-tonne van offers a payload of 1 tonne (2,200 lb), with 5.5 cu m (194 cu ft) of storage accessed straight through the rear double doors.
Morris debuted the JE on Tuesday at The Design Museum in London. It plans to begin production in late 2021, selling the JE for a base price of £60,000 (approx. US$77,275). About those other body styles, Morris says: "The vehicle benefits from a lightweight, modular chassis, making it highly adaptable for future derivatives, such as a pickup, minibus or camper van." It also vows to never produce an ICE-based vehicle, so any future models will also be electrified.
$60K plus the cost of conversion might be a bit rich in a market that sells sweet camper vans like the Le-Tour for under £35,000, but the JE certainly would make a stylish, little pop-top with the ability to glamp up the campsite by using extra battery power for accessories like TVs and electric cooking appliances.
Source: Morris Commercial