The Morris name returns: the Morris JE electric van

16th October 2019
Bob Murray

The belovedMorris J van is making a battery-powered comeback, 58 years after the last one was made. That friendly face – these days a familiar sight at festivals as a pizza, ice cream or coffee van – has been reimagined by a Midlands-based automotive start-up as the first of “a new era” of electric Morris CVs. 


From the images so far released, the electric J-type for the 21stcentury, badged the Morris JE, has the charm of the original… along with one thing definitely not available at its launch in 1948: a carbon-fibre body! 

The company behind the JE, Worcestershire-based Morris Commercial, says its modern interpretation of a timeless British classic combines the latest technology with high-quality craftsmanship. The company insists the JE is designed for both business and pleasure, but is not so far giving an indication of price for what will clearly be a premium product. 

The JE is based on a lightweight chassis with lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor. The carbon-fibre body is said to make the Morris JE one of the lightest LCVs in the marketplace, maximising the vehicle’s load weight and range. Thanks to the modular nature of the chassis, other versions will follow, says Morris.

The company claims the JE has been developed by established automotive designers and engineers in the UK in secret over the past two years. They have a fully operational engineering prototype which is scheduled to be unveiled later this year. 

Morris Commercial founder and CEO Dr Qu Li tells us: “We still have a little way to go to bring the project to full production, but we have the team and the product to make this an enormous success."

The firm says its new debut model has the design DNA of the original but is not intended as an exact copy, but is still “eye-catching in a way that no modern, light commercial vehicle has ever been. It brings retro charm to the EV market, making it a unique proposition.”

Classic J vans today are regarded as icons of British road transport and cherished examples thrive around the world; in period this British export was sold in 22 countries. Many have been restored to replicate the colourful promotional and advertising roles they had in period. In Australia and New Zealand the J was synonymous with Cadbury’s chocolate, while in the UK many J vans were used by the GPO.

As well as the ever-so-cute looks, the half-ton J’s forward-control layout and sliding cab doors helped give it a load space that remains impressive for this size of van to this day – one reason they are so popular as catering outlets. 

Original Js in a variety of distinctive forms and liveries are part of the landscape at Goodwood events. When will we see that cuddly shape purring around here in zero emissions silence we wonder? 

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