Should you buy an electric van?

Tyler Heatley

23 Dec 2021

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Electrification will come to vehicles of all shapes and sizes, including commercial vans. Is now the time to buy an EV van?


The clock is ticking for the combustion engine in the UK, with the governments bold self-imposed target set to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. Adoption of EVs on people’s driveways is on a steady curve upwards, but what about comical vehicles. Should you buy an electric van now, or wait?



The benefits of an electric van



Electric motoring in whatever form it takes comes with several immediate benefits. EVs are more efficient than combustion engined vehicles thanks to their on/off switch approach to propulsion. A like-for-like comparison would reveal lower running costs in terms of fuel vs electricity providing you charge at home or off-peak – some public EV chargers can be very costly.


Another saving you’ll be making is on maintenance. Put simply, electric vehicles have less moving parts to service or go wrong. There are no fluids to top up, fewer perishables to replace and less time needed for upkeep. Some EV makers claim up to a 30% reduction in maintenance costs.


There are also some less tangible benefits to be had such as a more soothing driving environment. Without the rumbling of a diesel engine narrating your day, the cabin makes for a peaceful place to spend extended periods of time. Additionally, businesses want to portray a clean image and highlight how they are minimising environmental impacts. A clean electric van is both good for the environment and public relations.



The drawbacks of electric vans



At this moment in time, battery technology is not where it needs to be in order for you to switch a long haul diesel van for an EV. Vans are big and typically quite heavy, and while the instant torque from an electric motor is a huge benefit, range could be an issue. EV vans are ready right now to deliver door to door, hopping all over towns, but delivering nationwide is still years away.


Payloads can also be compromised by electric vans, but maybe not in the way you think. Most batteries are mounted in the floors, so EV vans like Mercedes’ eSprinter can still carry the same volume of cargo. However, the added weight of the batteries means that the cargo weight is typically down on their combustion counterparts.


In terms of the business case, electric vans are a costly investment. There is currently a government grant of up to £8,000 for these vehicles, but they still come in at much more than a diesel alternative. As mentioned, there are savings to be had to counter these costs, but profitability will likely be dictated by the ability to charge overnight at the depo or at home.



Is an electric van for you?




The answer to that question is, they will be. Technological advances are coming thick and fast, not to mention a whole generation of bespoke EV vans are on the horizon that could change the game. As time passes and we edge closer to 2030, vehicles that suit your needs should become more abundant.


If your business delivers locally with a van that covers less than 100 miles a day, then you’re ready to make the switch. As long as you have a means to charge at cheaper rates, the environmental and cost benefits are yours to enjoy today. 


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Tyler Heatley

23 Dec 2021