December 21, 2020

Should I Buy an Electric Van? The Pros & Cons

Electric Van

Running and driving an electric van – what are the pros and cons?

Choosing the van that’s right for you is a key decision, whether you’re managing a fleet of vehicles or running a business.

One increasingly important factor in your choice is the impact of your transport on the environment.

An Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has been effective across central London since 2019, alongside the congestion charge. It means vans must meet strict emission standards or drivers will have to pay a daily fee in that area. Other parts of the country are following suit with their own schemes.

Additionally, the government has announced it’s bringing forward a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel-powered vans (and cars) to 2030, in a bid to make the UK carbon-neutral by 2050. (However, some hybrids will be allowed on the roads until 2035.)

All of which means that you could well be considering an electric model for your next van purchase. Here, we consider some of the pros and cons of these vehicles, to help you make an informed decision.

What’s good about them?

Quite a few things actually, including the following:

  • Cheaper to run

One of the biggest pros to electric vans is their lower running costs. Citroen’s Berlingo model, for example, according to the brand, costs under £2 to run for 40 miles, or an average cost of between 2 and 3p per mile.

And with fewer moving parts plus less pressure on the brakes, you’ll find your maintenance bills drop, too.

  • Gentle on the planet

With no tailpipe emissions, electric models are the eco-friendly option. So you’ll be doing your bit to enhance air quality, particularly if your fleet operates in a built-up area.

  • Good PR

Announce that your vans run on electricity on all your publicity materials, livery and branding. You’ll be letting customers and others know what you’re doing to help the environment.

  • Driver-friendly

Most electric models are automatic. With no clutch or gear changes, and immediate torque, they’re great for buzzing around in. You’ll also, for obvious reasons, find them incredibly quiet.

  • Incentivised

Among a number of incentives to ‘electrify’ your fleet is the government’s Plug-in Van Grant, worth up to 20% off listed price, up to £8,000. There are also tax benefits, and grants to help fund business-based charging points.

Some places offer free parking or charging, plus you won’t have to pay the ULEZ charge in London.

What do I need to be aware of?

It’s not surprising that businesses are increasingly ‘going electric’ with their vans, to help make their operations ready for the future.

However, as with anything else, you’ll need to understand the potential downsides, too.

These include:

  • More to pay at first

While electric models are, as mentioned, cheaper to run, the upfront expense is often greater. Clearly, this could change in future as these vehicles become more popular. However, you could cut costs by leasing your van – and you should take into account whole-life costs.

  • Less payload

This could matter if you drive heavy loads around. Due to the weighty parts like batteries, an electric van often takes a slightly lower maximum payload compared with a diesel or petrol-based equivalent. Equally, heavy cargo can diminish the available range you can drive off one charge.

  • More depreciation?

While all vehicles depreciate from the time they roll off the production line, there are some suggestions that electric models depreciate more rapidly. But industry experts reckon this could change in the future as the gap between the depreciation of conventional vans narrows.

  • How green is my van?

Of course, electric vans are better for the plant than those fuelled by diesel or petrol. That said, at the moment, gas, coal and nuclear power are behind most electricity produced in the UK.

  • Charging concerns

While there are thousands of charging points UK-wide, coverage can be patchy, especially in rural areas, and for more rapid chargers. Again, though, this is changing.

Vans typically drive up to 80 miles daily, while the average charge gives 100 miles of power. Yet some may still experience ‘range anxiety’ – the fear that the van will run out of juice before it can be recharged.

Summing up

Electric vans may not be 100% right for every fleet, but they could make a significant difference to your business. Talk to us at Vansdirect about the options in more detail.

We’re a van leasing broker of 20 years’ experience that has won industry awards – check out our competitive deals and excellent value vans, both electric and conventionally powered.