Electric van guide – Everything you need to know

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Fossil fuels are super-bad for the environment. Everyone knows it. But let’s be honest – no one would use them if they didn’t really have to. It’s only through necessity and convenience that we use petrol and diesel to power our vehicles today, but this is changing rapidly thanks to advancements in electric vans and vehicles.

EV growth

How rapidly? Electric vehicle registrations were up 228.8% in November 2019 over November 2018, giving them a 3% share of all total new registrations over the year — and that number doesn’t include plug-in electric vehicles, which were up 34.89% over the same period, giving them a 2.8% market share.

Of course, those numbers don’t distinguish between cars and vans and we can reasonably assume the bulk of registrations were cars. However, electric vans represent a growing proportion of sales and more businesses than ever are considering introducing electricity to their fleet as an alternative to petrol and diesel.

The UK government has pledged investment in Britain’s electric car charging network – with a vision that no electric vehicle (EV) owner should be more than 30 miles away from their nearest charge point. To learn more about electric vehicle charging, check out the electric vehicle charging map and guide.

The lure of electric

1. They are cheaper to run

Electric vans are significantly cheaper to ‘fill up’ than their petrol and diesel counterparts. You’ll pay £5 to £7 for a full charge with an electric van, versus £40 to £60 for a full tank of diesel. And nearly all of the time, a multiplication of electric range x charge cost = less than a full tank of diesel with the range it provides.

2. They are cheaper to tax

The Government has announced that in 2020/21, electric vans will have 0% Benefit in Kind company tax rates. This will increase nominally to 1% in 2012/22 and 2% in 2022/23. This is less than the company tax rate for petrol and diesel vans which emit more emissions. These typically sit in in a percentage rate of 20% to 32%.

3. They are more reliable

An electric van has far less mechanical components and moving parts than a van with a combustion engine, so there are a lot less things to go wrong. Of course, this depends on the van, but the batteries typically have a 10-year warranty and the only serviceable parts are the tyres and brakes.

4. They are safer and easier to drive

Electric vans have only two gears (forward, reverse) and often come equipped with advanced safety features like blind spot detection. Electric motors deliver instant torque for effortless progress with similar peak torque to a turbo-diesel, so they don’t compromise on load-lugging ability. They are also nearly silent.

5. There are incentives for adoption

There are various grants and schemes that encourage the adoption of electric vans. The most notable is the Plug-in Van Grant, which is worth up to 20% off the list price (up to a maximum of £8,000). The Workplace Charging Scheme also provides £500 towards the cost of each charging point installation at a place of business.

Driving an electric van

The current crop of electric vans offer a range of 80 to 160-miles on a full charge. If you cover less than this in a day and have a charger available, there’s no reason why an electric van couldn’t be a capable addition to your fleet.

It’s also important to consider how you use your van. Electric vans are in their element around town and in the city. Higher speeds decimate electric range. A bigger battery makes this less of an issue, but it’s still something to consider.

Driving an electric van is a unique experience. The vehicle starts silently and pulls away silently, making a subtle whine when you use the throttle. There’s no vibration into the cabin, which enhances the road and wind noise you can hear, but this is a small price to pay for clean motoring and the instant power and torque.

Electric van range

It’s really important when you compare electric vans that you ignore any range figures provided from NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) data. This test process has been replaced by the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) because the NEDC tests were inaccurate and easily manipulated by manufacturers.

Claimed range and real-world range are two very different things, but the WLTP test has closed the gap to give claimed figures which are closer to the real thing.

Most electric vans today have a combined WLTP range of between 80 and 160 miles, with this determined by the battery size.

A ‘combined’ cycle is a mix of motorway and city driving, but electric vehicles also have a ‘city’ cycle which is perhaps more important. This cycle always returns higher figures than the combined range, often by as much as 30 to 40%. This goes back to our point about EVs being in their element around town and in the city.

The best new and upcoming electric vans

Volkswagen e-Transporter (2020)

VW’s upcoming e-Transporter will be offered with a standard 37.5kWh battery or a 74.6kWh battery which will give it a range of up to 250-miles. Little else is known about it until VW announce the specs, but it’s expected to be a class-leader.

Nissan e-NV200 (out now)

The Nissan e-NV200 has a combined WLTP range of 124-miles and a city WLTP range of 187-miles. The battery is under the cargo floor and doesn’t eat into load space, giving you a load volume of 4.2m3 and a 705kg payload capacity.

Mercedes eSprinter (2020)

This upcoming van will go on sale in 2020 with a 10.5m3 load area and an electric range of 71 to 93-miles on a single charge under WLTP conditions, which should be more than enough for delivery drivers to do a day’s work on a single charge.

Mercedes eVito (2020)

The Mercedes eVito will use the same battery technology as the eSprinter but in a smaller package, boosting the electric range to over 93-miles. The load volume will range from 6 to 6.6m3 with a payload capacity in excess of 600kg.

Renault Master Z.E. (out now)

The Renault Master Z.E. has a 75-mile WLTP combined range and is available with a short, medium or long wheelbase offering 8m3 to 13m3 load volumes and a payload capacity of 975kg to 1,128kg depending on the version.

Renault Kangoo Z.E. (out now)

The Kangoo Z.E. is powered by a new 33kWh battery which offers an incredible 143-mile WLTP city range and a 124-mile combined range. The load volume is 4m3 or 4.6m3 with a pivoting partition and the payload capacity is 650kg.

Want to know more?

Speak with our experts to find out more about electric vans. Call us on 0333 050 8419 or send us a message.

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