Are electric vans cheaper to run?
Understandably, electric vans are cheaper to run than fuel-fed alternatives - the cost per mile is considerably lower.
For instance, the Citroen Berlingo Electric costs 2-3p per mile to run on average - that's less than £2 per 40 miles. Comparing that to the cost of 40 miles of fuel makes the decision to switch a no-brainer.
With electric vans, maintenance costs are also reduced. Notably, there's fewer moving parts inside EVs - there's no pistons pumping up and down, no oil to change and no clutch in the gearbox to wear out. Due to the electric van's braking effectiveness, you'll even find your brake pads and discs lasting longer too!
What incentives are available for those who choose to switch?
The Government has various schemes in place to encourage the sale of electric vehicles over none-electric; their current plug-in vehicle grant applies to vans as well as cars. The plug-in grant applies at the time of purchase and is given as a discount off the purchase price of the van.
From 18 March 2021 the government will provide grants of up to £3,000 for small vans (less than 2,500 kg gross vehicle weight) and up to £6,000 for large vans (between 2,500 kg and 3,500 kg gross vehicle weight). The vehicle must also have an electric range of at least 70 miles.
With an electric commercial vehicle, you can also expect reduced tax burdens for both business and private use. In addition, there's even grants available to put towards the cost of purchasing and installing workplace chargers.
Other incentives include benefitting from free parking in some areas, exemption from London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charge and even free EV charging at some public parking destinations.
What about the added weight of a battery to my van?
Whilst the additional weight that comes with housing an electric battery isn't really an issue for smaller vans, it's more of a potential problem for larger vans. Because they're heavier, some of the larger electric vans out there do come with a lower range, which could be impacted further if the van is fully loaded.
In terms of overall van weight, the legal maximum gross vehicle weight (GVW) for a standard UK driving licence is 3.5 tonnes, with many large vans already using every kilogram of this allowance.
Since the basic weight of battery-powered electric vehicles is typically more than that of a vehicle powered by a diesel engine, this leaves less capacity for payload and reduces the amount of stuff you can legally carry with that 3.5 tonne limit.
Thankfully, the Government has countered this by allowing standard car licence holders to drive electric vans weighing up to 4.25 tonnes, a process that has been labelled the 'alternative fuel payload derogation'. This extra weight allowance compensates for the extra heft of the electric technology, so all-in-all an electric van will still be able to match a diesel equivalent for carrying ability.
Our prediction is that manufacturers will use the updated weight allowance to increase the number of batteries on board their electric commercial vehicles, therefore increasing their mile range too!
Will I have enough range for day-to-day work?
Most electric sceptics would cite range as being their main concern - running out of juice whilst on the job would be less than ideal!
Although it's true you won't get as far on a full charge as you would with a full tank, most ranges available with modern electric vans far surpasses the miles covered in the average working day. If your van does cover more ground than most, you will need to consider plugging it in at some point.
Thankfully, manufacturers are listening to driver's concerns and have worked hard to develop new technology to increase this. For instance, Nissan's reliable and hardworking e-NV200 delivers an impressive range of up to 174 miles, making it the ideal option if your business sees long distance journeys regularly.
We also can't forget to mention the growing number of rapid public chargers. Need to add a quick 30 miles to your battery? No problem. Take a quick coffee break whilst plugged into a rapid charger, and you'll be on your way in no time.
What's electric van performance like?
Many say that electric vans are much simpler and more enjoyable to drive, which bodes well when it becomes your office.
When it comes down to it, you press the accelerator to go and you brake (or simply lift off) to stop. There's no changing gear and you'll find they're incredibly nippy around town because electric motors deliver instant torque.
For those that want something completely confident on the road, the Ford e-Transit offers a maximum power option of 198kW, equivalent to a staggering 269hp. This delivers about 430Nm of torque, delivering an entirely impressive performance.
All-in-all, you can expect a smooth and relaxing drive in any electric van; apart from a distant hum of power, electric motors are virtually silent.