Electric van payloads explained
The main difference between a light goods vehicle, or a van, and a heavy goods vehicle is the gross vehicle weight, or the maximum authorised mass that is the maximum allowed weight to be allowed to drive safely on the road.
The current limit is 3,500kg, meaning the whole van, including what it’s carrying cannot exceed that weight. Otherwise it will be deemed unsafe to drive by the authorities and if caught on the road, you could be fined and face prosecution. To drive vehicles with a higher weight limit, drivers have to apply for a Category C driving licence.
Electric vans face a weight penalty over their diesel and petrol counterparts thanks to the lithium-ion batteries on board. Knowing your electric van's maximum payload will be important if you'll be using it for work or for making deliveries.
How much heavier are electric vans than normal vans?
This obviously varies between different makes and models. For example, the Nissan NV200 van comes with a 728kg payload – meaning it can carry up to 728kg of weight before its illegal.
In contrast, the all-electric e-NV200 van comes with a smaller, 705kg payload. The far larger Renault Master on the other hand comes with a maximum payload of 1,536kg, reducing to 1,100kg for the Z.E. all-electric version.
Plug-in hybrid vans – which feature a smaller battery than you'd find in an electric van – aren't affected as badly as they fewer cells weighing them down. For example, the new Ford Transit PHEV can carry up to 1,130kg, which isn't much less than the diesel Transit is capable of.
As a general rule though, these deficits mean that you won’t be able to carry as much equipment or supplies in an electric van as you will in a petrol or diesel model.
While petrol and diesel cars will suffer in terms of fuel economy when carrying the maximum payload, electric vans will suffer in terms of range. The e-NV200, for example, has a 106-mile real world range, but this will be reduced when carrying the maximum payload.
Will electric vans have a higher payloads in the future?
Last year, the Government began investigating if the maximum payload could be increased for all alternatively fuelled vans. The public consultation received overwhelming support, and the Government is now in the process of requesting a derogation from the European Commission to increase the Gross Vehicle Weight for electric vans to 4,250kg. This would help level the playing field between electric and normal vans.