Your questions answered

Would an electric van suit your business?

Think an electric van will boost your business? You may be right. Before taking the plunge, read on to make sure you know the crucial questions to ask

There are over four million vans, or light goods vehicles, on UK roads. They form an essential part of the UK economy, used by businesses of all sizes and kinds. Today, the majority of those four million vans are powered by diesel – but as emissions rules begin to shift, electrification is gaining traction.

Electric vans are slowly growing in popularity, with more makers introducing electric van models every year. Electric vans offer some key benefits over their engined counterparts, but before you make the jump to greener motoring, it’s important to think whether an electric van suits your business.

What to consider when thinking about buying an electric van

The first thing to think about is the kind of driving required from the van. Does your business regularly require drivers to do long drives on motorways, or are they mostly used in the city?

In general, electric vans are limited in their range – more so than electric cars. There are two very important reasons for this – load volume and payload. Batteries are heavy and take up space, so electric vans use smaller ones to try and balance range with practicality. The result is usually an electric  van that can travel no more than 100 to 150 miles or so, depending on size, meaning they make most sense for shorter journeys and local use.

The next thing to consider is the kind of equipment and payloads you will carry. Until recently, light-good vehicles were limited to a 3,500kg gross vehicle weight, or maximum authorised mass. This is the maximum load that can be carried on the road, including the car’s own weight.

Because electric vans are heavier than their petrol or diesel counterparts, the Government is now working towards introducing a higher maximum weight limit for electric vans of 4,250kg. It is seeking a derogation from the European Commission to change the maximum allowed weight.

However, when operating at maximum capacity, electric vans will suffer from reduced range. If you can, try and test drive the van with a full payload to see whether it's right for your business.

Finally, think about where you will be able to charge an electric van. Are the vehicles kept at home overnight, or at a depot? Will you have access to an electric charging station overnight? It makes little sense to have an electric van if it isn’t topped up in the morning ready for a day’s work.

Benefits of purchasing an electric van

There are several benefits of going electric. The first is lower running costs: even the most frugal diesel van cannot match the bang-for-buck offered by an electric van. A full charge in an electric van will cost a few pounds in electricity, a feat that no internal combustion van can compete with. 

While initial purchase costs are usually higher, electric vans have fewer moving parts and so should prove to be much cheaper to service and fix, further lowering a business' expenditure. 

You will also benefit from the Government’s plug-in vehicle grant, which pays 20% of the purchase price for qualifying vans up to a maximum of £8,000.

Electric vans also face no vehicle excise duty (VED), and are congestion charge exempt.


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