Electric vs diesel vans: which would be better for you?

Struggling to decide between going electric or sticking with diesel? You’re not alone. Read on to find out the pros and cons of each type

Of the four million plus vans on Britain’s roads today, the majority are diesel. And there’s a good reason for this. Diesel vans come with efficient, powerful engines that can deal with heavy payloads, relatively low running costs and can be refuelled in minutes.

However, electric vans offer many benefits over diesel vans. If you’re in the market for a new van and want to keep costs low, going electric might prove the right choice.

Benefits of going electric

The greatest benefit is the potential cost saving. Electric vans are far cheaper to run than their diesel counterparts. Take the Peugeot Partner as an example.

The Peugeot Partner Electric costs £3.80 to fully charge. This gives you about 85-miles of real world range, with at a cost of 4.5 pence per mile. With a 53-litre fuel tank, and an official economy figure of 68mpg a diesel Partner has a theoretical range of 780 miles. At current diesel prices, that works out at 9 pence per mile – double what the electric Partner costs to run.

If you use your vans predominantly in the cities where they don’t cover large distances an electric van will prove cost efficient. They are also exempt from the London Congestion Charge, Ultra Low Emissions Zone and the T-Charge.

Another benefit of electric vans is they don’t pay vehicle excise duty. Compared to a current diesel van, this will save you thousands in the long run. All new, non-electric, vehicles face a flat £140 tax a year after the first year rates.

It’s worth thinking about where you will charge your electric van. It will be important to be able to charge it overnight – either at home or at a depot. Installing a dedicated charging point will help ensure the van has a full charge every morning.

Where do diesel vans make better sense?

A diesel van will be cheaper to buy than an electric one, the Peugeot Partner Electric mentioned above will cost around £5000 more than its diesel equivalent.

A diesel van will be the better bet if you or your drivers cover long distances on a daily basis. The current fleet of electric vans come with a real world range of around 100 miles. If you or your drivers will be covering hundreds of miles a day, a diesel van may be the better choice.

Even with rapid DC charging, vans would have to be stopped for half-an hour or more for a recharge.

Diesel vans also generally come with a higher payload than their electric counterparts. This is because the lithium-ion batteries on board electric vehicles weight more. The Renault Master Z.E, for example, comes with a payload of 1,100kg, but its diesel counterpart can carry over 1,500kg of equipment.