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 van

VW Transporter electric

Of the more than four million vans on the UK's roads currently, most of the are fuelled by diesel. This is not without good reason. Diesel engines are both efficient and powerful, making them well suited to dealing with heavy payloads while delivering relatively low running costs.

However, there's a bevy of new electric vans either on sale already or coming to market very soon, and they promise many benefits compared to traditional diesel commercial vehicles. So if you're currently looking to buy a new van and want to keep your running costs to a minimum, electric power is definitely worth investigating.

What are the main benefits of going electric?

The biggest benefit is the potential cost savings. Electric vans work out much cheaper to run than their diesel counterparts – often half as much or better on a pence-per-mile basis.

If you use your van predominantly in cities and don't regularly cover long distances, it should prove very cost-effective. As well as being cheap to 'fuel', electric vans are also exempt from the London Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charge. Another benefit of electric vans is they don’t pay vehicle excise duty (VED). Compared to a current diesel van, this will save you thousands in the long run.

It’s worth thinking about where you'll charge your electric van. It's 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 hold an advantage?

A diesel van will be cheaper to buy than an electric one, and will also be a better bet if you or your drivers cover long distances on a daily basis. The current range of electric vans generally have 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 a better choice.

Diesel vans also generally have a slightly higher maximum payload than their electric counterparts. This is because the lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles weigh more than a conventional engine and fuel tank.