Electric vans, the right move for transporters?

The trend of vehicles is headed towards electricity.  One day the petrol or diesel engine will be considered luxury items. However, today the engine still rules and is still the obvious choice. But what about the electric vans of today? Are they the better option for transporting? Here are the simple pros and cons to help you choice.


Buying costs and incentives

Money to saveAn Electric van is still a more expensive choice compared to an engine-based van.  However it can be better financially then you think. The Government offer a plug-in grant of 20% of the ticket price (Up to £8000). You also get reduced tax and sometimes even a grant towards a workplace charging station to help with keeping your van charged.

It’s not just the government who offer incentives. Local authorities’ offer free parking, exemption from the London congestion charge, even free charging for electric vans. The main financial boost though is simply the running cost. Currently charging a van to full is cheaper than fuelling up per-mile. The maintenance is also lower. An engine is a very complicated device, whereas electric vehicles are much simpler. With fewer things to break you’ll spend less on repairs.


The issues with electric vans

A Ford Focus electric car at the Geneva Auto Show

The tech is amazing but it does take a while to charge

The main problem with electric vehicles is well known, they have a range issue. It’s better than when they first came on the scene and is improving all the time. However it’s still not as far as a full tank of fuel can go. The bigger the van the lower the range too, why? They have more weight to shift, all those batteries are heavy. The other issue with range is charging them back up to full can take a while. With a proper charging point it can take about an hour, a normal house plug however could take an entire day. The other problem is that the infrastructure is still not quite there. There are much fewer charging points than the faster to use petrol pumps.


The Environmental question

Normal or Electric vansAre vans better for the environment? Short answer, yes, they produce no emissions as they drive around. Another bonus to this is a positive image to your company as forward thinking and emotionally conscious. However the power has to come from somewhere. Usually the power comes from fossil fuel burning power stations. It’s balanced by the fact that it’s more efficient, plus there are eco-friendly methods to generate electricity.

The weight as well is a problem specifically for vans. The gross vehicle weight allowance is usually 3.5 tonnes. The more the van weighs the less you can carry. However this has been countered with the government raising the weight for electric vans to 4.25 tonnes.


The batteries have another problem; they put a shelf-life on the van. An engine with proper up-keep can work for decades. An electric van slowly gets worse as the batteries hold less and less charge. This is less harsh with extended warranties on the battery packs. However the issue you run into is resale. Electric vans lose value faster than diesel vans and they already lose value quickly.


When it comes to vans choosing electricity or engine power is a choice of preference. While there are many pros to choosing an electric van there are cons that sort of balance the choice out at this point in time. The price barrier to entry is high but the incentives are good. The other tech coming into vans are self-driving vehicles, you can read more on that here.

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