Pros and Cons of electric vans

March 4, 2022

Whether you’re a Commercial Vehicle Fleet Manager, a self-employed tradesperson or an Amazon delivery driver, choosing the best electric van for you and your business is no longer as straightforward as it once was.

Electric vehicle charging point

Historically, the most popular and obvious choice for multiple van fleets or self-employed van drivers has of course always been a diesel fuelled van. For many years diesel vans have always offered the ultimate in fuel economy enjoying many more miles per gallon (mpg) than their petrol counterparts. 

However, the looming fossil fuel vehicle ban, environmental worries, new Clean Air Zones (CAZ), expensive fuel prices and road tax increases, are compelling many diesel guzzling van drivers and Fleet Managers to go electric.

To further incentivise traditional vehicle drivers, the government continues to offer various grants and schemes to make switching more affordable and accessible.

However, despite all these incentives, many van drivers are, understandably, still wary about going electric. The biggest bugbears being the initial electric van cost and the prospect of running out of electricity on a long range journey with no nearby electric charging points.

To help you decide if now is the right time for you or your business to go green, here’s a roundup of an electric van’s key advantages and disadvantages.

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Advantages of electric vans

1. Cheaper running costs

EVs are by far much cheaper to run than their diesel counterparts.

According to Citroen, the cost per mile for a pure electric Citroen Berlingo is only 2 to 3p per mile - that’s £2 per 40 miles!

With record-breaking rising fuel costs, you should calculate how much you could save by driving a pure EV compared to what you’d spend on diesel for the same amount of miles.

In addition to massive fuel savings, you can save hundreds of pounds on van road tax - pure electric, zero-emission vans are completely road tax exempt (free) - and recent studies have revealed that EV insurance is cheaper too.

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2. Lower maintenance costs

There are very few moving mechanical parts in EVs and brake usage is much lighter making maintenance costs cheaper than a traditional vehicle’s.

3. Cheaper city driving

If you have to drive through London’s Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) and/or Congestion Charging Zones in a fossil-fuelled vehicle, you’re no doubt feeling the pinch.

As mentioned above, new Clean Air Zones are now popping up in other cities around the UK so driving a purely electric vehicle can save you a lot of pollution fees if you regularly drive through one of these highly polluted penalty zones.

4. Incentivising grants and schemes

The UK government continues to offer electric vehicle grants and schemes for individuals and businesses alike. Check out our blog for more details about the various grants and schemes currently on offer.

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5. Brand image

Driving around in a purely electric vehicle or having an entire fleet of electric vehicles will speak volumes to your customers and gives the impression you're a successful business that cares about the environment.

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6. Future proofing your business

If you’re proactive and fully embrace a greener future by swapping to an EV now, you can help future-proof your business from potential threats and shocks it could suffer in this ever-changing and evolving modern world.

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7. Attract top talent

For reputable companies who want job applications from the best workers, providing electric vehicles for your employees to drive can help you attract and retain top talent in your industry.

8. Quiet, easy and enjoyable to drive

No gears, no noise, with all the trappings of modern technology and comforts - what’s not to love?

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Disadvantages of electric vans

1. Range restrictions

Range anxiety is common amongst would-be EV buyers and drivers. However, it’s estimated that around one third of vans only cover a maximum of 80 miles a day, which is within most if not all commercial vehicle ranges.

A VW transporter electric range of 82 miles would be sufficient for many local van drivers who can simply plug their VW Transporter in to charge overnight when they get home.

However, don’t let this limited range of 82 miles put you off as there are many vans with much longer ranges you can choose from. 

For example, a good choice for, say, a multi-city travelling courier could be to lease a six-door Citroen e-Dispatch with a maximum electric range of 267 miles - that’s a lot of delivery miles!

However, if you or your colleagues regularly travel the length and breadth of Britain, for optimum range and back up you might want to look at hybrid commercial vans for now.

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2. Lack of charging points

This of course fits into the arena of ‘range anxiety’ and many commercial vehicle drivers will consider there perhaps aren’t enough charging points in the UK to ensure they can top up when they need to.

But, there are more charging points than you might realise. If you don’t believe us, take a look at zap-map.com

However, there are still nowhere near as many charging points as there are fueling stations and so many savvy EV drivers are now using portable chargers as back up.

3. Time spent charging

Charging a vehicle at home can take several hours - not problem if you do so, religiously, overnight and every night. However, if you’re caught short and in a rush, you cannot rely on finding a nearby charger as easily as a fuel station, especially in rural areas.

There are rapid charging points on most major UK motorways that can fully charge most vehicles within 40 minutes but again, it’s a good idea to have a portable back-up charger with you just in case you get low on electricity in a rural area or where no rapid charging is available.

Above all else, planning and organisation are key to getting the best experience from driving an EV.

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4. Initial cost

Electric van prices UK can still be out of reach for many pockets.

For example, if you want to buy one of the best electric vans on the market, an electric Sprinter van price starts from £51,950.  However, to get around this gargantuan expense, a more affordable option could be to lease a Mercedes eSprinter for £669.82 plus VAT per month.

If you're considering a fleet of electric commercial vehicles or a single lease for your own business use, Complete-Leasing.co.uk offer a wide range of competitive commercial van lease deals on many of the most popular makes and models of electric vans.

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Regarding additional costs such as charging point installation, as mentioned in our blog about Electric car grants and incentives, if you’re a van driver you can apply for a grant to help towards the cost of installing an electric vehicle charging point at home.

And, if you’re a Vehicle Fleet Manager, you can apply for The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) grant for financial help with installing multiple charging points for your van drivers.

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5. Payload limitations

Electric batteries are pretty heavy and if you tend to carry heavy loads, your range will be significantly reduced. So if you do carry heavy loads in your van, make sure you check an EV’s payload limitations before committing to a purchase or lease deal.

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6. Charger thefts

EV charger thefts are on the rise and are a hassle and expense most people could do without.

However, modern EVs tend to come with a cable security loop to thread your charger cable through (or you can put the cable through a wheel spoke) and then secure it with a padlock.

7. Van depreciation

Everyone knows that vehicle depreciation is costly and that a vehicle - whether traditional or an EV - literally sheds thousands of pounds in value the minute it rolls off the forecourt.

That’s why leasing an EV for your business is a great solution so you can drive a new or nearly new van without the worry of depreciation.

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8. Limited choices

There has been a slowdown in production of EVs, mainly due to a chip shortage, meaning there is currently less choice for buyers and longer waiting times for new models.

If you don’t want to wait and want more choice, why not consider leasing instead?

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