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Thu, 20/06/2019

Climate change has become a central concern of today’s society, with much of its adverse effects attributed to our excessive production of pollution. Emissions released by vehicles are a major part of these pollutants, with particular emphasis on those that run on diesel.

It’s not surprising therefore that car manufacturers have turned their attention to developments of electric technology. The combination of greater restrictions on petrol and diesel vehicles as seen in London’s new ultra-low emission zone and with restrictions bans on these vehicle types, many more people are turning to the power of electricity to travel.

But we have a long way to go until electric vehicles are the most common type that we see on our roads, as the technology is yet to be perfected. This brings into question whether electric vehicles are a feasible option for those who use vans, and whether businesses can rely on them. In this article, we will explore the practicality of electric vans for those who are considering transitioning to zero emission transport before the Government introduces legislation to restrict the use of certain types of vehicles e.g. diesel vehicles.

The cost of an electric van
The price of any vehicle is often one of the most important considerations for anyone who is in the market to buy. When electric vehicles were first introduced into the market, they were a rarity and the technology was therefore expensive, thus electric vehicles came with an expensive price tag. However, with the increase in electric cars and with many manufacturers campaigning to promote electric vans, it has not taken long for van production to catch up. This has made their brand-new price much more competitive with their petrol and diesel counterparts. In addition, buyers can also take advantage of a Government grant, which will help subsidise 20% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of £8,000.

Running costs
The second most important consideration for a business is how much does an electric van cost to run. In this area, electric vans undoubtably have an advantage. Petrol and diesel van drivers are at the mercy of fluctuating fuel prices, which can result in a hefty overhead if the van is used daily.

By relying solely on electricity to drive your van, your fuel expenses relate to how much electricity it takes to fully charge the battery. It is estimated that the cost to charge an electric van overnight is about £1.50 from flat to fully charged.

It is clear, therefore, that the running costs of an electric van are a significant alternative to diesel. This comes in addition to the electric model having fewer moving parts – there is no engine, which could ultimately reduce maintenance costs.

How far can an electric van travel? 
Running costs alone count for less if the van is limited to the distance it can travel. The fuel consumption of a diesel van can be monitored by the driver, knowing how far a full tank will take them.

The distance an electric van can travel is a little trickier to pinpoint. Many manufacturers claim that electric vans can travel approximately 100 miles on a full charge, but the distance is affected by a variety of factors: the cold, a heavy payload or a greater reliance on air-conditioning.

Of course, these are similar considerations that need to be made for a diesel van, but it is much easier to stop at a petrol station and fill up the tank rather than searching for a charging point to charge the battery.

This realistically limits the range of the electric van to shorter distances, making them perfect for urban areas, but not best suited for long-distance travel. If longer distances are necessity, it will be necessary to organise when and where you can recharge the van.

Charging the van
Although the running costs are less, it will take time to fully charge the van regularly in a suitable place with a charging point. As it is typically most convenient to charge overnight, this will usually be on the street or in a garage; essentially close to your home in order to access the electricity supply.

Plugging the charger into a normal mains socket will result in an extensive charging time, but if a wall box is installed, this will significantly reduce. Typically, a full charge from empty to full takes around 8 hours. Some workplaces may have charging points for electric cars, although this is not yet widespread, but manufacturers are in the process of installing fast charging sites as another point to fuel your electric van.

The advantages of owning an electric van
Overall, the primary benefits of an electric van are that they do not produce any NOx or CO2 emissions, resulting in an environmentally cleaner way to travel.

A reliance on electricity ensures a significant reduction in running costs, and if you have a registered company you may be able to write some of your household energy bills accumulated from charging against VAT – the energy used to charge your van is therefore a legitimate business cost.

Electric vans are a fantastic choice for businesses servicing a specific local area, and the purchase of one will help avoid the added cost of having to change to electric power quickly when Government restrictions come into force. For example, this includes a discount on the London congestion charge and with no emissions, you are exempt from Vehicle Excess Duty.

The major downside to having an electric van is having a place to charge the vehicle and remembering to plan your journeys knowing that you will be able to access a suitable charging point to complete your journey.

Whether or not you decide to opt for an electric van, the vehicle will need to be insured. In order to find the most competitive price for your policy, the Be Wiser website is the best place to start.