Electric vans – should you buy one?

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Electric vehicles are growing in popularity in the UK and with an ever-increasing focus on emissions, and diesel engines under the spotlight, their popularity is only going in one direction.


Now however, they account for just a tiny portion of van sales and remain something of an unknown for van drivers.

Their benefits are well known but how many of us have driven one? And how many of us have ever seriously contemplated buying one?

Our guide explains everything you need to know about electric vans, including how they compare to diesel models and what some of the best electric vans on the market have to offer.

What are the benefits of an electric van?

    1. They’re environmentally friendly
    Diesel and petrol-powered vans spit out harmful emissions – including Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NOx) – electric vans don’t.

    2. They’ve got government-backing
    Because they’re environmentally friendly, electric vans have effectively been endorsed by government, as it looks to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint, particularly in major cities. As a result, electric vans are exempt from London’s congestion charge.

    3. They’re incentivised
    UK motorists can take advantage of the Plug-in van grant. The grant provides a discount of up to 20 per cent (or a maximum of £8,000) on the cost of your new electric van. On top of that, there’s no road tax cost for electric vehicles.

    4. They’re cheap to run
    Electricity to charge your vehicle isn’t free, so if you’re charging from home you’ll have to pay for the electricity you use, but compared to the price of diesel and petrol, electric vans are significantly cheaper. Charging at some public charge points is free, while at others it can cost as little as £1.50 per hour. With diesel costing around £1.23 and petrol around £1.19, there’s no competition.

    5. They’re cheaper to maintain
    As well as being cheaper to charge and drive per mile, electric vans are also cheaper to maintain. Electric engines are also less prone to wear and tear, too.

    6. They’re quiet
    Electric vehicles are quiet. When compared to a diesel van on a cold weekday morning, they’re virtually silent.

As well as the advantages above, if you’re a business owner and you buy a zero-emission electric van, there are capital allowance benefits you can claim, too.

What are the downsides of electric vans?

While that list of advantages is compelling, the fact that electric vans aren’t a more common sight on UK roads is because there are still some downsides to electric van ownership. We’ve outlined some of the major ones, here:

    1. Cost

  • Electric vans are cheaper to run than diesel or petrol vans but they’re generally more expensive to buy – even with the plug-in van grant. And when it comes to buying a new van, particularly for businesses, cost is usually the most important factor. Find out how much a van costs to buy.

    2. Range

    Range is one of the most well-known barriers for electric vans. While the likes of the Renault Kangoo ZE has a range of 170 miles on a full charge, that’s nowhere near as far as a full tank of diesel will get you. That’s an issue that lots of drivers find difficult to look past.

    3. Range variance

    Electric vans also have an issue with range variance. Just like with miles per gallon (MPG) on petrol and diesel vans, electric vans have an official range. In reality, the range that van can achieve on a full charge is likely to be much lower, especially if you have your heater on!

    4. Charge time

    While it takes a few minutes to fill up your tank with fuel, fully charging an electric van can take hours. This has been combatted by rapid chargers but they still take around 40 minutes to get your battery up to an 80 per cent charge.

    5. Infrastructure

    There are charge points up and down which are generally run by energy firms. These charge points usually require electric van drivers to register to allow them to access the charging point, which is more hassle than pulling up to a fuel pump and filling your tank straight away.

    6. Weight and efficiency

    Electric vehicles and their technology are heavy. That means electric vans can sometimes struggle to match their petrol and diesel competitors in terms of payload, especially among large vans.

    7. Efficiency again

    Using your heater, aircon or other electrical systems within your electric van will impact your range.

    8. Battery lifespan

    In a tale familiar to iPhone users out there, an electric van battery will lose its performance over time. This is combatted by extended battery warranties however it’s another inconvenience on the list.


Is an electric van right for me?

If you’re weighing up an electric van, it’s important to think carefully about how you’re going to use it and whether the pros and cons of ownership would impact you.

For example, range is an obvious weak point for electric vans but if you only drive short distances, would range ever really be an issue?

5 Electric vans you can buy now

Electric vans, unlike electric cars, are still relatively new in the UK, which means there’s not a lot of competition and choice in the market.

We’ve found five electric vans you can buy now, outlining their price and ordered by range.

1. Nissan e-NV200
Price: from £18,599
Range: Maximum of 188 miles with city driving
The Nissan NV200 is one of the Japanese manufacturer’s most popular vans.

2. Iveco Daily Electric
Price: Around £60,000 for basic versions
Range: Extended range of 174 miles

3. Renault Kangoo Z.E. 33
Price: £18,694
Range: Maximum of 170 miles with city driving

4. Citroen Berlingo Electric
Price: Around £15,617
Range: A maximum of 106 miles on a full charge

5. Peugeot Partner Electric
Price: Starting from £15,081
Range: A maximum of 106 miles on a full charge

And two electric vans coming soon:

Peugeot Partner Tepee Electric
Price: Not currently listed
Range: A maximum of 106 miles

Mercedes-Benz eVito

Price: Around £35,000
Range: 93 miles