There’s talk that every van manufacturer is preparing to launch new electric models within the next 12-24 months, but in fact some are already here.
Electric commercial vehicles aren’t out of the blue. Remember the Milk floats, driven by electric motors and batteries slowly and silently creeping around your neighbourhood in the early hours. The very first ‘horseless carriages’ were electric and some of those you could call commercial vehicles, featuring the flat load areas suitable for moving products and produce etc.
Technology has moved on over the years, but until recently electric vans were very much the preserve of large fleet operators looking to make a token gesture towards cutting their carbon footprint. The early days of these modern electric vans their limited range between charges and the amount of time it took to top up the batteries meant a back-up diesel vehicle was often needed to compensate for the downtime in productivity of the electric one.
Nowadays the battery capacities are much larger, motors are more powerful, software and other systems like telematics can tell you where to charge and to really manage their routes. Results of this gives improved efficiency and a much wider audience for electric vans. Room capacity stays the same, because the batteries are stored under the floor. Therefore, no reduction in the amount of space electric vans offer over their petrol and diesel models.
Electric vans produce no CO2 or NOx emissions, so providing your energy comes from a renewable source they are the cleanest vehicles to drive and the best for the environment. Costing a lot less to run than their diesel alternatives, with savings of up to 80% in terms of the basic running costs. There are fewer moving parts on the Electric vans, which reduces maintenance costs. Regenerative braking (which recycles the energy that’s normally lost when you lift off the accelerator, with the side effect that the vehicle slows noticeable) they also tend to save on the wear to brake pads.
The biggest savings come from vehicle taxation (VED) being a zero cost. If you’re working in central London, they are also exempt from the Congestion Charge and in some boroughs electric vehicles even get free parking.You can also get free charging (unless you have to pay for the parking) but in many instances while out and about you can sign up to charging schemes which are reasonably good value. It’s not quite as cheap as charging at home, but it’s not like the premium you would pay at a motorway service station for filling up with diesel. Things that aren’t so good with electric vans, is the purchase price. The prices for the Electric vans are rather steep, but you can gain from the government Plug-In Van Grant which can take up to 20% off the price of the van (up to the value of £8000).
Once you own an electric van, you’ll have to think about charging it at your home or business. A regular three-pin power supply will do the job, but it will leave you waiting an extremely long time for the van to charge.Best to invest in a home charging station –known as a wall box. Rapid chargers in public places can provide as much as 80% charge in as little as 30 minutes for some types of vehicle, but with a home charger you should still be able to complete a full charge within six to eight hours. Again, they aren’t cheap, but grants are available to have them installed.
So, is the future of vans going to be electric? Probably, but it will take a bit of time to get there. In the meantime, if you are looking for a new van for your business, electric or otherwise, why not give us a call today to discuss your options.
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