Is it Time to Pivot Your Van Fleet to Electric?

Is it Time to Pivot Your Van Fleet to Electric?


With the news that BlackRock is investing £89m in UK electric vehicle manufacturing group Arrival, the case for converting to EV becomes more compelling by the day. What are the pros and cons of investing in electric? Is an electric van the right choice for you? We examine the options.

British electric start-up group Arrival has already developed a battery system for vans and buses, allowing it to build small production facilities close to its customers. Even before Blackrock’s investment, Arrival was valued at $3.3 billion and has an order for 10,000 UPS vans, with an option for another 10,000.

Meanwhile the BT Group has announced that they’re testing electric vans from LEVC (London Electric Vehicle Company) to become prototypes of their new VN5 model. The telecommunications company plans to use electric vehicles in as many roles and locations around the UK as possible, joining the likes of Royal Mail, DPD and Octopus Energy. Openreach says it will change a third of its 27,000 UK vehicles (vans and cars) to electric by 2025.

A Changing Dynamic Market

The electric car market is growing quickly year on year. The most recent statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) report more than 164,000 pure-electric cars on UK roads as of September 2020 - and more than 370,000 plug-in models including plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

With government and private investment, the UK network of electric vehicle charging points has increased from just a few hundred in 2011 to more than 12,000 charging locations, 19,700 charging devices and 34,400 connectors by October 2020.

Why Choose Electric?

The move to van electrification now seems inevitable. Certainly, for most large logistics and delivery companies the switch to EV has meant substantial savings on their fuel bills plus the advantage of being seen as good corporate citizens. If you are running a fleet is it time to pivot your conventional van operation to electric? We look at the pros and cons.

Pros -

Great for the environment: Diesel and petrol-powered vans spew out harmful emissions – including nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2). 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.

Cheap to run: Diesel fuel costs about £1.24 a litre and petrol around £1.20 a litre, so really there’s no competition. EV’s cost a lot less to run than diesel with savings of up to 80% in terms of the basic running costs. Charging at some public charge points is free, while at others it can cost as little as £1.50 per hour. And they’re cheap to maintain too, because electric engines are less prone to wear and tear than their conventional counterparts.

Government supported: Because they’re environmentally friendly, electric vans have been supported by the UK government, particularly in cities. Electric van owners don’t have to pay London’s congestion charge and similar charges in other cities around the country. UK motorists can also get the plug-in van grant which provides a discount of up to 20 percent on the cost of a new EV van. And there’s no UK road tax cost for EV’s either.

Cons - 

Costly to buy: Electric vans are currently 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.

Limited range is currently the most well-known obstacle for purchasing electric vans as a full tank of conventional fuel will take you longer and further than an electric vehicle currently does, although manufacturers are improving on this every year. 

Taking charge: Alongside the niggles of range, charging an electric van can take hours out of your day. Finding a charge point whilst on the road can be challenging too as they usually require EV drivers to register to allow them to access the charging point. Electric vans and their batteries are usually heavy which means you might have to sacrifice the size of the delivery payload to gain efficiency. And like all batteries they will lose their performance over time. 

Getting EV Motor Trade Insurance

As an EV requires specialist parts, sourcing and repairing can currently be costly and may increase your motor trade insurance premiums. However, this is somewhat being offset against electric vans being less prone to wear and tear and an increasingly competitive electric van market.

Other news

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With the Brexit transition period deadline of December 31st looming and still no firm decisions on travel and customs arrangements with the rest of the EU.