Monday, 11 September 2017
Electric vans – advantages Let’s keep things simple, these are the major advantages: Eco-friendliness – electric vans produce no CO2 or NOx emissions as they drive around, meaning their widespread adoption has the potential to dramatically improve air quality, especially in urban areas. Running costs – typically e-vans are considerably cheaper to run than diesel alternatives. Not only is the cost per mile of ‘fuel’ lower, there are fewer moving parts and they are less hard of their brakes due, reducing maintenance costs. Buying incentives – also helping to lower running costs, these include government grants worth up to 20% off the list price (to a maximum of £8,000), plus reduced tax burdens for both business and private use. There are even grants towards the cost of workplace chargers available now. Other incentives – people driving electric vehicles are seen as brave souls, saving our planet, so local authorities like to encourage them. Such encouragement ranges from free parking in many areas, exemption from the London Congestion Charge, and even free charging in some places. Silent running – electric vans are much quieter than diesel vans, to the extent that they are virtually silent (aside from a hum you’ll only hear at low speeds). This makes life more pleasant for the driver, but also opens up a whole host of opportunities for unsocial hours services, where a conventional van might otherwise bring complaints. Easy-going performance – seems unlikely, but because electric motors deliver instant torque they get shifting smoothly and quickly. Outright response peters out at higher speeds, but around town they’re very nippy, especially as they universally ditch manual gearboxes for automatic. Convenience – seems unlikely, but electric vans do have some convenience features not often seen elsewhere, including the ability on many to set the air-conditioning to your preferred temperature while charging. This also avoids waiting around for the van to defrost in the morning. Image – want to give your business a squeaky-clean, socially conscious image? An electric van will certainly help… Hence high profile adoptees such as Harrods. Electric vans – disadvantages It isn’t all good news, of course. There are also some significant disadvantages to electric vans – which at the very least need careful consideration before purchase, to make sure an e-van will suit your needs: Range anxiety – this is the obvious big issue. While driving range is improving all the time, electric vans will not travel as far on a single charge as conventional vans will on a single tank of fuel. This not only means you will have to stop more often (and for longer; see below), it also makes them entirely impractical for long-distance use. Charging time – this varies, depending on the power of the charging system, but even in the best-case scenario it will take longer to recharge an e-van than to refuel a regular van. DC rapid chargers can give you an 80% charge in 30 minutes; a regular three-pin plug will likely need at least eight hours to completely fill the batteries. Charging convenience – not only does it take a long time to charge an electric van, you’ve got to find somewhere to do the charging, too. Certainly not as convenient as a filling a fuel station. Yet. Purchase cost – electro-mobility technology is still in its infancy, and is also made from individually expensive components (the very material that the batteries are built out of, for example), so it’s no wonder electric vans are so expensive. They are usually cheaper to run, though (see above). Weight – e-mobility tech is also heavy. The current crop of small electric vans are able to manage this through increased homologated gross vehicle weight (GVW), allowing them to retain the same level of payload capacity as non-electric equivalents. But as electrification moves into the large, 3.5-tonne van category, this will start to impact payload as there’s no GVW headroom to exploit, reducing vehicle efficiency. Range variance – like all vans, you need to take the efficiency of an electric van as quoted by the manufacturer with a pinch of salt. Most claim they will go 106 miles between charges, but the reality is that you’ll be lucky to see more than 80 or 90 miles in practice. To be fair to them, every electric van manufacturer acknowledges this. Perhaps more significant, therefore, is just how dramatically that range can be impacted by other factors, including not only payload weight and driving style but also the weather conditions. EVs do not like the cold! Batteries lose performance over time – an unavoidable reality of all electric vehicles is that there batteries deteriorate over time, meaning they gradually begin to hold less charge. This, however, is why most battery packs are covered by extended warranties (up to eight years in some cases), ensuring they see out the working life of the van.