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Are electric vans the future?

As a company we’re always looking for new ways to reduce our carbon emissions. Our biggest environmental impact is our fleet, which currently consists of 420 vans and 150 company cars (including our grey fleet). Although our average CO2 emissions for our vans is below industry average, as more cities introduce Clean Air Zones (including Leeds), and more companies becoming carbon neutral, it’s time to revisit our approach.

With 40,000 people dying prematurely from diesel pollution each year in the UK (according to the Royal College of Physicians) and the government currently reviewing the Clean Air Bill to set, measure, enforce and report on air quality targets, it’s crucial to stay ahead of the curve.

Is the answer introducing electric vans into our fleet?

There are a lot of sceptics who immediately discount electric vans, using price, range and weight restrictions as reasons for their unsuitability. But here’s some food for thought…

Price – over the whole life cost of a vehicle, we could make an average saving of £1,500 swapping vehicles such as Ford Transit Connect Diesel to Nissan e-NV200 based in London. We could also take advantage of the Plug-in Van Grant which offers 20% off the cost of a plug-in electric van, up to a maximum of £8,000. Grants for chargers are also available.

Range – electric vans such as Citroën Berlingo Electric and the Peugeot Partner Electric can do 106 miles on a single charge. There are also over 16,000 charging points throughout the UK and websites such as ZapMap to locate them.

Weight restrictions – possibly the biggest issue. As electric engines weigh significantly more than diesel engines, the payload on electric vans in often lower. Given this key issue, the government brought forward the proposal to increase weigh limits to 4,250kg for alternatively-fuelled vans only. This closed in October 2017 and the results will be announced soon.

Furthermore, some companies have resolved the weight issues by conducting studies into who and what is in each van, moving people into electric vans where possible.

At presents no one would argue 100% electric fleet is feasible, however replacing a number of small to medium weight vans, particularly on inner-city contracts such as Leeds and London would drastically reduce our emissions, support our Fit for Future strategy and deliver significant cost savings.

Anneka Gill, Bid Manager