Buying an electric van: what you need to know

Fully electric or plug-in hybrid vans produce much fewer carbon emissions and have much lower running costs than petrol or diesel vans.

While they are slightly more expensive to buy, government grants can help with upfront costs. Tax exemptions and other discounts are available.

Types of electric van

There is a growing range of electric vans on the market. Whether you require a small van for last-mile deliveries or a large van for heavy cargo, most needs are covered.

Battery electric vans (BEV’s) run entirely on battery power. They have lower running costs, produce less emissions and qualify for more discounts.

Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and extended range (E-REV) models can switch to fuel, making them more adaptable.

All models require a charging point to recharge batteries.

How far you can drive on one charge

The general distance (range) covered by electric vans on a single battery charge is:

  • 50 miles for plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models
  • 100 to 300 miles for battery electric (BEV) models
  • 150 to 300 miles for extended range (E-REV) models

Driving range can be reduced if you carry heavy cargo, or use air conditioning or heating whilst driving.

Price

Electric vans cost a little more than diesel or petrol vans. Prices begin at:

  • £20,000 for a compact van
  • £35,000 for a medium-sized van
  • £50,000 for a large van

The government’s plug-in van grant gives buyers up to 35% off selected electric vans. Find a full list of vans included in the scheme on the government’s website.

You can compare prices and quality on the Go Ultra Low website.

Running costs

Electric vans are cheaper to run and maintain than petrol or diesel vans. The average cost to drive 100 miles is:

  • £4 to £6 for a BEV on home charge
  • £8 to £10 for a BEV on public charge
  • £13 to £16 for petrol or diesel

Other benefits include exemption from:

Where to charge

There are thousands of charge points (‘EV chargers’) across the UK. They are found at locations such as car parks or service stations. Some are free to use. Others require payment or membership cards. The main types are:

  1. Rapid (43kW) (full charge can take as little as an hour)
  2. Fast (7 to 22kW) (full charge can take as little as 2 hours)
  3. Slow (3 to 6kW) (full charge can take up to 13 hours)

Charging at home or work

You can install EV chargers at your home or workplace if you have off-street parking space and access to electricity. This is convenient for businesses as vehicles can charge overnight or during the work day.

Most homes and workplaces can support a basic charger without electrical upgrades. The government’s grant scheme covers up to £350 per charging point if you own, lease or have an EV on order.

Contact an authorised installer to find out how to get a charger installed. Your installer will assess your current power supply and whether you need to upgrade.

How much weight you can carry

The government has increased the maximum weight an electric van can carry from 3,500kg to 4,250kg. This is to allow for the extra weight caused by its battery.

The new maximum weight includes category B licence holders.

How much you can tow

Electric vans can pull a trailer weighing up to 750kg. Overall your total MAM (Maximum Allowable Mass) should not exceed 4,250kg.

Where to rent or lease

You can lease an electric van for about the same amount per month as a similarly priced petrol or diesel van. Firms which provide a wide range of leasing options include:

Insurance

All electric vans must be insured. The cost can be 20% higher than for a petrol or diesel car, though rates are steadily falling. Compare rates at:

What’s coming next

As part of the UK’s net zero strategy, more low emissions zones will be introduced in cities throughout 2021. The sale of all new petrol or diesel cars will end in 2030. This means manufacturers are producing more hybrid and electric vans every year.

Battery range and charging efficiency are expected to increase over time.

Find out more about electric vehicles (EVs) for business.