Time to accelerate the switch to electric vans

Time to accelerate the switch to electric vans

Posted by

David Blackmore

March 2022

Time to get on the gas (metaphorically speaking of course). Actually, it’s more a case of stepping off the gas and plugging into the charger, but…

With the Government extending the Plug-in Van Grant for two years beyond the ending of the Plug-in Car Grant end FY22/23, now really is the moment to seize the opportunity to electrify commercial van fleets.

The Government has put money on the table to assist electrification and has also provided a timeframe. It’s the certainty all fleet managers need.

The current grant offers up to 35% of the purchase price for small vans below 2.5kg GVW, capped at £2,500, while larger vans between 2.5kg and 3.5kg GVW receive 35% of the purchase price, with a maximum amount of £5,000. From the beginning of April this year, vans up to 4.25 tonnes will be able to claim the large van grant of up to £5,000, as well.

The latter point is important. Car licence holders can drive an electric van up to 4.25 tonnes on an existing licence – it’s capped at 3.5 tonnes for diesel vans. That’s because electric vans have a higher kerb weight than diesel counterparts and this could constrain vehicle capacity. The Government is very keen to electrify this sector not only to bring down emissions, but also to increase security of supply without worrying about escalating fuel prices.

Not only that, but the demand for last mile delivery has increased hugely, stimulated in part by the Covid pandemic, but also the ease and convenience it provides to consumers. Delivering goods in urban areas with zero emissions – from local baker to national grocer – is not only increasingly desirable from an environmental point of view, it is also increasingly critical to curtailing urban pollution.

In our experience there are three main considerations when considering van electrification. These are cost, range and charging options.

And the cost element is what the Government is assisting your fleet with – the grant will bring down the monthly rental of the lease, while the overall cost of operation is considerably lower than a diesel van. The fuel element is the obvious saving in the total cost of ownership picture; less seldom appreciated is the reduced level of SMR maintenance required which also means reduced operational downtime. Both are important factors in any van fleet operation.

The other two considerations – range and charging options – are being addressed with the growing number of electric vans available on the market along with a variety of battery ranges, while infrastructure is improving month by month (although it could always be improved, of course).

Changing to an electric van fleet is daunting. There is a lot to consider. But we are experts in the field with real experience of assisting fleets to make the change. A typical example is The Pinnacle Group, which has begun to decarbonise its 500 diesel van fleet, starting with over 30 Nissan e-NV200s.

Another is The Conservation Volunteers, a charity which has started its electrification journey with four Citroen e-Dispatch models.

Both organisations are taking a staged approach to their fleet electrification to ensure there is no compromise in operational efficiency. It also allows them to incorporate learnings from stage one before switching more of the fleet to electric vans.

But the important part here is that they have both started. And with a two year window of Government assistance, so should your fleet.

The Plug-In Van Grant – what you need to know

Small vans

The grant is for commercial vehicles up to 2.5kg GVW, representing 35% of the purchase price up to a maximum of £2,500. To qualify vans must have emissions below 50g/km and have the capacity to travel 60 miles in zero emission mode..

Large vans

The grant is for commercial vehicles between 2.5kg and 3.5kg GVW, providing 35% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of £5,000. To qualify, vans must have emissions below 50g/km and have the capacity to travel 60 miles in zero emission mode.

From 01 April 2022, vans up to 4.25 tonnes will be able to claim the large van grant of up to £5,000.


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