Best electric vans 2022

Electric vans are coming of age. Generous buying incentives, attractive tax advantages and low running costs have started to entice customers.

The increasing number of well-equipped models is also helping. Gone are the days when the only available vans were basic, rattling boxes that pumped out diesel fumes. But are they right for you? Let’s take a look.

An orange Vauxhall Vivaro-E being charged by its driver

Here we take a look at this fiercely competitive marketplace, examine the pros and cons of electric van ownership, and reveal which ones might be most suitable.

 

Growing popularity of electric vans

It’s important to acknowledge that electric vans are still in the minority. 

They accounted for a relatively tiny 3.59% of overall new van registrations in 2021, according to The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Even though the number of new electric vans sold last year soared by 142.3%, this only equated to a modest 12,759 out of 355,380.

However, this year looks promising. 

Diesel was the dominant fuel type for commercial vehicles in January 2022 with a 94.3% market share. But demand for battery-powered vans grew 21.4% with 647 registered.

Mike Hawes, SMMT’s chief executive, believes roughly one in 16 new vans will be fully electric this year.:

“Electric van uptake is predicted to climb significantly this year as a result of key new model launches, by 81.3% to 23,130 units. This would represent 6.4% of the market, compared with 3.6% or 12,759 units in 2021,” Their importance is also expected to grow rapidly as internal combustion versions are gradually phased out to meet tough environmental targets.

In November 2020, the UK government committed to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. All new cars and vans should be fully zero emission at the tailpipe by 2035.

 

What are the pros and cons of electric van?

Pros

  • Cheaper running costs
  • Eco-friendly
  • Quieter ride
  • Grants available to reduce initial cost

Cons

  • High initial cost
  • Range issues
  • Reduced payload limits
  • Van insurance potentially more expensive

 

What are the advantages of electric vans?

Van manufacturers have been quick to recognise the longer-term demand for electric vehicles. It means a string of household name manufacturers are already in this market.

Peugeot, Nissan, Renault, Citroen and Iveco are among the leading contenders – and industry observers expect competition to increase rapidly.

According to Dan Powell, senior editor at heycar this is helping the tide turn in favour of electric:

“For years, diesel has been the default choice for van buyers but the latest range of electric commercial vehicles are starting to change that – and for good reason,”.

“One of the most significant is the choice. There are lots of excellent new and used electric vans for sale. The Vauxhall Vivaro-E, for example, can travel up to 200 miles on a single charge.”

Electric vans are certainly a lot quieter than their diesel cousins too. Other than that, they’re similar to their traditional diesel equivalents, given the latter have become far more luxurious these days.

If you opt for an electric van then there’s the added bonus of helping the environment. With zero emissions, eco-conscious van drivers can be secure in the knowledge that their driving isn’t having a harmful impact on the planet.

Let’s not forget the reduced running costs of electric vans, either. A fully-electric van pays zero car tax, and fuel costs are slashed compared to running a petrol or diesel model. 

There are also government grants available to reduce the initial cost of buying an electric van, making it a more tempting prospect for drivers hesitant to make the switch.

 

What are the disadvantages of electric vans?

Of course, electric vans aren’t perfect. There are a few potential disadvantages that you need to consider before taking the plunge. 

Top of the list is the cost. Electric vehicles are generally more expensive than their diesel equivalents, even when you take the grants into account.

If you’re on a budget you need to weigh the initial outlay against the longer-term savings in terms of fuel and various road-related charges.

Then there’s the practicality. Today’s electric vans can cover more miles than used to be possible, but that still might not be enough. It all depends on how you’re using the van.

If it’s for the increasingly popular last-mile delivery tasks, where drivers are dropping off parcels to the local area, then they make complete sense. 

In these cases, the distances covered should be lower. But  if you’re looking to drive up and down motorways all day long then battery life may be an issue.

It’s a point acknowledged by Dan Powell: 

“As with all things in life, electric vans might not be suitable for everyone

“If you’re a builder who regularly covers high mileage and don’t have access to a home charging point then you may be better off with a traditional diesel van.”

Would-be buyers also need to pay attention to the payload limits. In some electric vans this is lower than a diesel equivalent due to the extra weight of the batteries. 

This may not be an issue if you’re carrying lighter loads, such as flowers, but is something to bear in mind if you’re lugging heavy tools and equipment.

Another consideration is the cost of electric van insurance. As electric vans aren’t yet commonplace, they could be more expensive to repair due to less common and specialist parts.

This increases the size of any electric van insurance claim, which in turn could make your policy more expensive. The best way to mitigate this is to compare van insurance policies to ensure you’re getting the best policy at the best price for you.

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Which electric van has the longest range?

As you might expect, the larger the van, the bigger the battery, the longer the range.

One of the longest range electric vans currently is the Fiat E-Ducato electric van. With a 79kWh battery, the E-Ducato boasts a range of 223 miles. 

 

How far can I travel on one charge? 

The best vans in this space can look to achieve up to 200 miles on a single charge. That’s more than enough for most city centre driving needs. However, many won’t get near this figure. You might expect a range of between 80 and 150 miles, depending on the model.

The ranges between vans also vary depending on:

  • The size of the van
  • How they’re driven
  • The driving conditions

It’s best to take a look at what sort of distances you’re covering in an average day before you decide on a particular electric van.

 

How much do electric vans cost?

Given the technology used to power them, electric vans tend to be more expensive than their diesel counterparts. 

For example, the lowest-priced model on our best electric vans list comes in at £32,000. The most expensive on the list is almost double that at £59,000.

But it’s important to balance out the initial cost with the longer-term savings. Dan Powell says:

“Admittedly, electric vans are more expensive to buy outright compared to their diesel counterparts but there are huge long-term savings to be made on fuel and tax.

"Electric vans are also exempt from low emission zones and congestion charging.”

 

Is it worth buying an electric van?

This depends on your needs.

If you work in a large city or make lots of short-drop work in your van then an electric vehicle could make a lot of sense.

When you consider that electric vans have fewer moving parts, this can result in lower service and maintenance costs.

But if you do a lot of long-haul driving or carry heavy goods, the cons could outweigh the pros. With limited battery life and reduced carrying capacity, it could make more sense to stick with diesel for now.



Are there any business benefits if you make your fleet electric?

The government’s plug-in grant scheme for low emission vehicles offers significant benefits to businesses. 

Applicants can claim a total of 1,000 plug-in van and truck grants for their business or organisation each year. This limit resets every year on 1 April.

According to Andy Gibbs, head of group technical at TaxAssist Accountants, electric vans are becoming a more popular choice for businesses to provide their employees:

“In addition to the environmental benefits of an electric van, businesses and individuals shouldn’t overlook the attractive tax benefits that an electric van offers over a petrol van.”

He emphasised how savings can be made in respect of the benefit in kind, where someone pays company car tax on an electric van being provided through their employer:

“No taxable benefit arises on either a petrol or electric van if the van is only used for business journeys and ordinary commuting.

“If the van is used for more than this, a benefit in kind charge may arise on employee provided vans.”

In the tax year ending April 2021, an electric van was taxed at 80% of the benefit charge compared to a normal van, which was £3,490. 

The taxable benefit for an electric van would therefore have been £2,792, 80% of £3,490.

From April 2021, there are no van benefit charges for employees who drive fully electric vans, even where they use the van privately.

Let’s look at an employee who pays tax at 40%. The tax charge on having a traditional petrol van with private use for the full 2021/22 tax year would be £1,400 (£3,500 X 40%).

If they switched to an all-electric van, the tax bill would drop to zero, a saving of £1,400.

 

What’s the government plug-in grant for electric vans?

This is a major incentive. This grant saves you up to £2,500 on a small electric van and £5,000 on a large electric van.

The government announced the new grants last December to “enable a more sustainable grant scheme” and ensure that taxpayers’ money is distributed more fairly.

The amount is usually automatically taken off the list price when you buy the van.

 

Which vans are eligible for the plug-in grant?

The government has listed the following small vans as qualifying for the scheme

These vehicles are less than 2,500 kilograms (kg) gross vehicle weight, have CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and can travel at least 96km (60 miles) without any emissions at all:

  • Citroën e-Berlingo
  • Maxus eDeliver 3 (short wheelbase variants)
  • Nissan e-NV200
  • Nissan Voltia
  • Peugeot e-Partner
  • Renault Kangoo ZE
  • Renault Zoe Van
  • Toyota Proace City Electric
  • Vauxhall Combo-e

The government has also listed the following large vans. These vehicles are between 2,500kg and 3,500kg gross vehicle weight, have CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and can travel at least 96km (60 miles) without any emissions at all:

  • BD Auto eTraffic
  • BD e-Boxer
  • BD e-Ducato
  • BD e-Relay
  • Citroën e-Dispatch
  • Citroën e-Relay
  • Fiat e-Ducato
  • LEVC VN5
  • MAN eTGE
  • Maxus eDeliver 3 
  • Maxus eDeliver 9
  • Mercedes-Benz eVito
  • Mercedes eSprinter
  • Peugeot e-Boxer
  • Peugeot e-Expert
  • Renault Master ZE (3.1 and 3.5 tonnes)
  • Renault Trucks Master ZE
  • Toyota Proace Electric
  • Vauxhall Vivaro-e
  • Volkswagen ABT e-Transporter
  • LDV EV80

 

Which is the best electric van to buy?

It all depends on your needs. If you’re after a smaller van then the Citroen e-Berlingo with its payload of up to 800Kg is certainly worth a look. If you’re wanting something more substantial than the Vauxhall Vivaro-E should be considered.

 

Are electric vans cheaper to run?

Yes – particularly given how high the price of petrol has gone over recent months. And with savings on your annual tax bill too, the overall lower running costs could make an electric van a tempting prospect.

 

How long do electric vans last?

It’s too early to say. No-one knows yet how long the batteries will last for and when any particular components will need replacing.

Most manufacturers have a warranty on their batteries of about five to eight years. But it’s predicted that electric batteries could last a decade or two, depending on the conditions.