As recently reported in Fleet News, there has been a 93% increase in vans on UK roads since 1995. However, those classed as Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV’s), account for just 0.3% of the total. Because although Electric Vehicles (EV’s), are an increasing sight on UK roads, we’re less familiar with another type of EV – the Electric Van (E-Van).

This however, is about to change. Not only are E-Vans greener, there’s also an increasing choice of model and both practical and financial incentives for drivers. But as fleet managers begin to make the switch, what specific considerations help to reassure us that our investments in E-Vans are future-proof and give a good ROI?

1.E-Vans Are Greener

The demand for cleaner air and the decarbonisation of transport continues to be integral to a ‘green economic recovery’. If you’re in support of a greener planet, and drive a Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV), you have your part to play in this.

If you choose to drive an Electric Van, the benefits for the air pollution in your local area are huge. This is especially true if you work and operate in congested urban areas, mapped out to become Clean Air Zones. According to the BVRLA, with only 21% of the UK’s van fleet CAZ compliant, compared to 96% of fleet vehicles, the LCV sector has some catching up to do to reduce their carbon footprint and avoid those CAZ zone charges.

 

2.There’s Plenty Of Choice

While the electric commercial vehicle sector has so far lagged way behind the EV car market in the choices and viability of E-Vans, those choices are finally starting to emerge.

VW, Mercedes, Citroen, Nissan, Peugeot, Renault and Vauxhall are all converting their existing diesel product lines to E-Vans, and newcomers Rivian and Arrival will soon enter the market with bespoke solutions designed from the ground up. Pandemic aside, delivery & transportation services continue to be in demand as the shift from high street to online shopping persists. Often these vans have to operate in congested urban environments and to avoid Clean Air Zone charges must do so without emitting harmful pollutants, a huge contributor to poor urban air quality. The Dirty-Delivery Report 2020 (https://www.money.co.uk/guides/dirty-delivery-report-2020) listed a hierarchy of carbon conscious delivery companies, adding weight to the purchasing considerations of fleet managers large and small. With the total cost of ownership (TCO) far lower for E-Vans, there are compelling reasons to consider joining the EV revolution.

 

3.E-Vans Use Renewable Energies 

We’re witnessing a huge shift to renewable energy, especially amongst millennials, as we work to replace fossil fuels with more sustainable sources. And this can be seen across almost all sectors, from employment to transport.

Major companies with strong corporate social responsibility commitments, have already agreed to end fossil fuels by 2030. And they’ve done so before any legislative obligation instructed them to do so. Among these are partner companies Waitrose and John Lewis, who are quickly realising that there are more benefits to switching to electric energy and E-Vans, than simply reducing their corporate carbon footprint.

 

4.They Offer More Cargo Capacity

A switch to E-Vans and an electric engine would dramatically aid our planet’s green recovery, by reducing CO2 emission by 80%. And with no large diesel engine to accommodate, you will also have more cargo capacity. Match this with smart design elements and low centre of gravity and EV’s not only feel more spacious, they drive better too.

More capacity means that in some cases, it may be possible to replace three diesel vans with only two of the revolutionary new E-Vans. More cargo space means less vehicles in your fleet to maintain, and potentially less vans on the road.

 

5.E-Vans Will Save You Money Long Term 

A shift to e-mobility for blue chip companies who are fortunately placed in the logistics sector will deliver significant savings on tax, fuel and maintenance costs. But we understand that fleet managers, especially those in the rental market, remain cautious about the financial implications and cost of running E-Vans.

We saw evidence of this in the 2019/20 survey by the Department For Transport, where van operators elaborated on their reluctance to commit to electric. Their reasons included:

  • 49% worried about increased vehicle purchase cost 
  • 33% worried about cost or availability of used vehicles 

But we think by looking at the bigger picture, some of these concerns about the cost of E-Vans should be alleviated. In fact, McKinsey estimates fleet EV’s to have a total cost ownership between 15-25% less than fossil fuelled vehicles.

And whilst metrics forecast a cost-parity to Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) within the decade, it will likely arrive a lot sooner. As ICE costs are projected to rise, along with increased CO2 compliance measures, the same manufacturers will actually need to offset this with EV sales. 

6.E-Vans Suit Consumer Spending Habits

There’s been a steady change in consumer spending habits in the past few years, but that’s accelerated rapidly in the last 12 months. The transformation in how we’re buying goods opens a door for the EV industry. Van operators and logistics make up a significant proportion of van utilisation, and the ‘last-mile’ delivery sector now means 50% of vans travel locally – within just 15 miles of base.

This strengthens the case for E-Vans in urban logistics, which can be designed with consumer spending habits in mind for maximum efficiency, whilst also creating opportunities for operational savings. For example, lower range vehicles require smaller, less expensive batteries.

Arrival, the UK tech start-up serving the commercial sector, has designed it’s chassis and flexible configuration from the ground up, based on research indicating that most delivery vans travel a maximum of 40 – 100 miles a day. Global leading delivery company UPS has placed an order with Arrival for 10,000 E-Vans between now and 2024, with the possibility to purchase 10,000 more after that. The design of their Arrival Generation 2 E-Van not only surpasses traditional vans in design, with 40% savings on cargo capacity for delivery vehicles of the same size, it also boasts 50% reduction in operational costs for fleet managers.

7.E-Van Technology Is Evolving Fast

And that’s not all. The technology in this sector is constantly evolving. In fact, battery technology and density has improved over 100% in the last 8 years. Lithium battery prices have also been falling for 10 years, thanks in part to the growth of EV’s. Storage of energy within these battery packs and Vehicle-2-Grid (V2G) as a way to balance demand is a real prospect.

EV’s technology is evolving fast. And we can expect different concepts in production to be introduced every year, and for this to continue way into the future. As our global quest for more sustainable energy accelerates, the future looks increasingly uncertain for ICE’s.

8.EV’s Are The Future

As any age in technology closes, alongside the feeling of great optimism, exists a strong sense of trepidation. And without the same benefit gained from years of experience and understanding in the evolution of fossil fueled fleets, the new e-mobility revolution is bound to cause some uncertainty.

For fleet managers, a future in Electric Vans is inevitable. But in the meantime, concerns about availability, cost, choice and suitability of charging infrastructure will need to be addressed. For commercial fleets, adding an electric van or two to a fleet is obviously a start. But before E-Vans infiltrate and dominate the fleet sector, the uncertainties that exist need to be displaced. To create confidence and commitment in the EV revolution each business will need to assess their operation and develop their own strategy. Only in this way can the ‘direct to business’ benefits create the confidence and commitment that will see them prosper.