Electric-powered vehicles have got the wind in their sails, and governments, city planners and environmentalists are throwing their weight behind the movement. Could an electric van be the right choice for you? Let’s review the factors that will help you decide.
An electric van is clearly one of the options to consider in thinking about how to choose the van that's right for you. At Renault, we know that no two businesses are alike, and that your enterprise may not fall into a readily identifiable group. Some questions, however, can arise for any business. Here are a several possibilities that could make an electric van the right choice for you.
An electric van could be the right choice … if your business miles are within 62 a day
Renault’s research has shown that 70% of van drivers cover less than 62 miles per day. This comes well within the range of an electric van: the original Renault Kangoo Z.E. van has an NEDC range of up to 106 miles, which is increased by over 50% with the New Renault Kangoo Z.E. 33, to an NEDC measure of 170 miles and a real-world range of up to 124 miles*.
Note that clocking up more miles than this on a regular basis isn’t a deal-breaker. Realistically, all drivers need to take breaks on a long trip. With most UK motorway service stations now offering charging points, the possibilities are opening up.
However, an electric van may not be the right choice for you if you run a haulage or delivery business that entails hundreds of miles on a regular basis. Even if you take a break to recharge both yourself and your electric van, you get an extra 20 miles on one hour’s charge, which could not be enough to make this the right choice for you – yet.
…if your business is in a city or urban area
There are several very obvious advantages to an electric van in urban environments: being exempt from the congestion charge, as well as from the Low and Ultra Low Emission Zones charges in London and other cities such as Sheffield, Derby and Manchester, with some boroughs offering free parking for electric vans. But these are not the full story: driver experience is also a factor to consider. City driving and an urban business almost certainly entail lots of stopping and starting, waiting at traffic lights, and the resulting driver fatigue. In an electric van, the silent engine is a huge bonus, and the instant torque and lack of gear change makes for a smoother, more relaxing feel for the driver.
What other issues affect the choice of an electric van in a city environment?
Zero emissions could also grant access to areas that are off-limits to other vehicles: for example, an electric van can go into buildings like depots and warehouses.
Finding charging points has rapidly become a non-issue in urban environments. There is even a process of adding electric vehicle charging points to street lamps in some London boroughs.
In spite of the growing network of supermarkets, filling stations and retail parks that offer charge points (often at reduced prices), some rural areas might prevent you from making optimal use of your electric van. This is also true if your business covers a particularly large area, but should not be the case for long!
…if your payload is within 640 kg
If your business involves heavy haulage and carrying large bulky goods, then a compact van is not the right choice for you, let alone an electric variant. However, many entrepreneurs in the fields of electrics, plumbing, design, IT development, gardening and many others simply need to transport their tools of the trade; the equivalent of one Euro pallet, in terms of volume, will often be all they need. The fact is that if a compact van of any variety is suitable for your business needs, then so is an electric van, subject to the other factors such as range, location and financial issues.
The capacity and payload of the combustion-engine Renault Kangoo and the Kangoo Z.E. 33 electric van are almost identical, and so are the accessories you may need such as satnav, bulkhead options and smart interior storage solutions. These have all been carried over from the Renault Kangoo to the Z.E. version.
About electric vans and towing
Although it is possible to fit a tow bar to an electric van, towing is not advised and the towable weight is limited. For a vehicle pick-up and repair business, or if you routinely need to tow vehicles, boats, caravans or other trailers, an electric van will not be the right choice for you.
…if your business aims for eco-friendliness
For many people, particularly those who are passionate about their craft and making a difference around them, reducing carbon emissions can be reason enough to choose an electric vehicle. Quite apart from that, you know that image matters for marketing and public relations. If your business has anything to do with the environment, or eco-connected issues, a visible commitment to reduced emissions delivers a powerful message.
…if rock-bottom running costs are crucial
Of course, money matters to every business owner. Providing the other issues like range and location are compatible with your business, there’s no doubt that you can save costs with an electric van. Financial savings work in a number of ways.
Comparing purchase costs of electric and non-electric vans
Outright purchase of an electric van such as the Kangoo Z.E 33 costs around £3,000 more than its diesel equivalent, after the government plug-in van grant of 20% of the vehicle price, up to a maximum of £8,000 is taken into account. However, this is outshone by the whole-life savings you make with an electric van.
Savings on fuel costs, maintenance and tax
Fuel costs per mile are very significantly lower for an electric van. Depending on whether you take advantage of off-peak low prices for charging, fuel costs can amount to 3p per mile** for an electric van like the Kangoo Z.E 33, compared with around 13.8p for a similarly-sized petrol engine and 9.2p for a diesel equivalent.
Maintenance costs for an electric van are lower thanks to fewer moving parts in the engine, and fewer parts to service or replace. For example, there is no timing belt, air filter or fuel filter to replace, and no oil changes.
Government tax benefits for ultra-low emission vehicles include 100% capital allowance in the first year, which means that a small business can deduct the full cost of the vehicle from its taxable profits.
Outstanding issues on electric vans?
At Renault, we’ve built up a lot of knowledge over the years. We would love to take the chance of a chat about your business to help you decide whether an electric van is right for you.
*The NEDC is a standardised European test procedure which can be used to compare fuel consumption of different models and manufacturers, as the tests puts vehicles under the same conditions. In real life, many factors such as your driving style, the type of journey, your speed and the climate affect how far your New Kangoo Z.E. 33 will go. This is why we at Renault give you realistic summer and winter figures based on our testing of the vehicle, rather than just the theoretical driving range.
**Less than £3 full recharge cost, calculated by (a) overnight electricity charges (Npower Online Price Fix July 2018 rates for payment via monthly Direct Debit as of May 2017) and (b) a full recharge of the 33kWh battery.