Electric Vans: Is Now the Right Time to Plug In?

Electric VansLow emissions driving is becoming more popular than ever, and over 70,000 people in the UK have already made the switch from petrol or diesel to electric. As a commercial vehicle operator or fleet manager, cutting costs fleet wide is of course a main priority but what role do electric vehicles play in achieving this goal?

Fuel savings, low maintenance and major tax breaks make going low emissions more accessible than ever before, and with the availability of government grants slashing the showroom value of electric vans and other vehicles dramatically, the only major concerns left are whether electric alternatives can indeed go the distance, and once recharging is required, are plug in points really as reachable as they make out? Here we take a look at the current state of the charge point network, the government funding available for plug in points, and just how the petrol and diesel powered commercial vehicle world is fighting back…

Charging electric vehicles

Charging your electric vehicle both at home and on the move is a point that many potential low emission investors make against opting for this greener way to drive, but as the number of low emission drivers increases so too does the network of charge points. There are now more than 11,000 charge points based around England and Wales, and roughly 96% of motorway service stations are also fully equipped with at least one rapid charger, which charges an electric vehicle to at least 80% in under 30 minutes. As well as charge points on the road being more accessible, and journeys in electric vehicles more comfortable and confident as a result, installing a plug in point in your business premises or even your home is now possible thanks to specialised government support.

Government funding for plug in points

In addition to providing grants to lower the price you pay at the showroom for your electric vehicle, shaving up to £4,500 off a brand new electric car and up to £8,000 off an electric van via the Plug-in Car Grant and the Plug-in Van Grant, support is also available to minimise the cost of any equipment or installation fees associated with home and business charge point fitting.

Whether you have off-street or on-street parking at your residence, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) will cover 75% of the cost. The eligibility criteria for the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme has recently changed. From the 1st July 2016, a grant of up to £500 – this funding was originally capped at £700 including VAT – will be available to those who have taken keepership of an electric vehicle. Whilst this vehicle can be new or secondhand, it must be a make and model that is eligible. This means that drivers can charge vehicles at their homes easily and safely.

Are fuelled vehicles soon to be made redundant?

Whilst the role of electric vans is growing, and is likely in the future to overtake the numbers of fuelled vehicles on our roads, the increasing number of refuelling stations for HGVs shows that there’ll always be a place for diesel and petrol powered vans in the commercial vehicle world, after all low emission driving isn’t for everyone.

Traditional refuelling is undergoing its own evolution; recently HGV refuelling experts ENN and Pro-Petro Ltd teamed up to launch the UK’s first open access natural gas vehicle refuelling station, and plans for 10 more similar stations are also in the pipeline. Our world is changing and hopefully to a cleaner better future for commercial vehicles.