Leading the charge20 June 2023
Petrol and diesel prices over the past couple of years have risen swiftly from high to sky-high to heading into outer space, putting more pressure on already hard-pressed businesses. This, and let’s be honest, maybe more than environmental considerations, has boosted interest in electric and vans
Even though the average price of diesel at UK filling stations fell by nearly 4p per litre in April it still remains at least 16p more expensive than it should be, according to the RAC.
The motoring organisation said diesel was being sold for around 13p per litre more than petrol, despite diesel now being 6p per litre cheaper than petrol on the wholesale market. The respective pumpprice averages in April were 159.43p and 146.5p.
Last month, RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “Diesel drivers across the UK mainland continue to lose out badly at the pumps. They’re paying 13p a litre more for the fuel than petrol, despite diesel being cheaper for retailers to buy on the wholesale market for all of April.”
Compelling reasons to fi nd alternatives and we asked James Dallas, editor of LCN’s sister magazine and website What Van? to help us fi nd out more about electric vans.
He pointed us at some really useful information including a recent report in the magazine on a survey of UK van drivers by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles which found 70% believe an electric model would be suitable for their business. Only 13% of those surveyed were sceptical that an EV could meet their daily business needs.
The number of van drivers considering an EV suitable has risen from 50% when VW conducted a previous survey in 2019, while the percentage of sceptics has fallen from 24% four years ago.
Among the possible factors in this change highlighted by VW is the London scrappage scheme providing fi nancial assistance of up to £7,500 to eligible enterprises to replace an ICE van with a fully electric model.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles head of network sales Rob Holdcroft says: “Our research shows that there is clear appetite for electric vehicles, and the new scrappage scheme is a great opportunity for London-based businesses to benefi t from signifi cant reductions while reducing on-road emissions and improving London’s air quality. We think it will drastically accelerate the switch to electromobility in the LCV sector.”
On the road
Meanwhile, five Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo electric vans have been delivered to Miele fl eets across Europe, including one to Miele GB, with features including a custom shelving system, and a centre console with integrated folding table.
The customisation is said to have been part of a development process between Miele, converter Wurth, and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.
Miele GB fleet manager Mandy Vanstone said: “As part of Miele’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, we are excited to welcome the new fullycustomised Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo vans to our fleet of over 2,700 service vehicles worldwide.
“We are right at the start of this journey, but it is something we are very passionate about. Over the coming years, we intend to purchase many more fullyelectric and hydrogen-powered vehicles.”
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles national fleet manager Craig Cavanagh said: “With ULEZs expanding and the push to meet strict net zero targets by 2050, there is a growing urgency to reduce onroad emissions when delivering products and services.
“We’re delighted Miele has selected Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles once again and we can embark on the next exciting step in this long-standing partnership together.”
“The Vauxhall Vivaro-e is currently the best-selling electric van in the UK and the Toyota Proace Electric is based on the same assembly line. In the May issue of What Van? there will be a comparison test drive of the diesel and electric Proace vans,’ says Dallas. (Unfortunately it hadn’t been published as LCN went to press but find out more at www.whatvan.co.uk.)
What Van? reviewed the Vauxhall Vivaro Electric GS (2023) in April and said: “As we head towards the brave new world of electrification, the Vauxhall Vivaro Electric has a central role to play in the UK’s transitioning light commercial market.”
The Vivaro Electric is also available as the Citroën e-Dispatch, Peugeot e-Expert and Fiat Professional e-Scudo, not to mention Toyota’s Proace Electric because all these well known brands are produced by global automotive giant Stellantis, “but the Luton-based brand has a history and presence in the domestic arena that the others cannot rival”, said What Van?.
Of the 5,038 e-LCVs Vauxhall sold in 2022, (a rise of 73% from 2021), the plugin Vivaro accounted for 4,212, making it the UK’s most popular electric van. With Ford’s E-Transit Custom due before the end of the year it will come in for some competition but let’s see.
While the Prime and Pro grades come with a choice of 50kWh or 75kWh batteries, the GS gets just the larger of the two. This gives the GS a range of 189 miles on the WLTP cycle compared to 143 miles on versions with the smaller battery. The GS is short-wheelbase only, unlike the Prime and Pro, which are also offered with a longer wheelbase.
Charging at the fleet’s HQ or back at home for small businesses and owner drivers is the most economical and least stressful solution but otherwise electric van users have to take their chances with the public charging infrastructure. The What Van testers were lucky enough to come upon a free InstaVolt charge point in a McDonalds car park and charged the GS Electric from 60% to 90% of its capacity for £18.79.
Vauxhall claims a 100kW DC charger will deliver a 0% to 80% fill in 45 minutes, an 11kW AC charger will go from 0% to 100% in seven hours and a 7kW AC charger will do the same in 11 hours 20 minutes. Price (ex VAT, inc. PiVG) £50,000.
Last year, What Van? road tested the Toyota Proace City Electric (version L1). Like the Vivaro, this van is fundamentally the same as the Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner, and Vauxhall Combo. All produced by global automotive giant Stellantis.
Buyers can specify either a 7kW singlephase or a 11kW three-phase OBC (onboard charger). The former enables you to charge up the battery in 7.1 hours if you plug the van into a wallbox. The What Van? vehicle was equipped with the 11kW OBC, which cuts the charging time to 4.5 hours assuming that you have access to a three-phase supply.
Whichever on-board charger you have, if you connect the van to a public or business 100kW DC fast-charger then the battery will make its way back up to 80% of its capacity in half-an-hour, says Toyota. However, when plugged into a domestic three-pin socket, however, and it will take a tedious 30.5 hours to get it from 0% to 100%.
Price as tested £28,851
Tonnes of savings
According to a report on the What Van? website, nearly 20 million tonnes of CO2 per year could be saved if all UK vans became fully electric, says research by Vauxhall. The manufacturer said that, based on UK Government and Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures, vans currently accounted for 18.2% of the UK’s annual transport-related CO2 emissions, and 4.6% of the country’s total annual carbon emissions.
With 4.77 million petrol or diesel vans on the road, and with an average annual mileage of 13,000 according to the Department for Transport, Vauxhall says UK van drivers were covering more than 62 billion miles annually.
Using the SMMT’s average new van emissions estimate of 195.7g/km of CO2 as the fleet average emissions, Vauxhall said it calculated that annual CO2 emissions exceeded 19.5 million tonnes.
CHARGING INFRASTRUCTURE GROWTH
The Government has announced the launch of its £381million Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) fund, alongside an additional £15million for the On-Street Residential Charging Scheme (ORCS).
The Government says that taken together, this funding will support the installation of tens of thousands of new chargers across the country.
Technology and Decarbonisation Minister Jesse Norman said: “As today’s announcements show, the Government is doing more than ever to help the UK move away from petrol and diesel and towards electric vehicles.
“That means investing in charging infrastructure and giving a clear direction to manufacturers, so they can roll out new electric vehicles faster and more efficiently.
“Overall, the UK is leading the way in decarbonising transport, a sector that is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases.”