If your business relies on one or a fleet of panels vans to deliver your product or services then you probably wish they were electric or hybrid, given the rising cost of fuel. However, the price of battery powered vans and lead times could put you off. But don’t be; do the maths and it could well be worth your while.

In the last issue, Discover’s editor Melanie (yes, we are married!) announced she took the plunge and went electric. In this month’s issue of Business Talk I’ll share some of our research and the numbers that led to this decision.

As a local company Discover Magazines is of course concerned about the local environment, getting 172,000 magazines into the hands of 150 distributors across 12 magazine areas adds up to a lot of van miles. But would a switch be affordable, and how long would it take?

An initial analysis of European “brand name” vans indicated they sold at a high premium when compared to diesel panel vans, this making it hard to see a return such any investment. But looking around us we also saw that the vans used by DPD were in fact manufactured by SAIC , China’s largest car maker.  The van type was called a Maxus. A quick Google check showed they had a local van agent called BP Rolls ( in Andover and that same day we sat and shared a coffee with Tariq Abul their Sales Manager.  

Tariq gave us a cost calculator and helped us plug in our data in a comparison to a standard diesel panel van. Purchase costs, depreciation, service, fuel, electricity, maintenance etc etc. Of course, as fuel costs have rocketed the return times on an investment in an electric van have been shrinking.

The Government allows companies to claim 130% of the van cost against that year’s profits, offsetting your corporation tax bill by a significant amount. The van can be driven for free in the London Congestion Charge area and there is no road tax to pay. A £350 OLEV subsidy is also available for your EV charge point and if you sign up to an Economy 7 meter you can tap into lower overnight tariffs between 11pm and 8am. Small businesses may also be eligible for the Plug-In Car Grant (PICG) up to a maximum of £2,500.  There is also currently a £5000 OZEV grant available from the government.

With all the above applied the capital amount your small business will pay for the smaller sized Maxus, about a 1 tonne payload, is not so different to the cost of a diesel van. The operational costs are significantly lower so offering a short payback period. Delivery on the van was only a few weeks.

As the pictures will show BP Rolls even wrapped the Discover Magazines van, turning it into a driveable advert for the business. Saving money, doing the right thing for the environment and helping to win new business!