More and more enterprises are using electric vans in their everyday operations. However, there is not yet a boom comparable to that in electric cars. According to Carsten Benke from the Central Association of German Crafts (ZDH), this is due to the industry's particular requirements, which the offer has so far not met in many situations.
The use of e-vans in the trade has only developed gradually because the requirements for vehicle technology are more specific there than in the passenger car sector, Benke told the editorial network in Germany. Last year, however, there was a breakthrough. As a result, there is now a more extensive selection of suitable electric commercial vehicles available, at least in the weight class up to 2.8 tons and increasingly also in the direction of 3.5 tons.
In 2019, according to a survey, only 4 % of the vehicles in the trade were equipped with an alternative drive. Current numbers are not available, but an upward trend is rising. German car manufacturers like Audi, Mercedes-Benz or BMW are also moving up in production: while the proportion of electricity in light commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tons was 0.4 % in 2015, it reached 3.9 % in the first quarter of 2021, according to the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).
Craft businesses that are already using e-vans have had positive experiences, according to Benke. Surveys show that companies are delighted with electric vans. Good driving behaviour and good acceleration are often praised. The trades benefited above all from the positive environmental image of the alternative drive type. The low noise level when driving could also be an essential factor, especially for morning deliveries.
More autonomy & transport volume are required.
The extent to which electric vans are used depends heavily on the location and purpose of the businesses. The comparatively short range of around 150 to 200 kilometres could be a problem, especially for smaller craft businesses in rural regions. These are sometimes on the move hundreds of kilometres a day and often do not have the necessary charging infrastructure available. Use in the city is less of a problem. "In the coming years, e-vans will be able to establish themselves more quickly in service-oriented small businesses in the trade as well as in craft businesses in urban areas," believes Benke. Because in the city, an electric van usually only has to cover short distances, and there are also plenty of charging options.
For sectors such as road builders, carpenters and roofers, the suitable range of electric vans is still missing, regardless of location. These areas require a substantial transport volume, which is much lower with e-vans than with diesel vans due to the heavy battery, according to Denke.
Another obstacle to the expanse of e-mobility, especially in small companies, is the continued high prices of e-vans. The acquisition costs are significantly higher than for diesel and gasoline transporters, said Benke.
In terms of operating expenses, however, an electric vehicle is cheaper than a conventional van. In the craft sector, vehicles would be used for a long time; after 12 to 15 years, the lower operating costs could represent real added value. The ZDH e-mobility expert is hoping for further support, especially for small and medium-sized companies. Some of the previous funding programs were designed for short periods of time.