Is it time to consider an EV van for your business?

Below is an article from Owen from ACES Pest Control in Auckland, New Zealand. Owen recently went down the electric vehicle route and wants to share his story with his process and thoughts on this growing trend.

Thinking of buying an electric van?

Until recently I was driving my beloved Holden Commodore Ute for work.

Somewhat of icon of a Ute, being the 2015 model the ear they stopped making them. I joked with people that after years of refinement Holden finally got the Commodore right and then stopped making it!

The main reason for changing from the Holden was it was too low the ground and would constantly hit the front and back going into and out of appointments. Sometimes leaving the bumper behind, resulting in a costly insurance job. While looking around for a suitable van, I found Peugeot had stock of the e-partner electric van. The e-partner is shorter and narrower than the Holden and most importantly, not as low to ground.

The first question I asked Trent the salesman was what was the range? About 300km was the reply. That was doable, and with that it was a done deal, I was going full electric and emission free.

Goodbye much loved Holden.

I must admit that switching an EV van was nerve racking initially, as I was unsure about its range. Add to this that I was somewhat emotionally attached to the Holden. My thoughts were, I would really miss the power of the six cylinder Holden and also how it drove (awesome).

However, I was resolute that it was the best thing to do for the business, and the planet. So, I gritted my teeth and prepared for a divorce from my much-loved Holden.

Surprising some of my friends joined in the nay saying telling me I was making big mistake.

Is it time to consider an EV van for your business?
Owen in Narrow Neck, Auckland

3 Months of Owning an Electric Van

Almost three months on how’s it been?

Well actually not what I expected. In fact, much better.

Firstly, the range issue, its real it’s not really a big thing. Let me explain. You start each day with a full charge (or tank of gas). So most days I’m back finished with more than 100km to spare. This as I stay within the bounds of Auckland. Should you get caught short, there are fast chargers around.

Recently I tested one out.

A 50Kw/hr charger at a Z station. I hooked up the van over lunch time, and in the time it took me to eat a chicken salad and read the news on stuff, the van was charged up.

Over a normal day for business I never need to visit a charging station as I don’t do over 250km per day. So range anxiety is a real thing for my business around Auckland. An EV is very quiet to drive. You hear other cars motors not your own. Less white noise means you feel fresher at the end of the day.

Also when customers call in on the handsfree system when driving it’s much easier to talk to each other. Of course let’s not forget about the tunes on the radio sounding better too.

Its fast too. Weirdly, faster than the Holden off the mark. It has more torque and no gears. So when hydrocarbon vehicles, pause to change gear, you just race ahead. The power is instant, there’s no waiting around, off you go! An eerie thing is that you can accelerate without any noise.

The Holden would make a fair old racket when you put the power down. With the EV all you hear is the rushing
wind. The most impressive thing about an EV is the running costs. So far I am averaging $5 a day in electricity for a full days work around Auckland.

Remember there are no servicing costs as there there’s no motor under the bonnet. The daily cost compares to around $200+ (NZD) weekly for fuel for the Holden (plus servicing costs).

This is where EVs have hybrids beat, there’s no motor to service under the bonnet. The daily running costs of EV’s and their lack of servicing costs are their best keep secret.

Gas prices going up again? Meh say the EV owners. We are longer at the oil barons mercy!

The Cons of Owning an EV Van

I will mention that a few drawbacks.

Firstly, there are some initial extra costs to EVs. If you charge of a normal wall plug its going to take days! So a wall charger will speed this up to hours. I installed a wall charger so its fully charged from zero in around 6 hours (overnight). The wall charger was $2K (NZD) because my home was built in 1972, the fuse box needed to be replaced to handle the high volume of electricity safely. That’s another $2K (NZD).

Secondly my van has frozen once.

You know like windows computer use to do on the regular.

Except there’s no “control alt delete” buttons to restart the van. While waiting for the tow truck it reset itself and I could turn it back on after about 90 minutes. The dealership did an update for the software, and it’s been running smoothly since.

Thirdly, there isn’t an established network of fast chargers like there are gas stations. However, gas stations are currently installing fast chargers nationwide on their sites. Fast chargers are popping up everywhere.

Having said that at the moment, If you are going long distance you need to plan for a charging stop.

Fourthly, EVs mostly have a premium initial price. You recover this over the first 12-24 months of usage, but it’s still a bit salty up front. As the sales volume increases the prices should come down.

There are few circumstances where an EV is not suitable. These are;

(i) Towing heavy loads. This will decrease their range significantly.
(ii) The vehicle is driven around the clock on shifts. EVs need down time to charge.
(iii) You cover large distances everyday e.g., 300k or more.

My initial reason for switching to a EV was to reduce emissions for the business. However, its become somewhat of a revelation, it has opened my eyes to another way power my vehicle. Do I miss the Holden? Well, it was the KING of cool. I’ve gone from super cool in the Commodore to
super uncool (looking like Postman Pat in his van).

This doesn’t really bother me as the Holden was always a work horse for the business. There is only one drawback of the EVs and that is the charging network isn’t in place yet. But give it time, as fast chargers are popping up everywhere.

If your business is like mine and doesn’t need to travel super long distances, you don’t need a charging network to trade. And of course, the thing I like the most about EVs is the SUPER low cost of running the transport.

In hard economic times, that’s a BIG win for a business. Maybe its time to take a second looks at EV’s for your business? They make sense on many levels, and like it or not you they are the future of transport.