Whilst it is pretty clear that electric vehicles are the vans of the future, the technology and infrastructure is just not there yet for many campervan users.
The exceptions are: those who only want a small day van to stay extremely local with, those with a small campervan who plan to drive relatively short distances (less than 100 miles) between campsites or other locations where they can charge their vehicles overnight, to travel light, and who are happy to plan their trips around charging points!
The key barrier here is the limited range of electric vehicles, which at the moment have a typical range of 100 miles, which is very dependent on the weight in the back and how the van is driven. Because of the time it can take to recharge the battery, and the lack of a systematic network of charging stations, this means that electric vans are not yet suitable for those who want to regularly travel long distances quickly in their vans, without planning their route around charging points and adjusting their expectations of speed.
If you are in the market for a small campervan that you either want to use primarily as a day van, or take short, local trips in, there is a possibility that an electric vehicle could work for you.
At the moment in the UK, we have around 5000 charging points, which are mostly located in cities. Most private electric vehicle owners also charge their vehicles overnight by simply plugging them into their home power supply. The time it can take to charge in this way will vary between around four and 12 hours, depending on the ampage of the supply.
If you are driving relatively short distances between campsites with a hook-up, you could check with the campsite if they are happy for you to charge your vehicle from the hook-up.
Electric campervans are cost effective
Once you have paid the initial price for the van, electric vehicles are far more cost effective than those run on fossil fuels, costing an average of 2p per mile to run. You will also be exempt from some other costs such as congestion charging and road tax.
On the other hand, electric vans can cost a lot more than their fossil fuel counterparts to start with. A small electric van could cost around £20,000 however there are some limited government grants available to help with the cost.
Far better for the environment
Electric vans are undoubtedly far better for the environment as they produce no carbon in their running. However, the overall carbon footprint of an electric vehicle needs to be assessed within the context of their production, and the ultimate source of the electricity being used to charge them.
Research suggests that almost all the carbon emissions of electric vehicles are produced during their manufacture, with a secondary source of emissions involving their subsequent transport before sale. Many manufacturers are working to reduce the carbon footprint from their production lines and supply chain.
Given the balance described above, it’s an interesting question as to whether it is ultimately better for the environment to rush to get a new electric vehicle, or patch and make do until your existing vehicle is really on its last legs. Protecting the planet ultimately involves consuming less, and re-using and fixing up what is broken rather than throwing it away. So those of you with a much loved older campervan, or whose budget will currently only stretch to an older diesel vehicle, should not despair! The future includes you too and there are many ways you can “green” your existing campervan without having to buy an electric van.
At Love Campers we are keeping a very close eye on developments around Electric Campervans – follow us on Facebook where we will post relevant updates.
Also published on Medium.