Diesel or electric: which van is more economical?

van interior

It’s no secret that we Brits are far from buying into the electric van zeal and are far more comfortable with the familiarity of petrol and diesel. However, improvements to diesel engine efficiency for commercial vehicles would eclipse the economic efficiency of electric vans according to a major manufacturer.

With hype surrounding our carbon footprint and our emissions not to mention the increasing costs of tax in light of the bracket changes, there’s certainly room for improvement.

Advances in diesel technology

Managing director at Mercedes-Benz Vans, Steven Bridge considers that technology used in van diesel engines has significantly advanced over recent years; many manufacturers are adopting fuel-saving features that are currently available in cars.

Bridge told Fleet News that these advancements in diesel engines could rival any potential savings with electric vans.

Bridge said: “Even if we give them [electric vehicles], they wouldn’t want them”.

Electric vans are failing to demonstrate cost-effectiveness

When speaking to Fleet News, Bridge added: “As we go further down the road of optimised diesel engines, it might become more difficult for pure-electric vans to demonstrate their cost effectiveness.”

The Mercedes-Bens Vito that is due to arrive in the UK in 2015 boasts a 20% fuel consumption improvement in addition to new-entry-level front-wheel drive using a 1.6-litre diesel engine. More powerful models are available using a cleaner 2.1-litre engine with rear-wheel drive.

Bridge added: “Van operators are more aware of fuel consumption than they were previously.”

With technological improvements being integrated into the manufacture of diesel engines, it begs the question: will electric vehicles ever conquer British roads?