Get a quote

Call us: 0345 6461396

Compare van quotes from leading insurers

Electric van payloadTrue or false? All-electric vans have lower payloads because they are heavier than traditional commercial vehicles.

To answer this we need to know some fundamentals about payloads, licences and also about electric vans. So, here we go!

Basics of payloads

A van's payload measurement is not how many pallets you can fit inside or the cubic space. Payload is a specific weight calculated by subtracting the van's unladen weight from the manufacturer's gross vehicle mass (GVM), sometimes also known as maximum authorised mass (MAM) or gross plated weight.

The GVM is the maximum permissible weight of the vehicle including load, passengers, fuel, and anything else carried in or on the van. The unladen weight is the weight of the van's standard structure without any passengers, goods, fuel or batteries (for electric vans), etc.

Payloads might also be calculated by some manufacturers as GVM less kerbside weight – which is the weight of the unladen van, plus fuel or battery pack.

So, as batteries for all-electric vans are currently heavier than a tank of fuel, it stands to reason that the payloads of electric vans will be lower, doesn't it? Well yes, but you should read on.

GVM and driving a light commercial vehicle in the UK

All vans will have the GVM printed on a plate or sticker attached to the vehicle's chassis. (There are other weights to be aware of including axle weights and gross train weights, but for the purpose of answering the question at the top of the page, we don't need to think about them here.)

Traditionally-fuelled light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in the UK can have a maximum GVM of 3.5 tonnes (3,500kg) and this means they can be driven on a standard cat B driving licence. Once you start looking at heavier vans with higher payload weights, you are entering the realms of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and these require advanced driving licences, operational licences, and intensive training, regulation and management.

If you need higher payloads, there's a lot more to think about, and that's why the question of LCV payload is an important one.

Rule changes for alternatively-fuelled vehicles

In the early days of electric LCVs, the maximum weight ruling meant that anyone considering buying an electric van had to settle for reduced payload amounts if they wanted to drive on a standard licence. This affected a number of industry bodies, so they lobbied the government for change.

In 2018, the rules were changed for alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AVFs) – those powered by electricity, natural gas, biogas or hydrogen – so that AVFs up to 4.25 tonnes (4,250 kg) could be driven on a standard category B licence with certain stipulations: the van cannot be used for trade or hire outside the UK, it can't tow a trailer, or be used to transport goods, and the driver must undertake 5 hours of training.

AVFs with GVM of 4.25 tonnes

So the rules changed to help all-electric van drivers keep a decent payload, yes, but what does that actually look like on paper.

Let's look at the new Ford E-Transit – the specs says the 4.25 Tonne medium height E-Transit van can carry up to 1,758 kg of cargo, whereas the traditionally-fuelled alternative which can be driven on a standard licence (the diesel 3.5 Tonne L2H2 FWD model) has a payload guidance weight of between 1379 – 1472kg.

For the Vauxhaull Vivaro and Vivaro-e (electric version), the two models have maximum payload of up to 1, 458kg and 1,226 kg respectively (3,100kg maximum GVM). Moving up to the Movano, the maximum payload available on a 3.5 tonne model is 1,790kg while maximum payload on the Movano-e (electric version) 3.5 tonne model is up to 1,150kg.

The answer to the question

So, do electric vans have lower payload weights traditionally-fuelled vans? Well, yes, but that's not the be all and end all (unless you transport heavy metals for a living), is it?

When buying an electric van instead of a diesel van, you'll need to consider what you transport, how heavy it is, how far you need to travel and the type of driving you'll be doing (multi delivery or low stop/high mileage). You might want to consider towing a trailer as well, to increase your payload.

For example, the Peugeot e-Expert has a maximum payload of up to 1,226kg and can tow an additional 1,000kg.

Electric van insurance from iVan

One last question to answer: is electric van insurance more expensive than cover for traditional vans?

Once again, there's no straightforward 'yes' or 'no' answer to this question, because with every day that goes by, electric vans are becoming more mainstream. Like all new technology, gradually the prices come down and so cheap van insurance becomes easier to find.

If you are considering buying an electric vehicle over a diesel alternative, why not give our quote engine a try to compare van insurance quotes. Alternatively, give iVan a call, we're powered by City Insurance and our team of sales advisers are experienced in providing van insurance for professionals.