We’ve chosen the e-Dispatch from the mid-size van class because of its competitive pricing (starting from £28,250 after the government’s £6000 plug-in grant), a one-tonne payload and a class-topping 205-mile WLTP range. Apart from the Citroën’s sibling alternatives from Vauxhall and Peugeot, Mercedes’ e-Vito and Volkswagen’s e-Transporter are your only other options in this class, but they cost more, carry less and won’t travel as far on a single charge.
I must admit to feeling a tad vulnerable when I pitch up in my gleaming black 21-plate van at Hermes’ central Leicester hub to start my shift. On either side of me is a Transit and a Sprinter, each of which are, shall we say, care-worn, and look like they’ve been driven to the moon and back. Their drivers are emptying cages piled high with parcels that have started their journeys at various Hermes hubs around the country and, for this region, have been sent to a main sorting depot at Coventry. From there, the Leicester deliveries are picked and sent on a truck to ‘my’ hub for deliveries around the city.
To save Hermes’ blushes and my inevitable incompetence at performing the most basic delivery tasks, I’m accompanied today by seasoned hand Adam Ludkin, who will be my guide and mentor. As a diesel van driver, Adam is also keen to learn if an e-van would fit into his world and offer cost and drivability advantages if he were to make the switch. He’s promised not to laugh when I don a Santa hat as we (hopefully) deliver Christmas cheer around the city.
This whole van delivery thing takes me back. As a car/driving-mad 20-year-old, I joined a same-day courier firm in the mid-1980s, delivering everything from design sketches to pallets full of print material across the country. So there’s a bit of a nostalgia rush as I stand in the back of the e-Dispatch, arranging the parcels in address order as Adam scans each one off the cage. Adam’s mates are intrigued by the e-van. Some are sceptical (range anxiety and battery life the main concerns), while others are tempted by the prospect of not having to shell out for another tank of eye-wateringly expensive diesel.
Either way, since most of them own their vans outright, the biggest cost implication of running an e-van will be its purchase price and whether or not other savings will manage to offset that over a period of time.