Electric vans are reliable but also energy intensive, experts say

The latest electric pickups can be prohibitively expensive for those looking to trade in their gas counterpart, due in part to premium finishes and brand newness. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

The federal government has set sales targets for new vehicles that must be all-electric by 2035, including vans.

However, Canadians don’t have many options when it comes to electric pickups just yet, with only the F−150 Lightning and Rivian R1T as options. General Motors and Ram are expected to join the lineup in 2024.

Electric vans are designed to efficiently transport heavier loads, such as towing a trailer, like gas vans.

The gas-guzzling vehicle label affixed to gas-powered vans also applies to electric models. These need a significant electrical charge.

“Your autonomy will be limited because the truck is working harder,” says Louise Lévesque, director of policy for Electric Mobility Canada.

“If you’re hauling something (with a pickup truck), you’re going to use more gas per mile (and) your tank won’t take you as far as you normally would. The same goes for the electric version,” he states.

Mark Marmer, founder of Signature Electric, believes electric vans should have more battery power. According to him, these trucks are designed to transport heavy loads, which is not the case with an electric passenger vehicle.

However, Mr Marmer acknowledges that this can be a problem if the driver has to stop more often.

“You have to be aware of charging (and) ask yourself if you’ve allowed enough time, if you know what charging equipment you should use if needed, if you can arrive safely,” he said.

Gas savings of $1,400 per month

Sherbrooke resident Michael Laroche finds his electric van drains its charge faster when a trailer is attached to his vehicle.

About a year and a half ago, Mr. Laroche replaced his Ford F−150 pickup truck with its electric twin, the F−150 Lightning.

“When I go without a trailer, I can make the return trip from Montreal without having to transfer my vehicle,” he says.

It is approximately 300 kilometers round trip from Sherbrooke.

“But when I use the trailer, I have to charge the truck for 20 to 25 minutes using a fast charging station,” says the man who makes a living installing charging stations for electric cars.

He says he travels 300 to 400 kilometers a day, three or four times a week. Since replacing his internal combustion engine van with an electric vehicle, he says the cost of doing business has dropped significantly.

“I charge the truck overnight, about 14 to 15 hours, and I’m ready to go,” Mr. Laroche mentioned in an interview.

He says his monthly electricity bill, which includes both household consumption and vehicle charging, has now averaged $350 over the past 15 months.

The bill is certainly high, but it’s a better deal than the $450 Mr. Laroche spends each week on gas, saving him $1,400 a month on fuel.

Bigger battery, but unchanged autonomy

Marmer says the truck’s battery size is larger than smaller electric vehicles, but the range remains the same.

“It has to do with the size of the car. So there is no increase in autonomy, but the battery has to be bigger,” he explains.

The latest electric pickups can be prohibitively expensive for those looking to trade in their gas counterpart, due in part to premium finishes and brand newness.

According to Mr Marmer, electric vans, while more expensive for commercial use, are “incredibly” reliable.

According to him, compared to a gasoline or diesel car, electric cars generally work with a simple mechanism.

“This simplicity is the simplicity of the vehicle itself, and the little care it requires to operate is really what makes it last.”

Ritika Dubey, The Canadian Press

Leave a Comment