Finding favour with parcel delivery fleets will be essential to the success of electric vans.

That’s according to leasing company Arval, with the firm’s LCV leader Simon Cook saying that electric vans closely fit the operational profile of these fleets.

He said: “The current limitations of electric vans – which surround range and weight of payload – do not really apply to parcel delivery fleets operating in urban environments.

“Certainly, we are seeing courier, home shopping and parcel delivery operations becoming the main early adopters. A number of these fleets are operating vehicles, essentially on a trial basis.

“How they perform over the coming months is going to be the key to whether electric vans become a serious fleet proposition.”

Cook said it was also essential that manufacturers continued to develop the electric vans on offer, especially in terms of hybrid technology.

He said: “The fact is that, even for parcel delivery fleets, range remains an issue. We need to be moving towards the 200-300 mile range that is now being seen with some cars.

“In some key respects, we believe the real breakthrough will come with the availability of diesel-electric panel vans.

Because these should offer the torque that pure electric vans lack, they will be viable for a much wider range of fleets.”

Cook added that, based on Arval’s own experience of electric vans, the firm was confident about their longevity.

“We have a Ford Transit Connect conversion that has been in operation with a customer for six years now and, even though these are relatively basic vehicles compared to the latest generation of electric vans, they remain viable as everyday vehicles,” he said.

Arval recently produced the guide Delivering the Future: A Guide to Operating Electric Vans, available on its website.