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Buying Guide: Electric Fridge Vans

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Buying Guide: Electric Fridge Vans

Choosing the right van for your business is a significant decision. A good van could last you decades, so it’s vital to think about where your business is now and where you want to be in the future.

An electric refrigerated van would be the ideal choice for a wide range of businesses that need access to temperature controlled environments. Fridge vans not only help to protect cargo against hot temperatures in the summer, but they also provide insulation so that cargo doesn’t freeze when the temperature drops in winter.

For this reason, fridge vans are commonly recommended for catering businesses, florists, food suppliers including butchers and fishmongers, and pharmaceutical suppliers. 

Fridge vans work by first insulating the cargo area to help maintain a consistent temperature. A refrigeration unit is then installed along with thermostat sensors to help maintain a consistent temperature. The fridge unit will commonly have its own power supply and can also be plugged into a backup power source at night to avoid draining the battery.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a fridge van for your business, one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is about the engine type. As electric vehicles grow in popularity, and the infrastructure for charging becomes more robust, it’s now a viable option for many business owners to consider. In this guide, we’re exploring the process of purchasing an electric fridge van for your business and what you’ll need to think about.

Why choose an electric vehicle?

Why choose an electric vehicle?

There are many reasons to consider an electric vehicle over a petrol or diesel vehicle. Let’s explore these in more detail:

  • Achieve your net zero targets – if your company has set a goal to become more efficient, then switching to an electric vehicle could offer a simple way to move towards these goals. Companies with electric vehicles can take advantage of the unique marketing position to sell your goods or services as eco or green.
  • Reduce running costs – electric vehicles are cheaper to run, particularly if you only use the vehicle occasionally. The easiest way to save on fuel costs is to eliminate them entirely.
  • Better efficiency – when it comes to driving in the city centre and making multiple stops, you’ll enjoy a much smoother drive with an electric vehicle. If you plan on making longer trips, you’ll need to factor in charging stops.
  • Lower maintenance costs – an electric engine does not work the same as a combustion engine. This means lower maintenance costs, as you won’t need to pay for things like oil changes. Wear and tear is typically less of an issue with electric engines.
  • Access to the latest vehicles – electric vehicles are new to the market, so you’re more likely to be purchasing a new vehicle that still has an intact warranty. Even second hand vehicles will be relatively new. 
Size considerations

Size considerations

The first thing to consider when buying your electric fridge van is the capacity in the loading bay. Consider what you will be transporting and whether you need a specific height or width of the van. Do you need to be able to stand up inside the van? Will you need custom storage racks? And do you need to section the cargo area to create different temperature controlled zones. 

All of these factors will influence your final decision. Consider the following electric and hybrid models in different size classes:

  • Large van – VW eCrafter
  • Medium van – Ford Transit Connect Plug-In Hybrid
  • Small van – Mercedes-Benz eCitan

Engine type

When choosing your fridge van, you’ll have a choice between all-electric or hybrid engines. A hybrid engine is an ideal choice for longer distances as your vehicle will be powered by the in-built battery while you are in built-up areas, and then switch to petrol or diesel when you need more power, such as on the motorway.

These vehicles have a battery that can recharge when stopping and starting, so driving in a built up city centre environment will mean that you are using nothing but the battery.

An all-electric vehicle is becoming more of a viable option for businesses as advances in engine capabilities make them more reliable. In the past, you might have dismissed an all-electric vehicle because you might doubt its ability to cover long distances, but this is no longer the case. Improvements in battery capacity and rapid charging means that longer distances are now easily achievable in an electric vehicle.

Backup power

Backup power

When you park your van at night, do you completely empty it and power down, or do you want the option to be able to keep it loaded. At the very least, it can be helpful to leave the refrigeration running, as it will mean your van is at the right temperature and ready for loading the next day.

This is where a backup power cable comes in handy. Rather than rely on the internal power source, you can hook up your refrigeration unit and ensure you have reliable power through the night. This can help to avoid stock loss if your internal power source fails during the night.

Driver experience

There’s no doubt that a modern van will offer a superior driving experience. Electric vehicles commonly have an automatic transmission, which makes it more accessible to more drivers. They are also packed with safety features to help improve the experience for the driver and passenger.

Modern electric vehicles will have features like lane assist, parking sensors and info-tainment systems that will provide essential information while driving. 

Final thoughts on buying an electric fridge van

The first step in choosing an electric van for your business is to determine your budget. An electric vehicle will often be more expensive than a petrol or diesel engine, as they will be newer. You won’t have access to the same savings as a used petrol or diesel van with a few miles on the clock, but you can see savings in other areas. Once you know your budget, you can then determine the ideal sized van. And finally, select the customisable features that will ensure your van works for your purposes. 

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