Best hybrid vans

Electric cargo carriers that are fully flexible: plug-in hybrid vans combine cheap battery power with an engine for long-distance driving

BuyaCar team
Nov 27, 2020

Is it high time you reduced fuel costs for your van? Opting for a hybrid van might just be the answer, and you could find yourself cruising along the open road with one less care on your mind. 

Granted, the current choice of hybrid vans isn't massive, with only a handful of models to choose from and a pretty thin used market, too. But what is available is bound to offer everything you need in terms of capability and economy.

A plug-in hybrid van could be the perfect set-up for business users with regular short hops around town, access to a charging network, and a desire to reduce fuel bills. With a battery that can be charged up, plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) can typically drive for 20 miles or more on electric power alone, and when you need to go further there’s a petrol or diesel engine under the bonnet so you don’t need to worry about waiting for hours to recharge.

There's also the option of a mild hybrid setup, with a small electric motor taking the stress away from the engine and making for more efficient acceleration and overall better fuel economy. If you're interested in a more cost-effective future, a hybrid van might just be what you're looking for.

Best hybrid vans

1. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is one of the longest serving plug-in hybrid cars you can buy, and it's just as good as a commercial option too. You'll get the same 28 miles of all-electric range (that will reduce if you’re carrying a heavy load), and the same four-wheel drive system for impressive performance on rough terrain.

The Mitsubishi is best if you’re going to take full advantage of its electric range on short journeys and regularly recharge it to minimise fuel use. You’ll find that the fuel costs will mount up the more you rely on petrol power during longer trips.

And without the fuel savings, the Outlander is a less appealing choice. Without rear seats, it has a load area of around 1.6 cubic metres in volume, which is larger than a Ford Fiesta van or Vauxhall Combo but not quite as spacious as the load area of a Ford Transit Courier.

The current model comes only comes in one trim level, called Juro Commercial. It's pretty plush, and includes niceties such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for easier control of phone apps and dictation of messages through the dashboard touchscreen, as well as a rear view camera.

Access to goods is through the standard side doors and rear boot, which can make loading bulky items tough, and suitable lashing points are scarce.


2. Ford Transit Custom Plug-In

There is an alternative to the Outlander PHEV, the Ford Transit Custom is now also available as a plug-in hybrid. Capable of covering up to 35 miles (again, this can be limited by weight among other things) under electric power according to Ford, the Transit Custom PHEV could be more than just an alternative. 

The Transit is capable of carrying much more than the Outlander in its 6.8-cubic metre load area, with enough room for storing objects up to three metres in length.

A 1.0-litre petrol engine that works together with the hybrid system is economical on its own, but it will suffer reduced efficiency thanks to the added weight of the batteries. The Transit Custom PHEV works best when it's under electric propulsion.

3. Ford Transit

Alongside the plug-in hybrid Transit Custom, for is also now producing a mild hybrid version of the standard Ford Transit. This makes use of a 2.0-litre diesel engine supported by an electric motor that aids with acceleration and helps to reduce fuel consumption.

This type of hybrid system is a little less intrusive than a full-on plug-in hybrid setup, and while there are no batteries to speak of so fully-electric driving is not an option, you may consider this a more suitable approach, especially if you don't have charging facilities on hand.


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