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
Aug 16, 2021

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. Ford Fiesta Van MHEV

Used deals from £8,058
Monthly finance from £190*

The Fiesta Van makes for a great entry point to van ownership, and is ideal for young tradespeople or those who don't need thousands of litres of cargo space. There's 960 litres' worth of space, which is enough for small jobs, as well as a 497kg payload.

The 1.0-litre petrol engine is a strong performer in the normal Fiesta, and even heavier cars like the Focus, but the mild hybrid technology helps Ford squeeze out a claimed 56.5mpg. The same 125hp engine without any electrical assistance claims 51.4mpg.

FORD FIESTA BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Used deals Limited stock

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.

Standard equipment 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 reversing 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.

MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER PHEV BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Ford Transit Custom PHEV

Used deals from £13,450
Monthly finance from £299*

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 to diesel-powered rivals. 

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. Run it efficiently and you can expect up to 90mpg, but fail to keep the batteries topped up and this could drop to below 30mpg. 

4. Ford Transit Custom MHEV

Ford Transit Custom front three quarters view

Used deals from £13,450
Monthly finance from £299*

If you find yourself regularly travelling long distances, a diesel-powered van might make more sense. While you can't have a plug-in diesel hybrid Transit Custom, you can have a mild hybrid version. No electric-only miles, but a decent 40mpg from the 130hp 2.0-litre unit. 

5. Ford Transit MHEV

Used deals from £16,490
Monthly finance from £353*

Alongside the plug-in hybrid Transit Custom, Ford 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 a small electric motor that aids with acceleration and helps to reduce fuel consumption. It's the same setup as the Transit Custom MHEV above, but in this larger van, Ford lets you decide between front- and rear-wheel drive.

This type of hybrid system is a little less intrusive than a full-on plug-in hybrid setup, and while electric-only driving is out of the question, you may consider this a more suitable approach, especially if you don't have charging facilities on hand. There's no plug-in option, but an electric version is due to arrive in 2022.

6. LEVC VN5

The London Electric Vehicle Company, or LEVC for short, has already had a crack at electrifying the black cab, but this is the vehicle for people looking to move cargo, not people. It uses a 31kWh battery to achieve a range of up to 75 miles, and as such, is an electric vehicle. Where the petrol engine comes into play is not to power the wheels, but to act as an onboard generator to keep the batteries topped up, which means around 300 miles on a full charge and tank.

It's a practical electric vehicle, because 50kW charging means a full charge in as little as 30 minutes, but it's also a practical van, with a load space of up to 5,500 litres.

 

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