From 2035, there’ll be a ban on the sale of new petrol, diesel or hybrid vans in the UK. That’s the plan anyway.
So with just 15 years to go, what does that mean for campervans and motorhomes? One possibility is that sales will go up now as people decide to realise their camping dreams earlier on.
Manufacturers, though, are getting worried because they rely on base vans from Volkswagen, Fiat and so on, and these – apart from one Nissan electric – are all diesel-powered.
Latest update:March 2021
VW ID Buzz
VW’s concept SUV/campervan, the ID Buzz, is at least two years away. It’s actually quite akin to the Beach in its versatility. However, the problem is not so much the availability of electric campervans, but more the availability of charging points.
Fine if you’re tootling around town, but that’s not how most people use their vans. How will we tour long-distance in more remote and rural areas?
Obviously, tackling the climate crisis takes priority over people having a few nice holidays. So, we’re hoping for some effective solutions over the next 10 years. That’ll come partly from us campervanners rethinking our trips and putting some effort into handling the necessary changes. And we’re hoping especially for some serious investment in electric-charging, better batteries and vehicle design.
Why Phase Out Diesel Campervans?
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the planet is heading towards a serious demise. More and more frequently, we are seeing news reports on rising temperatures and melting ice caps.
Perhaps even just ten years ago this was a concept that, for many of us, didn’t matter purely because we couldn’t see the effects. However, in recent years, there is no denying that this climate change has become apparent, even in the UK. Summertime is becoming a lot hotter and while it still may only come in short bursts, those heat waves are difficult to ignore.
Remember when you were a kid and there was a clear difference between summer and winter? Nowadays, it almost seems as if the two main seasons blend effortlessly into one another.
Gone are the days of a decent snowfall and the winter temperatures leave many of us heading out without a coat until at least January. It is clear that humanity as a whole needs to do something to halt this change.
While we may be past the point of being able to reverse the effects we have had as a society on the environment, making changes to our way of life can certainly slow it down.
Giving up our diesel camper vans is one surefire way of stopping climate change in its tracks. But are we really ready to give up on something that is almost a creature comfort for many adventurers?
We hear the term over and over again but for many of us, thinking about emissions isn’t something that enters our day to day radar. This is typically because we don’t see this for ourselves. As we drive through the countryside, it is difficult to physically see these emissions but when you head into some of the world’s largest cities, this is something that does not go unnoticed.
However, many would argue that diesel is a low-emission fuel, particularly in newer vehicles. And it’s true manufacturers are making visible attempts at lowering the output of new diesel vehicles but that is never going to solve the problem in its entirety.
This is because the emissions are mainly down to the engine as opposed to the fuel. You are likely familiar with the fact that carbon dioxide is one of the leading causes of climate issues and where diesel is concerned, these emissions have been significantly reduced. However, the diesel engine produces a wealth of other gases which are just as detrimental to the health of our environment.
One of the key gases released through a diesel engine is nitrogen dioxide which is incredibly dangerous to your health. This is also a gas that plays a huge role in the creation of inner-city smog and the last thing we want in the air out in the countryside.
Why Diesel Campervans Have Been So Popular?
For many of us, the looming ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles is something intimidating and certainly has ruffled a few feathers. Diesel has been one of the most dominant fuel types in the market, especially when it comes to campers and mobile homes; but why is this?
Diesel tends to be much more fuel-efficient and when you’re travelling endless miles, it pays to save where you can. Furthermore, owing to the greater torque of a diesel engine, they are generally a lot more efficient when it comes to shifting heavier loads. It is for this reason, that they often feature in commercial vehicles that require a decent level of power.
If all of that wasn’t enough, diesel campervans have always been much cheaper to purchase than their petrol alternatives. When it comes to the fear that many of us have about switching to electric, the cost is one of the most important factors.
Issues With Switching To Electric
So, if the cost is one of the biggest problems when thinking about switching to electric, what can be done about this? According to OvoEnergy, 2020 saw the first real surge in the sale of electric vehicles with more being sold in the autumn than diesel alternatives. This must demonstrate that the cost is not as high as many people think.
One of the first things that we must consider is that yes, electric vehicles are much more expensive to purchase than a diesel or petrol model. Look at the new VW e-Bully that will be selling in excess of £58,000; that is almost £15,000 more than some of the VW diesel models, even when you buy them brand new.
However, while you might be out of pocket, to begin with, there is more and more reason to believe that owning an EV will be much more profitable in the long run, saving you money over time.
That being said, the cost of electric vehicles has dropped over the years and if the government wants any hope of going all-electric, they are going to have to make these vehicles affordable to the general population. By the time the ban comes into place, it is very likely that the cost of an EV will be considerably lower.
As 2030 approaches, we must also keep in mind that hybrids will now be included in the ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ a term coined by our beloved Boris Johnson. This means that road tax will be completely abolished; at least for the time being.
As things stand, hybrid vehicles owners are expected to pay a single rate of £140 annually for their road tax whereas EV owners get away without paying a penny. The government website details that diesel campervans will be taxed by weight and this could see you paying up to £270 a year; it isn’t difficult to see how much you could save in tax alone when investing in an electric campervan.
You will also be pleased to hear that if you happen to be passing through London in an electric campervan, you will be exempt from the congestion charge which can sit at £15 per day!
Of course, the cost of fueling the vehicle is drastically cheaper; free in many cases when using an EV. There are many free charging points dotted around the country but as it stands, this isn’t enough.
Another issue that most campervan owners have when thinking about making the switch is the sheer lack of electric charging points. If BoJo wants us to switch it up, he is surely going to need to urge local authorities, manufacturers and businesses to install charging points. You don’t have to drive more than a mile in any direction to find a petrol station and this needs to be similar for EV chargers if we are going to be at all successful.
However, as it stands, getting a spot for your EV is something of a nightmare. There are websites popping up all over the internet detailing charging point etiquette but whether people listen to this is another matter.
All too often, you rock up at a charging point only to find that all outlets are taken and the vehicle owners are nowhere to be seen. Did you know that some people will even plug in before work and leave their vehicle all day without returning? That’s just bad form.
Of course, there is the option of installing a home charging port but this is costly. What’s more, you have to go with a registered installation company like RapidCharge if you want to take advantage of any government help. Currently, the UK government is running a scheme that helps to cover up to 75% of the cost of installing an EV charger at home, saving you even more money.
The government has also extended a scheme until 2023 that offers all new EV owners up to £3000 off their initial purchase. This might not seem very much when you are forking out up to £60,000 for a top of the range electric campervan but as they say, every little helps.
Another way that you will likely save money when purchasing this type of vehicle is on maintenance.
EVs have far fewer moving parts in the engine than their diesel counterparts so there are fewer things that could potentially go wrong. That being said, at the moment, these vehicles are not as common so you may find that if something does break, it will be more costly to put right. But as diesel engines are phased out, it is likely that these costs will decrease.
What Does This Mean For My Diesel Campervan?
If you have been trekking around in your trusty diesel van for many years, the idea of change can be extremely intimidating. However, there is really no reason to get worked up just yet.
While the general consensus is that all diesel and petrol vehicle sales will be banned by 2030, that doesn’t mean to say that your campervan will need to be scrapped by this time. The sale of these vehicles will be outlawed in showrooms but second-hand sales will be permitted to continue, although whether they will or not is yet to be seen.
What’s more, it won’t be illegal to drive your diesel campervan on UK roads after this time. That being said, it may be worth considering the switch as the government has laid out plans for the country to be a ‘zero-emission’ nation by the year 2050. We realise that this is 20 years after the initial ban but we all know that time flies.
Should I Buy Diesel or Electric Campervan Now?
If you are considering buying a new campervan or caravan this year, the main question on your lips will be whether you should bite the bullet and go for an EV now. This is something of a personal choice because, in reality, you could squeeze one last diesel van out. According to experts, the average motorhome will last between ten and thirty years. With the ban just under 15 years away, you could get away with it.
Conversely, you might want to prepare yourself now for the change and go for an electric campervan, which, while it might not ever be as powerful, will be far more efficient. Furthermore, with current government help in place until 2023, you could bag yourself a bargain. However, as we mentioned in the introduction, the choices are currently extremely limited so you may be tempted to wait for newer releases and be assured that everything is up to spec.
The VW ID Buzz is concept-only, but the heartening news is that manufacturers are taking things seriously. Will the charging infrastructure keep pace, though?
In a little under 15 years, the UK will see one of the most significant turning points in recent history; the banning of the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles. There has not been anything quite as noteworthy in the entire history of the motor vehicle and with electric vehicles now dominating the market, it is something we are likely going to get used to before the ban even comes into place.
But for diesel campervan owners, there are decisions to be made and many people are even fearful of making the change. The good news is that the government has got schemes in place to help new buyers get on the ‘electric vehicle ladder’ so now is a good time to consider buying.
Inevitably, we are all going to have to change; we have no choice. But over the next ten to fifteen years, we will likely see an increase in charging points and further improvements in design, allowing us to find campervans that are much the same as the ones we are used to now; only cleaner and greener.
Meanwhile…which is the best campervan you can buy now?
Or maybe use your car instead?