Loft converter Steve raises the roof for his new, zero-emission Mercedes-Benz van

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Builder Steve Hockham is cleaning-up on costs as well as emissions after switching to a fully-electric Mercedes-Benz eVito.

The proprietor of Surrey-based Loft Conversions of London purchased his Long L2 PURE model from Mercedes-Benz Vans Dartford with the help of a maximum £8,000 grant from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

Not only is he now benefiting from the fact that electricity is significantly cheaper than diesel, but he has also signed-up to an attractively priced Mercedes-Benz Complete Service Plan that fixes his routine maintenance costs for the next four years.

“I couldn’t believe how inexpensive the service plan was, but I guess that’s partly because an electric van is a lot less complex and has many fewer components than a conventional one,” said Steve.

“As for the grant, £8,000 is a lot of money. As more and more businesses and private individuals make the transition to electric vehicles you have to wonder for how much longer the Government will be able to offer such a generous incentive. I was particularly keen, therefore, to take advantage while it’s still available.”

Steve has worked in the building trade for 35 years, and established Loft Conversions of London in 2013. “We undertake all sorts of home improvements and extensions, but loft conversions are particular popular these days,” he explained. “That’s because building up into the roof is such a cost-effective way to gain a lot of extra space in the home.”

Steve’s van offers a payload allowance of 923 kg and has a 6.0m3 cargo area. “I’ve owned a Vito in the past so I already knew the electric version would be very practical, and the right size to carry materials and my tools,” he said. “The sliding doors on both sides are a big help for accessing the bay. I’ll fill my new Mercedes-Benz with insulation, or can easily get 30 sheets of plasterboard in the back, while I’ve also fitted a Rhino rack for carrying timber.”

Steve runs Loft Conversions of London from his home in Banstead, and the firm undertakes the majority of its projects in south and west London, as well as north Surrey. The eVito will travel approximately 93 miles on a single charge. “That’s more than sufficient for me, given the area within which we tend to operate,” Steve continued. “Also, of course, like so many other tradesmen’s vans, mine tends to spend most of the day parked up outside the property on which we’re working.”

The eVito’s 41 kWh battery is securely mounted in a protective housing beneath the floor, which means it does not impinge on the available load space. Steve uses a charging point with Type-2 connection fitted on his garage wall – a full recharge takes six hours, so he simply plugs in at the end of each day and starts out the next morning with the maximum range available to him.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, given the heavily populated area in which he lives and works, several customers have already applauded Steve for his decision to invest in a vehicle that produces zero tailpipe emissions. “It’s gratifying to know I’m doing my bit to help create a cleaner, ‘greener’ tomorrow,” he acknowledged. “I’d also like to think I’ve ‘future-proofed’ myself against new emissions-based restrictions in London.”

The eVito’s electric motor produces 114 hp and drives the front wheels via a single-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is instantaneous, while top speed is restricted as standard to 50 mph (80 km/h), although this can be increased on request. The steering wheel-mounted selectors allow drivers to choose between C, E and E+ (Comfort, Eco and Extended range) settings.

Steve added: “The eVito is lovely to drive, very smooth and quiet, and the instant acceleration can certainly be useful at times. As for Mercedes-Benz Vans Dartford, I can’t fault the service I received from its Van Sales Manager John O’Loughnane and Sales Executive Ian Macleod. I placed the order online and they arranged administration of the OLEV grant and installation of the charging point at my home – the process could not have been any easier.”

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