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Driving An Electric Van Can Actually Reduce Stress Levels

Let’s be honest – van driving is stressful. Congestion, trying to keep to a tight schedule, noise, long hours on the road, bad drivers… There are a multitude of contributing factors. So, how can we reduce it?

A recent study carried out by Fiat Professional (part of the Stellantis group and manufacturer of the Doblo, Ducato etc) has suggested that driving an electric van can actually reduce the stress levels suffered by the driver. The release of the findings was timed to coincide with World Mental Health Day and, in the manufacturer’s words, designed to raise awareness of the mental and physical impact excessive noise can have on human health.

Fiat has a vested interest here, having recently launched the electric Ducato van, called the (you’ve guessed it) E-Ducato. But, there’s some convincing stuff in the study.

The aptly named ‘Van Delivery Stress Test’ carried out in conjunction with a former Oxford University Psychoacoustician, was designed to ‘gain a greater understanding of the physiological and psychological impact on drivers when comparing the different levels of cabin noise in an electric and internal combustion-engined light commercial vehicle’.

Drivers completed a typical courier’s 3-drop, 20-minute route in London in both the diesel and electric Ducatos. To add some further stress-related realism, drivers were penalised for not completing the drops or route within the 20-minute period.

Drivers’ biometric responses were measured and, overall, it was found that they produced significantly lower levels of sweat and had a lower heart rate and body temperature when driving the battery-powered vehicle. The drivers were also asked to complete a ‘Perceived Stress Questionnaire’ for the E-Ducato, with comments highlighting the ‘very low in-cabin noise levels’ and ‘no noticeable sound or engine noise’.

Measurements taken indicated that the E-Ducato produced 10 decibels less noise than the diesel van, the study suggesting that the ICE van is 4 times louder than the battery version. ‘Sharpness’ was also monitored. Think of the sound of chalk squeaking on a blackboard. It’s a characteristic of sound that is considered to be an annoying (and stress inducing) element - and the diesel van was found to be 55% sharper than the E-Ducato.

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