Plan to get van fleet decarbonisation on track
Catherine Bowen, BVRLA senior policy advisor
Vans are of huge importance to the UK economy as a broad range of industries are reliant on their use, from engineering and construction for critical national infrastructure through to emergency and rescue services.
The van parc is growing exponentially at a rate double that of cars, given the rise in self-employment and online retail. Vans are also essential tools for transporting equipment, supplies and people to support small enterprise, aid healthcare provision and lay critical national infrastructure, such as broadband, to facilitate wider economic activity.
Electric van technology lags significantly behind electric cars. While the car market is already seeing its third and fourth generation electric vehicles, very few electric vans are capable of delivering longer ranges or towing. Given the growth and economic importance of vans, a special focus on vans is needed if this sector is to achieve parity with the more developed car market. This segmented approach must consider the challenges of supply, demand and infrastructure for the electric van market and develop policies to resolve them well before 2030.
The van sector faces unique challenges when it comes to making the transition to zero emission motoring. Vans that are either depot based or rental will require firms to install hugely expensive charging infrastructure on site. Where vehicles are home-based many drivers won't be able to plug-in at home if they do not have a home driveway or this is used by the main family vehicle. Centrica has predicted that 65% of their engineers cannot charge at home.
Homebased vans will be heavily reliant on public charging infrastructure and van drivers being able to charge between jobs as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, most public charging infrastructure has not been designed with vans in mind. Bays are often too small for vans, there may be limited room to turn the vehicle and charger cables may not be long enough to reach charge ports. This could pose a danger to the driver and other road users if drivers are forced to manoeuvre awkwardly into positions where they can charge.
Currently, many commercial vehicle operators just cannot get the business case to stack up, the average zero-emission van is far more expensive than its diesel equivalent and often with reduced functionality that will lead to other costs.
The rewards for electrifying vans are greater than those for cars. Van users need greater consideration and targeted support to ensure the sector can meet Government’s ambitious 2030 ICE phase out date.
Drop the exclusion of rented and leased vans from the ‘super deduction’ – this is the strongest route for fleets to be able to afford zero emission van options.