The Magazine for LCV Fleet Operators
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is calling for a national ‘van plan’, to accelerate electric van uptake and meet government targets. SMMT calls for van charging plan

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is calling for a national ‘van plan’, to accelerate electric van uptake and meet government targets. Recent research by the organisation shows that 57% of van operators are anxious about going electric, due to fears that they won’t be able to access a public charging point when required.

Persuading van operators to switch to zero emission vehicles will be essential if Britain is to achieve its Net Zero targets, while keeping business moving. Vans directly support one in 10 workers across Britain, in every possible industry sector. With more than 4m vans on the roads, electrifying the fleet will substantially reduce the UK’s transport-related carbon emissions, while delivering cleaner air in cities.

Behind the market

However, despite e-LCV uptake doubling in the last year, electric vans account for just one in 20 new van registrations, despite the fact that a third of all new vans can now be had with a plug attached. That puts the van market around two years behind the passenger car sector, though petrol and diesel van sales have the same end date of 2030, or 2035 for hybrids.

“Britain’s businesses run on vans and if we’re to deliver the nation’s carbon emission cuts, we need more of them to move to electric,” said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT.

“There’s an electric van to suit every business case, but we need a ‘van plan’ to ensure zero-emission driving works for millions of people, for whom their van is their livelihood and the millions more who rely on these workhorses for the delivery of their daily needs. The automotive industry is getting these new technology vehicles into showrooms, we need government and other stakeholders to match our commitments to get them out on the road.”

Deferred decision

With just one in eight van owners saying that they don’t ever plan to switch to electric, 88% of those questioned said they would transition to EV by 2035. However, a fifth of these owners said they would defer the decision for three to seven years. Around 58% of van operators said that they might be convinced to buy an e-LCV sooner, if there was a greater number of public charging points. The availability of government incentives, such as reduced tax or grants towards purchase, would also steer 57% of those questioned towards an e-LCV.

Plug-in Van Grant

E-LCV buyers currently benefit from the Plug-in Van Grant, worth up to £5,000 on larger vans. They can also access up to £350 to install charging points at their place of work. However, homeowners no longer receive a grant to install a home charging point, so van drivers working from home would need to pay up to £1,500 for a charging installation. With 41% of those asked saying that they had nowhere to charge a vehicle at home or in the depot, supporting both private and public chargepoint provision will be essential to get more operators interested in electric vans.