2 Feb 24

The new environmental and safety regulations facing LCVs

The ever growing profile of light commercial vehicles on city streets has put vans in the spotlight of authorities and regulators.

Zero emission mandates

Vans are responsible for 2.5% of total EU emissions of carbon dioxide, which has led to tough targets to cut their production of the greenhouse gas. New rules from the European Commission mandate that 50% of new van sales in the European Union will have to be zero emission by 2030, and 100% of new LCVs will have to be zero emission by 2035.

In the UK, the Zero Emission Vehicle mandate has set even higher targets, requiring that vehicle manufacturers ensure 70% of their new van sales are zero emission by the end of the decade. Moreover, OEMs have to meet interim targets every year up to 2030, starting with 10% this year, 16% in 2025, 24% in 2026, 34% in 2027, and rising to 46% in 2028.

Euro 7

Air quality has become a key focus for urban authorities, and new emission thresholds for new light commercial vehicles will include requirements for brake and tyre particulate pollution, alongside more familiar pollutants such as carbon monoxide and dioxide, nitrogen oxide and diesel particulates.

Tougher CO2 testing

To close the gap between official WLTP CO2 emission tests and real world emissions, the European Commission has issued EU-wide regulations that will require type approval authorities to test in-service vehicles to verify that their CO2 emissions and fuel consumption align with their WLTP performance. If there are significant discrepancies, the EC will use the higher real-world figure to recalculate the OEM’s CO2 emissions, which could lead to penalties for excess emissions. From 2025-2029, the EU fleet-wide CO2 emissions per OEM have to be lower than 153.9g/km, dropping to 90.6g/km from 2030 to 2034.

Driving licence exemptions

To accelerate the uptake of electric vans, which are typically heavier than their ICE equivalents due to the weight of their battery packs, the European Commission has proposed a change in the rules governing driving licences. Historically, holders of a B licence have been permitted to drive vehicles of up to 3.5tonnes.

The EC’s dispensation extends this to 4.25 tonnes, so long as the extra weight is attributed to the batteries.

However, fleets are currently experiencing difficulties at a national level with the dispensation. In the Netherlands, the exemption has been extended on a temporary basis, leaving fleets uncertain of the future. The Dutch dispensation is currently due to expire on 1 July 2024, with legislation to restore it not due until the end of the year, according to TLN, the Association for Transport and Logistics. This means fleets would have to fit a tachograph to the e-LCVs, honour driver breaks and hours, and recruit drivers with a heavy goods licence.

In the UK, the Association of Fleet Professionals says holders of the B Licence can drive 4.25t e-LCVs, but the vehicles are treated like heavy goods vehicles if they drive further than 100km from their base. This would mean a daily inspection, annual MOT test, and the fitting of a speed limiter and tachograph, as well as limits on driver hours.

Driver Distraction Warning System

From 7 July, 2024, all new vans (category N goods vehicles) launched will have to be fitted with an Advanced Driver Distraction Warning system, capable of giving a visual and audible alert if the driver’s eyes leave the road ahead. The regulation becomes mandatory for all new vans sold from 7 July, 2026.

Images: Shutterstock 1318583375 and 1294185091

Authored by: Jonathan Manning