Large fleets have to pioneer eLCVs, says Government
More grants available for largest fleets to support eLCV uptake, while hydrogen van trials continue.
The importance of large fleets being at the forefront of the uptake of electric light commercial vehicles (eLCVs) has been recognised by the UK Government, with a massive increase in the number of plug-in van grants (PiVG) that companies can access to subsidise the higher cost of battery-powered vans.
Businesses can now apply for up to 1,500 grants per financial year, a 50% increase from the former limit of 1,000 PiVG.
The grant is worth up to £2,500 (€2,900) off the price of a small (<2,500 kilograms) plug-in van, and £5,000 (€5,750) off the price of a large (2,500-4,250kg) plug-in van. Both battery electric and plug-in hybrid vans qualify for the grant, so long as they have CO2 emissions below 50g/km and can travel at least 96km (60 miles) without producing any emissions.
The uptake of eLCVs is lagging well behind electric cars in the UK and European Union. In the first quarter of this year, battery electric vans accounted for just 5.3% of LCV sales in the UK and 6.2% in the EU. Diesel still dominates the sector, with a 93% market share of new van sales in the UK and 84.5% in the EU.
The BVRLA, which represents the UK leasing industry, welcomed the expansion of the PiVG scheme, but said fleets need significantly more support to transition to eLCVs and play their role in the country meeting its net zero targets. The UK is due to ban the sale of petrol and diesel powered LCVs from 2030, and the EU is set to follow from 2035.
Gerry Keaney, BVRLA Chief Executive, said: “Van fleets are struggling to make the zero-emission transition and the 2030 phase out target for internal combustion engine vehicles is at serious risk. Fleet-friendly public charging infrastructure is scarce and operators are struggling to find electric vehicles that can match their diesel counterparts when it comes to cost of ownership, payload or range.”
He called for a new Electric Van Plan, and said the UK needed to see huge advances in a more affordable, reliable and accessible charging infrastructure for van fleets.
The lack of faith in an adequate charging infrastructure being in place to support van fleets, and the time it takes to recharge eLCVs, has kept the prospect of hydrogen LCVs alive.
One of the UK’s largest fleet management companies, Rivus, has taken delivery of a fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) for real-world evaluation and direct comparisons with eLCVs and traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles when driving the same routes and under the same driving conditions.
Sixteen major fleet operators from different industry sectors, including grocery, delivery, utilities, and healthcare, have registered an interest in taking part in the 12 to 18-month evaluation, and Rivus will share the results with other fleet customers, providing insights into the benefits and practicality of hydrogen as an alternative fuel.
Thomas Maerz, Chief Development Officer at Rivus, said: "Our Alternative Fuel team are eager to see how the fuel cell LCV performs. We have designed several routes and duty cycles, which will test how vehicles run under different driving conditions.”
The vehicle has been produced by First Hydrogen, whose CEO Automotive, Steve Gill, said that feedback from Rivus: “Will help us to make improvements and help us to create a zero-emission mobility solution that meets fleet managers' demands."