Increasing numbers of operators turning to electric vans

More than two thirds of van operators intend to use electric vehicles in their fleet this year, a report has found.

The Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) 2019 Logistics Report, launched in association with Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking, polled 500 freight and logistics operators in the UK and internationally. It found that 71% of van operators intend to use electric vehicles, 24% plan to use range-extended vehicles in their fleet, 41% plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and 7% vehicles fuelled by hydrogen (for use by Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles).

In response, the FTA is calling on the government to recognise this shift in intention and increase its investment into electric vehicle affordability, to ensure that the changes can happen quickly and efficiently.

Denise Beedell, Policy Manager for Vans and Urban at FTA said: “FTA and its members are fully committed to reducing their carbon emissions wherever possible; we are not surprised, therefore, that so many intend to use electric vehicles in their van fleets but they will need assistance from government to be able to do so.

“By providing clear guidance on how it plans to upgrade the grid infrastructure – without all the costs falling on individual businesses – legislators would make the shift to electric an attractive option for companies of all sizes and shapes. But more must be done to ensure it is a fully viable low-emission solution. For example, electric vans are still significantly more expensive to purchase than their standard fuel-based counterparts; public charging points must be available for use by businesses as well as residents. FTA is calling on government to review its approach to the grid infrastructure upgrade – a costly project which should not be left to individual commercial operators to fund.”

However, the survey revealed that only 13% of respondents said they planned to increase their van fleet in the next 12 months. It also found that there is a shortage of van drivers. While 20% of all professional van drivers are EU nationals, this does not include people for whom van driving not their primary role – plumbers and florists, for example – so the figure is likely to be much higher. “FTA is calling for government support to ensure non-UK logistics workers are welcomed in the UK, both before and after Brexit, to prevent the shortage reaching catastrophic levels,” said Beedell.

Dan Parton
Dan Parton
Dan Parton is a freelance journalist and former editor of Truck & Driver, the UK's biggest selling truck magazine. He writes for both The Van Expert and The Truck Expert.

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