New government should consider rethinking ZEV Mandate for vans, says FleetCheck

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Whichever party is elected on 4 July should consider rethinking the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate for vans because of a range of issues being faced by fleets.

Peter Golding, managing director at the fleet software specialist, said the gap between the capabilities of the vehicles on offer and the needs of many fleets was proving too wide – and there were no easy ways of bridging that divide.

“The massive success of electric company cars in recent years has shown that fleets are willing and able to electrify rapidly and on a large scale. However, the situation for vans is proving much, much more difficult.

“For some fleets that carry lighter loads over shorter distances, and where depot or off-street domestic charging is available, electric van adoption can be relatively simple but for others, there are a whole host of hurdles.

“Limited range and payload, and poor access to overnight charging for drivers living in terraced houses or apartments are very real and widespread problems, as well as more specific difficulties surrounding everything from the 4.25 tonne derogation to 12-volt battery charging. That’s before you get to residual values.

“This situation appears to be having a direct impact on sales, which appear to be flatlining for the moment at least. Unless you are a major business such as a utility company with a strong corporate emphasis on van electrification and the funds to manage that transition, interest is relatively weak.”

Peter said that, given these difficulties, the ZEV Mandate target of 70% of all van sales being electric by 2030 looked potentially unrealistic.

“That’s just six years away which means, for most van fleets, not much more than one replacement cycle. The structural problems that fleets are facing seem extremely difficult to solve in that timespan.

“Whoever wins power will need to do is look at this issue today before it becomes acute later in the decade. It seems clear that either some form of support or incentive – similar to low benefit in kind taxation for electric cars – will be needed, alongside a massive expansion of low-cost on-street charging.

“We are already talking to fleets who are thinking about keeping hold of their diesel vans for as long as possible in order to delay the switch to electrification. If a government policy is directly leading fleets to consider hanging onto much more polluting vehicles for longer, it is probably the wrong policy.”

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