Electric Vehicles is your business ready?

Vans play a vital role in our nation’s life but also have a huge impact on emissions.

This Autumn, we delivered a webinar for members on electrical commercial vehicles.

About 27% of the UK’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relate to road traffic. 17% of road transport emissions relate to vans, which are also the fastest growing segment in a year when van sales have fallen.

If we are to meet the government’s commitment to reduce emissions, van traffic must be converted to lower emitting fuels.

More than half of all vehicles sold in 2021 had some form of battery in their propulsive systems. 11% of vans sold in 2021 were battery powered, a lower share than cars but growing very fast. Battery vans sales grew by 51% in 2021 from the prior year while van sales fell by 24%.

After 2030 no new internal combustion engine vans will be allowed to be sold, so we are already within two replacement cycles of having to make that decision.

Brad Miller, head of low emissions vehicles at Vauxhall, said Vauxhall will only produce low emission vehicles after 2028 – a similar position to most large suppliers. 70% of van shifts involve less than 60 miles so ranges available of up to 210 miles mean range anxiety is a diminishing issue.

Vans are available, but in high demand, and supply chain issues that have affected everyone have also affected vehicle manufacturers. If you are interested in converting to electricity, it is important to act promptly and get a slot booked.

Vans are one area where government is helping to promote change. Nigel Morris of MHA MacIntyre Hudson explained how access to the Plug in Van Grant, the Plug in Truck Grant, EV charge Point Grant, the Workplace Charging Scheme and EV infrastructure grant for staff and fleets has provided substantial help in equalising the costs for electric vans.

Up to 75% of the cost of installing chargers can be funded. Brad Miller explained how the Whole Life Cost tipping point for smaller vans had already been passed. If you run a diesel or petrol-powered small van, you are losing money compared to a battery van today, even with high electricity costs.

The government is also wielding other sticks with the increased rollout of Low Emission Zones, now five with a further five in planning. Soon, in most major cities, using anything but electric will be impossible.

Government has also introduced changes to licensing to reduce the effect of heavy batteries by allowing regular licences to be used for heavier vehicles than those powered by carbon-based fuels.

All agreed that planning before changing over is important.

For larger fleets, access to the grid is fundamental and will require consultancy assistance.

Anticipating changes in charging technology is also important as is planning to train drivers to use the new technology. Some users have chosen to use companies like Journey Energy, where speaker Darren Riva is managing director.

Such companies provide “energy as a service”, taking on the process of selecting equipment, managing planning and installation and coordinating supply in return for a fixed fee.

It is clearly more complex in the short-term than using diesel, but a careful implementation process allows for substantial benefits later. The electrical and interconnected nature of E-vehicles is generating a huge amount of useful data about route management, driving practices and manageable costs.

Of course, electric vans have some disadvantages. There is a drop-off in performance in Winter when heating the cab and powering the lights lowers range. Leasing costs have not yet matched conventional vehicles.

Yet they are now cheaper to run and maintain. Range and availability of on-road chargers is increasing. In urban use, electric vans are more relaxing to drive and with changes in settings on regenerative braking can often be driven with just one pedal. Resale values are proving equivalent to regular vehicles.

Recent data from the Climate Change Committee has shown the UK to be falling behind the curve in meeting the government’s stated commitments to lower GHG emissions. Hitting those targets is necessary as our country’s share of lowering worldwide emissions.

If missed, the consequences for the world are significant – that heatwave this summer was not a coincidence and cannot be explained by prior historic trends.

So, changing our behaviours as directors is important as our part of that commitment. For anyone on the fence, changing to electric vans is simply cheaper than fossil fuels (as well as beneficial to the environment). So, start planning to change.

To watch the webinar, click here.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Michael Bax is the IoD sustainability ambassador for Kent. Contact: [email protected]

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The IoD supports directors and business leaders across the UK and beyond to learn, network and build successful, responsible businesses.
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