Government pledges to support van decarbonisation

The Government has provided assurances that further solutions are under development to support the van sector’s transition to zero-emission vehicles. Speaking at the BVRLA’s recent Fleets in Charge webinar, Lizzie Culwick, joint head of the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) discussed van-specific measures relating to charging infrastructure, user experience, and financial incentives.

With the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate coming into effect from 01 January 2024, more electric vans are being brought to market. The mandate requires at least 10% of new van sales in 2024 to be on qualifying zero-emission models, with the proportion increasing every year. Thousands of users are already showing how the transition can be done, yet many more are reporting barriers in the form of high costs, poor product, and inaccessible infrastructure.

Ms Culwick took delegates through the mandate and how it targets a gradual acceleration of electric van fleets. Other incentives such as the Plug-in Van Grant were outline where support is already being deployed. Delegates also heard of work to improve the charging experience and accessibility, as well as the broader provision of fleet-friendly charging infrastructure.

Lizzie Culwick said: “Decarbonisation of vans is really crucial to our efforts to decarbonise our road transport system and reach net zero by 2050. In 2021, vans alone accounted for about 16% of the UK’s domestic transport emissions. That’s a huge opportunity for vans to become the road to zero hero, but we also need to recognise that van decarbonisation faces a particular set of challenges.”

The webinar also included a panel discussion and saw a unanimous call for a new plan for vans in 2024. The panel of experts included representatives from Allstar, EV Essentials, Mitie, and ProGreen explored the practicalities of the transition and what it means for fleet operators today. They established that, while progress towards zero-emission vans continues, its exceptional potential is yet to be unlocked through support being deployed in the right areas.

Michelle Miles, head of ProGreen, said: “We need to be practical. We need to be open minded. We need to collaborate and not set ourselves up for failure. The biggest thing? We need to be brave, because out of all our customers to have made the transition, not one has looked back.”

Toby Poston, BVRLA Director of Corporate Affairs, added: “Vans need targeted support. This is a topic on which the BVRLA has been a firm and consistent flagbearer. We led the way with our Van Plan in 2021 and will be publishing an all-new plan in 2024. That sees us collaborating with other trade associations, CV experts and decarbonisation leaders, creating a fully rounded, actionable plan.”

The ‘Vans: Becoming the road to zero hero’ webinar is free to access now. More details of the 2024 campaign and launch of the Van Plan will be shared in due course.

There will be a programme of Fleets in Charge events in 2024. If you are an industry supplier and would like to know more, take a look at the BVRLA’s brand partnerships page for details of the events coming up and how you can get involved, or email [email protected].