Operators say electric vans are the future now

Tunbridge Wells, UK: Most van operators intend to use electric vans in their fleets this year, according to the Freight Transport Association’s Logistics Report.

71.4% of van operators intend to use electric vehicles according to FTA’s 2019 Logistics Report, launched in association with Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking.

Denise Beedell, policy manager, vans and urban, Freight Transport Association 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,: she said,

The 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, it says.
 
The association’s report polled the opinions of some 500 freight and logistics businesses operating in the UK and internationally to provide industry insight into the latest political and economic developments.   
 
The survey found that 24% of van operators 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).
 
“As testament to the value it provides to the UK economy, the vans market continues to grow consistently, with 13% of survey respondents planning to increase their van fleet over the next 12 months,” Beedell said.

But the UK is facing a serious van driver shortage; these fears are exacerbated by the large proportion of EU nationals currently working in the van market in the UK. The survey found that a fifth of professional van drivers are EU nationals, but as this does not include people for whom van driving not their primary role – plumbers and florists, for example – the figure is likely to be much higher, according to the association.

It is calling for government support to ensure non-UK logistics workers are welcomed in the UK, before and after Brexit, to prevent the shortage reaching “catastrophic” levels.
 
John Simkins, head of transport and logistics, Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “Uncertainty has been the inevitable reality for UK businesses over the last year, and vans businesses are no exception.  In order that these UK businesses can continue their operations with as little disruption as possible, it is vital that we work closely with the transport & logistics industry. The importance of the sector and their drivers must not be undervalued, which is why we remain committed to continuing our work with the FTA and businesses in the sector in 2019 and beyond.”
 

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