As the government continues to drive electric vehicle (EV) adoption, Schneider Electric has welcomed the new grant scheme for electric vans yet bears caution about how the lack of current charging infrastructure may mean the scheme could fall short.
Under the new scheme, buyers of eligible electric vans will be offered a subsidy of 20 per cent off the cost, equating to a maximum of £8,000. This forms an extension of the plug-in grant scheme for domestic users which, launched last year, enables buyers of approved electric cars to get a £5,000 discount off the showroom price.
It is expected that this will come as great news to commercial users who are often viewed as the prime beneficiaries of EV adoption. This is because daily mileage is often more than for cars, with many van drivers covering up to 100 miles a day, meaning the potential savings are a lot greater.
An immediate benefit which commercial EV users will see is reduced fuel cost (currently estimated at 88 per cent), in addition, there are further medium and long term benefits such as compliance with government targets on CO2 reductions, reduced congestion charges, lower maintenance and insurance costs
However, the issue of the slow development of the public charging infrastructure still remains. In fact, it is estimated that last year the UK installed just 704 of the 4,700 EV charging points which were expected to be in place before the end of the year. This is particularly pertinent for commercial users who may need to top up their vehicle’s charge during the day at different locations.
David Greaves (pictured), national business development manager for EV at Schneider Electric comments: “On the whole, this is very good news for the EV market and clearly demonstrates that the government is determined that electric vehicles will be a success.
“We have always believed it is the lower-end commercial sector which is likely to show the most significant early growth in EV adoption so we see this as a major turning point.
“However, it is important to note that we are still very much in the midst of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation, as the sale of electric vans could be restricted until the infrastructure is in place. We would therefore hope that the government takes a two-prong approach, installing chargers and continuing its investment in charging facilities. This will then speed up EV adoption and ensure it is a realistic and viable option for both the UK’s commercial and domestic drivers.”